UrbanWire: “Nice to meet you! Thanks for taking the time out to see us.”

Oon Shu An: “Hi, nice to meet you! Are you all going to get any drinks?”


Just as we mentioned that we’d get some water, she came back with two cups before we even realised it. Wait a minute, we’re supposed to be the gentlemen!

Singaporean actress and artist, Oon Shu An, is as friendly as fans of her makeup review web series Tried and Tested would expect. The enthusiasm with which she speaks is as prevalent as her acting credentials. In fact, it’s quite hard to recall a point in the interview that she didn’t have a big smile on her face.

At just 29, her impressive local and international portfolio includes hosting the popular ClickNetwork.tv’s web show and playing a vital role as a concubine in the US Netflix series Marco Polo. She is currently seen in the lead role of an animated defence attorney in Channel 5’s Code of Law.

Her latest challenge, however, comes in the form of solving the personality puzzle of new teacher Sarah Hew, whom she portrays in the new local theatre production Normal. Performing at the Drama Centre Black Box from 9 to 19 April, Normal explores how students from the Normal Academic (NA) stream in a secondary school cope with various societal expectations. Written by Faith Ng, an ex NA student herself, it looks to be an authentic recount of the everyday struggles usually unseen by those outside of the bubble.

Oon_Shu_An_Normal_2(Photo courtesy of Checkpoint Theatre. Photo Credit: Crispian Chan.)

Shu An will also be starring in Singapore’s first R21-rated sex comedy “Rubbers” premiering on 30 April. Don’t know much about this new It girl who is lighting up our TV, stage and movie screens? Here are 3 things to get you started.


  1. Her Parents’ Nervous Decision Started Her Acting Career

When Shu An was only 6 years old, her parents felt anxious that she was overly quiet. So they did the next logical thing to get their daughter to open up: Send her to Speech & Drama class.

That turned out to be the catalyst that led to her career path. She loved the lessons and subsequently joined the Drama Club in secondary school, and studied acting in LASELLE College of the Arts.

“Acting was always great because I actually understood what was going on, (while) textbooks were very difficult for me to understand,” she tells UrbanWire. “I feel a lot for things, and I can’t make sense of it if I don’t know how you feel about it. So acting was a way for me to access the world, which is why I love it.”


It isn’t easy having a career in the arts sector, she admits, especially with the unstable pay. “I think the business of being an actor is very different from (just) being an actor. As a freelancer, there are a lot of things you need to look out for, like negotiating rates, making sure people pay you, or what you want for your career and also the realities of life“ says Shu An, who has built up a certain resilience after years in the industry.


  1. She’s Great at Stage Improvisation

Everyone has times where they screw up, and that usually leads to some form of life lesson at the end of it. For 14-year old Shu An, performing in a particular school drama taught her the importance of learning her lines.

“A bell was supposed to ring so that the next actor will come in for the next part,” she recollected vividly. “But someone had skipped a line!” It was squeaky bum time.

Oon_Shu_An_Normal(Photo courtesy of Checkpoint Theatre. Photo Credit: Crispian Chan.)

In front of a live audience, she and her fellow actors who had forgotten their lines panicked and headed towards a script cleverly hidden in an inconspicuous magazine used as a prop. “We were flipping through the script and we were like, ‘Someone skipped 4 pages of it.’”

In a moment of innocent genius and inspirational improvisation, the young Shu An shouted: “I’m a psychic! The doorbell is going to ring!” And the backstage crew rang the doorbell.

The worst part? “I think it was me who skipped (a few) pages ahead,” she blushed at the memory. Since then, an important lesson is forever engrained in her mind: “Remember your godd*** lines!”


  1. She Sees A Unicorn in Everyone

Nominated for Best Original Script at the upcoming 2015 M1-The Straits Times Life! Theatre Awards, her 2014 solo theatre play #UnicornMoment was inspired by the rough patch she went through when she felt upset about many things. She needed something to hang on to and the cute unicorn became her saving grace. Her belief in the unique metaphor that the unicorn somehow represents hope in everyone symbolises Shu An’s personality.

“I think the way we’ve been taught to understand specialness is (when) you are put above everybody else… when really, there is something about you that is special, not in the way that needs to be celebrated, but it just is,” she laments.

Oon_Shu_An_Unicorn_Moment(Shu An’s YouTube Video: The Secret to Not Feeling Lonely… #UnicornMoment Ep.3)

When admirers proclaim that they want to be just like her, it often bugs her more than it flatters. She believes that everyone is unique and that you simply have to find what that is to you, and not anyone else. As she eloquently puts it, “The unicorn is invisible but you can’t prove that it doesn’t exist.”

After almost a year of hiatus, Shu An’s team are in the midst of editing and refining a new video for the #UnicornMoment YouTube series, and are working on more ideas. We, for one, can’t wait to see how it turns out!


The sky is the limit for this talented, paradoxical actress, who despite her bubbly and chatty persona, still describes herself as pensive. Perhaps one day, she’ll win an Oscar, appear on Forbes magazine or actually find a unicorn. Who knows? We can’t prove it doesn’t exist.