Disney-Pixar has produced some of the most visually stunning films of the last 25 years, and they have great stories as well. When I got offered the chance to be a part of Onward, I didn’t hesitate.
My path [in Hollywood] started with working in the casting department, and I had, I think, six directors asking me if I wanted to audition for things. I wasn’t trained as an actor, so I really kept my acting desires hidden at that point.
I am a huge fan of [A Time to Kill] director Joel Schumacher, and also of [co-stars] Samuel L Jackson and Sandra Bullock. I can’t explain it – I just felt compelled to ask Joel for an audition [in what would end up being my film debut]. I desperately wanted to play the woman who started the riots, but he told me I was too sweet-looking and should read as Sandy’s nurse instead. To cut a long story short, I did, and somehow got it.
When I look back and think how fortunate I was that somebody like Joel was my first director, and then all of the incredible directors I have got to work with since, it all seems a bit of a dream. There are of course others I haven’t worked with that I admire – we will just have to see what the future holds.
Diversity [constitutes] people of all colours, shapes, sizes, varying backgrounds and socio-economic levels. Of course I want more African-American stories, but I also want more Latinx stories and Asian stories, too. So much of what we see from people of diversity in Hollywood is still stereotypical. Fundamentally, that won’t change until we stop supporting with our dollars stories that don’t represent us.
In the past, I have said that my dream role is not a character or a figure from history. My dream role is that of a producer – a woman behind the scenes – who creates roles for diversity in films. I want to help create an industry that demonstrates what our society is as a whole.
I want the movies I create [as an executive producer] to show a broader spectrum of the world – in all shapes, sizes and religions – but at the same time also be compelling and interesting stories that the audience wants to watch. It is called show business after all!
Acting is an outlet I always secretly hoped I could share with the world, but writing [children’s books series Randi Rhodes, Ninja Detective] is something I never thought I would have the chance to do. I used to hate reading out loud as a kid because of my dyslexia, so my books are a message to kids. It doesn’t matter what your situation is in life – your path is what you choose it to be.
I am a puzzle person. I am dyslexic and so the way that I learn is very different. Producing, acting, voice acting – everything is a puzzle for me. That’s how I process things.
If it’s a work-related trip then I will spend a lot of my travel time preparing for that, but I also really love to read. If it’s a long-haul journey, you can easily get through a book.
Last year, I was only at home for about eight weeks. If you travel so much for work, I think it’s really important to bring something that reminds you of home. For me, that is NEST Fragrances’ Orange Blossom candles. Obviously, I don’t light them on flights.
A selection of fun books to inspire kids to travel
Sayonara, Mrs Kackleman
by Maira Kalman
Follow two young siblings as they explore Japan and learn about a very different culture from their own.
Secrets of Singapore
by Lesley-Anne Tan and Monica Lim, illustrated by James Tan
You can expect an insightful look into the history of the Lion City, including some facts that even grown-ups won’t know.
A Walk in Paris
by Salvatore Rubbino
To book a flight, visit singaporeair.com
This article was originally published in the March 2020 issue of SilverKris magazine