You can’t compare apples and oranges, and the same goes for actors and influencers, according to Joanne Peh.
In a recent interview with Lianhe Zaobao, Joanne explained that there is a difference between the two celebrity types — showbiz celebrities and internet celebrities — and that this difference is causing problems for young actors.
“I think artistes will feel pressure from influencers,” the 40-year-old veteran actress began, adding that she was saddened by their predicament.
“I often tell young actors that we aren’t influencers and we shouldn’t compare ourselves with them. Our online traffic won’t be better than theirs.”
Explaining her belief, Joanne said that actors may ‘disappear’ from social platforms for periods of time. However, things are different for influencers.
She stated: “Their job is to create online content every day. Comparing the traffic they get with the traffic actors get is extremely unfair.”
But some actors still aim to improve their presence online and pursue similar paths to influencers, Joanne pointed out.
For these people, there is “no time to improve themselves” and find “breakthroughs” in the performing arts.
“What they care about isn’t improving their acting skills, but instead inflating their numbers. How can they have the time to read books, go to classes, watch others’ performances and practise acting?
“There’s no online traffic to be had in doing these things that improve their acting skills.”
But things are also different now as compared to the past, according to Joanne.
Directors back in the day would painstakingly craft shows, while the actors and actresses used to pay close attention to scripts and roles, focusing on performing things well.
Once a show is released, audiences would remember the actors behind these roles due to some memorable characters they’ve played or any unforgettable TV series they acted in, Joanne recalled.
“Now, actors have fewer opportunities like these,” she admitted.
‘Any news is better than no news’
With acting being such a difficult field to make a breakthrough in, sometimes you have to take what you can get, as Joanne shared with Zaobao.
“Any news is better than no news at all,” she asserted. “Perhaps it’s because my resilience towards pressure is stronger than before… I’ve been able to take a step back and look at things from a macro perspective.”
She even took the initiative to bring up her past controversies in her interview with the morning daily, including her ignorance towards the Russia-Ukraine war and the argument she had about the price of coconuts in Singapore.
Joanne said: “I could have chosen not to express my opinions, but I think it’s necessary to let those who support me know what my perspective is.
“I’ve always believed that everyone can have different viewpoints — you can communicate and choose not to agree with me, but we shouldn’t silence divergent thoughts.”
Additionally, people nowadays are more “forgetful”, she also said, opining that news nowadays has little permanence, compared to how news in the past would be keenly remembered.
“If a big incident occurs, it’ll be the talk of the town for a while, but soon after everyone will forget what it was about.”
She added: “Don’t worry about negative news because it will soon be forgotten.”
Concerns of an actor
Joanne also shared some of the hardships she faced regarding her career.
Her most troubled period was when she had her first child with local actor Qi Yuwu and didn’t renew her contract with Mediacorp, she told Zaobao.
Making the abrupt change from full-time artiste to an independent one was quite a drastic one, as she no longer had a manager to care for her and a monthly salary to rely on, all while she needed to care for her child.
She expressed: “It was actually quite scary and hard to predict what would happen next. I was worried that I would be stereotyped in a certain way after having a child and that my acting career would end because of it.”
Joanne also added that being an actor is actually a very lonely thing to do, because the ultimate portrayal of the character depends solely on the actors themselves.
“No one can help you — if you can’t feel [and understand] your character, then you simply can’t. The pressure is all on you — you’re actually very alone.”