I attended a talk today by none other than Irene Ang better known as Rosie from Phua Chu Kang fame.
Her's was to be motivational talk held at the grand National Museum of Singapore - part of the National Heritage's Board current campaign Explore Singapore.
"Motivational talk by Irene Ang? You gotta be kiddin' right?" - yup that was my reaction too. For someone who's TV persona was so frivolous, finding substance behind the character was to take a significant leap of faith. But I'm glad I did.
Yes there was the expected Singlish jokes and the ever-present dash of in-your-face humour. But that aside, her story was still moving.
With unbridled honesty, she related the struggle of her youth. Her father was a smuggler of just about everything. Family tension drove her mother to drugs. She found herself homeless three times. She failed her O levels, and her A levels (twice) and when her little band of friends moved on to further their studies, she found herself alone once again.
(bet ya didn't know that!). So all she ended up with was a cut on her head when she hit a rock in her plunge to meet her fate.
But she picked herself up. Ended up acting (earning just about $900 a month as the lead actress on PCK) and later on when to start her own talent agency Fly Entertainment 'cos she realised that many local entertainers in Singapore were getting a raw deal simply because they had no one to fight for them. And Irene hasn't looked back since.
I can't honestly recall all her Seven Steps to Success (or whatever she called it) but it went something like have faith in yourself, realise that the storm of ill luck will pass and when all else fails, put your trust in the God you believe in knowing that you had done everything humanly possible to help yourself.
Okay these weren't exactly earth-shattering revelations but I do have a lot of admiration for her as a person and in her disarming honestly in telling the world of her ... well "colourful" past. So hearing from someone who's fate dealt her a raw hand and yet was able to claw her way back up, adds to the credibility and her talk about self-belief, is a reminder we can all do with from time to time.
So was the hour-long talk worth it? - you bet!
Determined to succeed (and make more money than her friends), she took on a string of jobs - working for insurance agencies and credit card companies. And when the going got too tough, she even contemplated suicide. But she found that trying to drown herself at the breakwaters off East Coast Parkway wasn't as easy as it seemed. Irene was after all, a competitive swimmer and a SEA Games medalists