Chng Xin Xuan

A cup of Costa coffee in hand, Chng Xin Xuan strolls into Starbucks on time for our chat. “I’m just going to cover this up with a tissue and pretend it’s a Starbucks,” she laughed.

Candid, uncensored and genuine – that’s Xin Xuan. Having attained a degree from Lasalle College, this 23 year old fledgling actress is already warming up on the theater circuit.

Xin Xuan will be playing Gillian Koh, an aspiring writer in search of her voice, while navigating the various milestones that growing up brings in The Way We Go presented by Checkpoint Theatre. The play also stars Lydia Look, Neo Swee Lin, Patrick Teoh and Julie Wee.

From L to R - Julie Wee, Neo Swee Lin, Lydia Look, Patrick Teoh, and Chng Xin Xuan in The Way We Go

“I got an audition notice from my friend Jerusha, and so I went for it,” shared Xin Xuan. “I felt good about the audition. My role was someone I was able to relate to – a person who goes with the flow with no concrete goals…exactly how I am.”

Paper Thin

Xin Xuan didn’t aspire to enter theater initially. Like many of her peers, her heart was set on ballet. But when she realized she was capable of making people laugh, it stirred the desire in her to perform for others and act.

“During a speech and drama class, we had to come together as a group, and act as a moving object. Our group decided to act as a typewriter, so all of us had to be different parts. I was the paper. I remember standing up and then falling down as the paper would go, ‘Ding!’ We did it quite a few times, and my knees hurt so bad. But everyone was laughing each time I hit the floor.’” reminisced Xin Xuan.

Chng Xin Xuan (L) and Julie Wee (R)

“That got me really excited, to be able to make people laugh.”

That seemingly innocuous realization during her ballet class led to her joining the drama club, a “safe haven to relieve stress from school, and from work”.

However, the journey wasn’t all smooth sailing for Xin Xuan.

The Long and Hard Way

Ask any performer who decides to dive into the waters of any professional arts scene and you will learn that their dreams come with a price tag, which sometimes include changing the mindsets of their loved ones.

“One day while at school, my mum called me and went, ‘Get home now. I didn’t know that your school fees are $20,000 next year. I can’t afford that. Get back now.’” Xin Xuan revealed.

Julie Wee (R) and Chng Xin Xuan (L)

Fortunately, she had her fair of supporters. She remembers the exact words of encouragement from her lecturer – “Screw [the expensive school fees]. Just do what you want to do.”

Eventually, her determination was rewarded with a scholarship. Opening up to her mum about her struggles also helped, and made her understand theater more. “She wanted to be supportive. It’s just that she didn’t understand what this was all about.”

The actress might have gained the support of her mother, but her father is taking a while to come around to her new profession. One day, while watching Sister Act 2 with her father, a line stood out: “You think that you’re a performer? You think you’re a singer? Look down the street, there’s so many other singers out there, what makes you think that you’re special?”

“You see?” her father replied with a knowing nod to her.

Xin Xuan was heartbroken. “He’s just keeping quiet. Till this day, I don’t know if he’s ok or not ok. But I do hope he comes to watch my performance,” said Xin Xuan, still calm and seemingly unaffected.

She continues, “I believe that any parent wants the same for their children, and is worried for them. But if I show that I’m able to take care of myself, I don’t need to have them to approve or support me. Just them knowing that I can survive is enough for me.”

To Xin Xuan, it’s not about an ultimate goal. It’s about a never-ending journey to experience, to play the role of different characters and to constantly surprise herself and others around her. Just like what she did years ago falling like paper to the amusement of her friends.

The affable lady delivers a parting shot, a reminder of her candid disposition and uncanny ability to humor others.

“Should I leave my Costa coffee here so you can pretend you had a drink?” she chuckled.

Photographs courtesy of Checkpoint Theatre


The Way We Go (Tickets available at SISTIC!)

Venue: SOTA Studio Theatre

Dates: Nov 20 – 29

Runtime: Tue – Fri: 8pm

Sat & Sun: 3pm & 8pm

Cast: Lydia Look, Neo Swee Lin, Patrick Teoh, Julie Wee, Chng Xin Xuan

Director: Claire Wong