Eight months after she met her boyfriend Rupert, a 38-year-old British consultant at a corporate risk management company, on the dating app Tinder, Jamie reveals via an Instagram post today that he has proposed, and that she has accepted. It will be the 39-year-old's third marriage. She posted this aww-inducing photo today with the simplest of captions: “Yes. 💗”
We texted Jamie to offer our congratulations, and asked if she would like to reveal details of the proposal, but she declined, saying, “Everything I want to say is in the post.” Perhaps she already said it all in our in-depth interview with her last month. This story, along with these sweet photos we shot of Jamie and Aly in their apartment, was first published in an issue of 8 DAYS two weeks ago.
8 DAYS: So, that article we ran in February about you and Rupert with the headline “Marriage on the cards for Jamie Yeo and Tinder beau”, we heard your Tinder beau was a bit taken aback by it.
JAMIE YEO: (Laughs) The headline was a bit sensational, but I get it — I would have done the same thing. People were congratulating me and I was like, no, I don’t have a ring! He wanted to do that later — he was scouting for jewellers. He keeps asking me what design I’d like. Yeah, we’ve been dating about six months, and yes, it was pretty intense. Some people would say it’s too intense, but sometimes you get to a stage in life where you’re like, “People say whatever they want — it’s my life.” And the Tinder thing — some people were like, “Ew, online dating,” but to anyone below 30, it’s nothing. Yes, there are a lot of sleazebags there, but it’s fun, and you make friends. I wasn’t on it that much, anyway.
Why do you think there’s still so much interest in you after all these years?
There isn’t! (Laughs) Or maybe it’s the fact that I was honest. (Laughs) I told Rupert that it was sensationalised and I didn’t know the story would be out an hour [after the phone interview] and that I’m sorry I didn’t get the chance to tell him before people told him they saw it! I’m still stuck in the old days — I thought it would be in this small box in Scene & Heard [in the magazine]. (Laughs)
So he didn’t run away screaming.
(Laughs) It took a while for him to get used to it. But it is what I do. Already it's not as bad as it used to be. If I was 25, it would have been worse, when my fans were younger and more fanatical. Now, they don’t really care that much — they’ve just known me forever. Right now, I feel like I’m laidback in terms of my career — it’s enough to put some food on the table. I told him he was already meeting me at a time in my life when I’m not doing bikini shoots and wearing short skirts. My image now is so different — I’m a mummy now. I’m home every day unless I have to work. I told him, “I hope you can handle this, but it’s gonna get less [intense]. If we have a family together, I want to do even less work. He keeps telling me I don’t even have to work if I don’t want to — he’s very sweet. I’m like, “Ah, I do wanna work.” (Laughs)
You’ve been looking after your seven-year-old daughter Aly by yourself — your ex [Thorsten Nolte, Aly’s father, whom Jamie divorced in 2014 after four years of marriage] doesn’t contribute much.
I was raising her on my own until recently when Rupert came into my life, and now he helps out a lot. I was a bit more stressed before. But he has taught me that actually a man can provide. He kinda really forces it on me. (Laughs) I’ve never been one to take advantage — I’d feel bad making someone pay for me. But he keeps hounding me — he’d be like, “Let me.” And I don’t know how he got my account number. Once, he was asking me how to do an invoice, so I showed him one of my invoices and that’s how he got my account number.
Yah I know. I have to say that ever since I met him, we are taken care of.
Do you need his money?
I’m fine, but he’s like, I don’t want you to be stressed. I’m not stretched lah, more stressed. I always feel like I have to keep chionging.
So Rupert does well for himself?
Yes, he does. ’Cos it’s just him. And he’s not a spendthrift. He doesn’t have a car. He’s not a flashy person, and he’s not into watches or anything. He has a pretty good job and he’ll always have a good job ’cos he got a good education. He went to boarding school and a good university. He’s like, “Just let me be part of the family.”
That’s so great. But did you have to scramble during that period when you were pretty much a single mum?
I had to support myself and Aly. The most important thing was to make sure I could cover not just the basics, like put food on the table and provide a roof over her head, but give her a good life, go for holidays, and also save money on top of that. Whatever I can do to get extra income here and there, I’d do it. If social media is an avenue [to make money] as well, why not? It’s just another avenue to showcase what I am, and in general people go to Instagram for fun pictures and it’s quite positive. But it’s not a big money maker — that’s still the hosting. I’ve been fortunate to have a steady flow of hosting jobs. I’ve always had a job and I made a lot of contacts over the years. With things here and there, I manage to get by.
And you bought this place [a three-bedroom apartment in an old condo estate in Yishun] last year.
I worked really hard in my twenties and I saved a lot so even after I lost money [by lending it to my ex], I still had some money left. I made a decision to stop renting. I wanted to buy something freehold for me and Aly to live in, where I can start paying mortgage instead of rent. So I was lucky to find this place which I paid slightly over a million for, which was within my budget. A lot of other places would be 1.4 to 1.5 mil and I wouldn’t be able to afford it on my own salary — banks wouldn’t let me borrow money. With this place, I barely made it. Also, I cut down on my expenses. I was driving this [expensive] car that my ex wanted to buy, so when he left, I was paying for the monthly installments. I finally found someone to buy it, and now I take an Uber everywhere. I haven’t owned a car for a year, and I’ve been driving since I was 19. I was gonna buy a new car, but then I realised that Uber and Grab are so convenient. I’m going to see how long I can last without a car — it’s been almost a year.
Did you get panicky about money at any point?
