Contributed By Yong Yung Shin
2011 looks to be one good year for Michelle Chong. Not only did her TV series, The Noose, score a nomination at the recent International Emmy Awards 2011 (an impressive enough feat for a local production, never mind the fact it did not win), she finally realized a nine-year-long dream of directing a movie.
In her directorial debut Already Famous, for which she also wrote the screenplay, she leads the cast as Ah Kiao, a kampong girl from Yong Peng, Malaysia, who dreams of becoming a Singaporean actress. Armed with nothing more than an encyclopedic knowledge of Singapore’s top celebrities and a will of steel, she crosses the causeway and comes against haughty model agents, brash talent scouts and backbiting Guardian store assistants.
In a nutshell, it’s a story about following one’s dreams as an underdog. The movie also offers a rare insight into the local entertainment industry—beneath every funny moment lies a piece of hard truth about the world of showbiz, and indeed, life in general.
There’s also no lack of support from friends in the industry, with guest appearances by Chua Enlai, Irene Ang, Patricia Mok (in a particularly funny, self-deprecating role), Nat Ho, Kumar and David Gan, among others.
Finding a comfortable spot between the inanely slapstick and the try-too-hard arthouse stuff that populate the local production list, Already Famous showcases Chong’s knack for comedic timing, a sensibility for whimsy and a promising hand at creative direction and script-writing.