Google ‘how to become famous today’ and you’ll get billions of results in less than a second. In this age of social media, it’s easy to think that success can easily come to anyone capable of posting something entertaining online and making it viral. While this seems to work to a selected few, if you look closely at it, most overnight successes actually took a long time.
No, success does not happen overnight. It takes months, sometimes years and decades, of dedication, hard work, and perseverance. As the old adage goes: nothing worth having comes easy. If you want your influence to last a lifetime, you have to spend a lot of time, effort, and resources to create a significant and lasting impact just like two of Singapore’s most successful stars of today: Denise Camillia Tan and James Seah.
Denise Camillia Tan
Like many, Denise Camillia started as a clueless teenager who’s uncertain of what she wanted to do in life and the many things that she’s capable of doing. She was initially into Fashion Designing when an opportunity made itself open and brought her to Miss Astro Chinese International Pageant. For someone so reserved, it took a lot of courage to be bold and say ‘yes’ to all of her uncertainties.
After winning the competition, she was sent to Hong Kong to represent Malaysia, where she competed with other beauty queens from all parts of the world. Denise believes that accepting all these challenges helped build her personality and character. Submitting herself to these adversaries brought out her real potentials she never thought she had.
From beauty pageants, Denise moved to do variety shows where she met one of the managers in the celebrity agency who brought her to Singapore. There and then began her journey as an actress. While it’s easy to picture her life with all the glitz and glamour, Denise admits that there were a lot of obstacles that she has to go through. For one, she has to cut extremely short her long hair to fit a role in Channel 8 drama, Key Witness. She was also prompted to go out of her shell and portray roles she never thought she can do.
Aside from these, one of the biggest sacrifices that she has to do in line with her work is giving up her time with her family. Coming from a tightly-knitted family, it’s very difficult for Denise to move far from them. Nevertheless, she’s very grateful for how understanding they are to her situation, of what is expected from her on the field that she has chosen.
“I believe that you shouldn’t limit yourself. You can be wherever you want to be. (By doing so,) you get to experience different lives, like all walks of life – something that you don’t get to do every day on a normal day. Denise feels very passionate about her work as an actress, and she gets totally excited with the many roles she hopes to play in the future.
White Sneaker, Jimmy Choo
B .Zero Rose Gold pendant necklace and earrings, Bvlgari
Despite the growing number of social media personalities thriving right now, Denise feels immensely excited to work with the newcomers in the industry. She sees these changes as evidence that the industry is growing. “I think that in a drama or movie, it is always a collaborative process. You need a group of people to work as a team to make this happen. You can’t just have one person to do the whole show. It’s impossible. You need different kinds of ranges of ages and personalities to carry through.”
Denise sees herself among these newbies and she believes that without the people who gave her an opportunity back then, she wouldn’t be where she is right now. She knows that everyone is special in their own way and it’s useless to compare herself to those younger or older than her. Everyone has something to offer. Everyone has different stories to tell. No need to keep up; rather, work at your own pace.
She keeps her doors open to opportunities that come to her no matter how challenging they tend to be – like her recent hosting projects. She confesses that the transition from acting to hosting was not easy. Compared to movies and TV series where she had to develop a character, hosting requires a different set of skills: not having scripts, putting on your own speeches, having to speak of your own truths and experiences, and having no cuts. Sure, there were doubts. But for someone who does not want to regret doing something that she feels she can do, she took on the challenge and did an excellent job on Astro Battleground 2016 and We Are An “Ordinary Cooking Show”.
Shoes, Jimmy Choo
B. Zero Rose Gold earring cuff, ring, and necklace, Bvlgari
At present, Denise utilizes her social media platforms to inspire people to go after their passion – that it’s possible to achieve your dreams if you are willing to work hard for them. Instead of capitalizing on social pressure, she wants to promote positivity and make people feel happy. In the same way with her projects, she hopes that her roles can inspire people, that they can sense the sincerity she puts into them, that people can resonate with the character that she’s representing. “I think success is being able to inspire people. Not on unexpected moments, but when you are doing the right thing; when you are right on track.”
James Seah needs no further introduction. His charming good looks and epic roles played on screen would speak so much of his success as an actor. No one would think that he was dealing with language difficulties when he entered the industry. And what’s rather unexpected is that despite his suave and cool image, he once never thought of becoming an actor as he grew up struggling to develop his confidence.
Blazer and trousers, Sandro
But “Star Search 2010” changed everything he thought he knew about himself. The competition opened many opportunities for him – including the opportunity to challenge himself. He chanced upon acting and fell in love with it. And despite the growing number of newcomers in the industry, thanks to the rise of social media influencers, James does not falter or feel threatened. He believes in healthy competition and in the new ideas and perspectives that these rising stars can offer to the industry. Just as how he was welcomed when he started, he thinks that it’s important to help and continuously learn from each other to improve and probably fix the holes in the industry.
James is a firm believer that hard work pays off – to keep everything on track, slow and steady but still focused on the race. What’s meant for you will always find its way back to you. Having been brought up by traditional media, he was able to learn a whole new set of skills that took a lot of time and effort to hone. And while advertisers are very much meticulous with the number of followers and engagement that influencers are building up online, he still believes that there’s more to those figures than what meets the eye. More than the numbers, advertisers must also be keen on the kind of influence these social media personalities are creating – whether this person suits the brand or not.
James has been utilizing his social media platform in spreading positivity and writing words of encouragement to people. With all the negativities reported over the news, he wants to amplify that there’s still something good and worth celebrating, something positive around us.
“I don’t need to prove anything. I feel that there’s not a time when I feel that I should feel that way. Because everything in life happens for a purpose. We don’t need these kinds of things for validation. I am happy with what comes my way. You go through (something) for a reason. Challenges make you a better person in whatever circumstances that you are in. As long as you can live comfortably, that’s great.”
Photographed by: Emerson Baun
Makeup by Keith Bryant Lee using Shiseido
Hair (Denise) by: Peter Lim | Monsoon Hair Professional
Hair (James) by: Eugene Ong of @urbanhair
Grooming /Styling (Denise) by Dolphin Yeo | @dolphin_galleria
Video by: Mary Jane Manglicmot
Video Editor: Niccole Mendoza
Overall Styling by: Joy del Rosario
Overall coordination: Juliana Chan
Shot on location at In the Studio SG
Set-up design & overall creative direction by the Gen-Z production team