With my lawyers’ fees [when I was fighting for sole custody], there were some points where it was [worrying], but I had kind people help me along the way. [My ex-husband] did some stuff, enough for me to gain sole custody — in Singapore that’s quite a big deal. Judges don’t give it that easily. He’s not in the country and Aly has only seen him once in the past year. [According to online reports, the Brit, who is the erstwhile CEO of a digital marketing agency, is wanted by the Central Narcotics Bureau for drug-related offences, along with his then-girlfriend, Model-DJ Tenashar, whose real name is Debbie Valerie Long. Jamie tells us more, but it’s all off the record, mostly to protect her daughter — to preserve her innocence and her happy memories of her dad for as long as possible.] But at the end of the day, Aly misses him, so I still make the effort to text him and ask if he wants to speak to her. It’s really hard. I’m constantly learning day by day what to do. Now, when she Facetimes him, she gets a bit upset, and she is a bit down the next day. I have to pick her up when she falls.
It must be hard. But now you’re looking to the future.
I’m looking forward to a future with Rupert. I just hope Aly will not be too scarred and I hope one day she will see Rupert as a father figure, because even though he’s not her real dad, he makes a far better father than a lot of other people know. He’s really, really dedicated. He’s very sweet, quiet and sensitive. He’s a great man and I’m lucky I have this chance. And we’re happy, you know — 95 per cent of the time, we’re happy… when we don’t discuss him. We’re blessed that I’ve had a successful career and I have enough savings and I got this place. Like I said, I’ve had a lot of help. Getting Aly into Methodist Girls’ School [she’s in primary 1] was also thanks to help from a friend. I wasn’t from MGS, I was from Fairfield Methodist. There were a lot of supernatural connections, and it all sorta helped me renew my faith in God. The universe helped me when I was having a really tough time.
Has Rupert moved in with you and Aly?
He has, sort of. Three months into our relationship, he rented a place in the same block as us, two stairwells away. He lived in the East when we first met, and there was a lot of back-and-forth travelling, so he told his landlord he wanted to break the lease. Then a friend of mine wanted to rent an apartment for five months, so she’s living in his apartment and he’s living here. His stuff is mostly still there, which is why this place is still very me, still very feminine. His masculine stuff, like his big Apple computer and all that, is still his apartment. I think this is what makes him so sweet — that he moved into a place near us so he can be with us without imposing.
Your relationship progressed really quickly.
Yeah, it was all pretty intense, but honestly, I’m very thick-skinned at the moment. People can say whatever. The only thing that riles me up is when people talk about Aly. They say mean things, racist things, like “Oh, you’re going out with another ang moh man ’cos you wanna match right, you just want another bi-racial kid. When they bring her into the picture, that’s when I’d get slightly pissed off, but even then it’s like whatever lah. So now Rupert’s dog, Ranulph [the pooch you see in these pics], is also part of our family, and Rupert contributes to the family. He wants to pay our helper, which is fair. He says she helps with Ranulph, and it’s ’cos Rupert stays here as well. I’m so not used to [people other than me paying for things in our house]. He’s like, “Baby, that’s how men should be.” And I’m just like [makes happy sobbing noise].
How is Rupert with Aly?
He’s really good with Aly; she loves him a lot.
Does she see him as a replacement dad?
I think she can definitely see him as a father figure, ’cos sometimes she accidentally calls him “daddy”. She does it with her friends, like, “That’s my daddy,” and also ’cos she doesn’t want to be the odd one out. She still misses her real dad — its biological, right? But [Rupert being around] will help her. He wants to show her that men don’t leave. Sometimes, she gets a bit grumpy and pushes him away and he tells her, “No matter how much you push me away, I’ll always be here for you. I’m not gonna leave you and your mummy.”
Awww. What are your parenting philosophies?
I try to let Aly enjoy her childhood. That’s important for me. I’m not super anal about homework and tests at the moment. I just want her to be happy. I’m very much like, “Let’s talk about feelings; how are you feeling right now?” I’m not about silently loving her. I always say, “I love you very much, you know how much I love you, right? You know how much I love you?” And Aly’s very open with me now. Sometimes when she’s feeling uncomfortable, she’ll tell me, “Mummy, I’m just feeling very grumpy” and I’ll tell her it’s fine to be grumpy, and to talk about what’s bothering her. And if I’m grumpy and I snap at her, I’d apologise and she’d be like, “It’s okay, mama.” We’re very open with each other.
It sounds like for you, having a kid is the best thing ever.
Yeah, for sure. You really don’t know how much you can love until you have kids. Right? It’s the nicest thing in the world to go home to. They’re so nice-smelling! I’m pretty chill, and I want to be friends with my kid. Personally, I’m quite bo chap about a lot of things. My mum is the one buying assessment books, and I’d just leave them in the corner. And now, Rupert helps Aly out with her with the homework we well — he makes it a point to come back at 6.30pm and spend some time with her till I come back from my radio shift at 8.15pm.
They sound really close.
Yeah, they are. Recently, he went away on business, and she was sick, and she was like, “I wish Rupert were here.” Now, instead of calling me, he’s always calling him. Sometimes, she’d call me when I’m doing my radio show, and she’d be like, “Oops, sorry mama, I called the wrong person, I was gonna call Rupert.” She’d ask him, “Where are you? Are you gonna come home now?” (Laughs)
Photos: Ealbert Ho
Art direction: Pyron Tan
Styling: Jerome Awasthi
Make-up: Ginger Lynette
Hair: Kenny Toh