The rising stars of tomorrow
As they say, age is nothing but a number. These 15 individuals might be under 25, but have already achieved successes beyond their age.
Last year, we cast the spotlight on 15 Singaporeans aged 25 and under to watch in 2015. This year, who will be making waves in the areas of television, music, sports, business, fashion and the arts?
MustShareNews highlights this group of individuals worth watching in 2016, in no particular order.
1. Carrie Wong
Who: The 22-year-old might be just a rookie in showbiz, but she definitely has the makings of an ah jie. Last year, Carrie won hearts with her role as Sweet Soup Lass in Channel 8 blockbuster The Journey: Tumultuous Times. Fans can still catch Carrie on the small screen as Bai Meigui in Channel 8 long-running series Life Fear Not.
More than just a pretty face, her acting chops has also earned her a Best Supporting Actress and Best Newcomer nomination in the 2015 Star Awards. Although she lost to Joanne Peh and Aloysius Pang respectively, she bagged her first Top 10 Most Popular Female Artiste Award — a feat for someone who merely entered the industry a year ago.
Why you should look out for her: The Chinese educated starlet stands out by speaking better-than-average Mandarin compared to other actors born in the 90s. Plus, she is one fine actress we can’t take our eyes off.
2. Hayley and Jayley
Who: MediaCorp’s resident twins might very well be Singapore’s own Olsen twins. Before their showbiz debut, the sisters were already popular bloggers with a significant following online. In 2011, they took part in modelling competition The New Paper New Face. While Jayley made it to the finals, Hayley did not make it past round 2.
Although Jayley failed to emerge champion in the competition, she garnered media attention and had opportunities in the entertainment industry. Jayley landed a role in Channel U series Jump!, and later even diversified into hosting lifestyle programme Style: Check-In. She also played supporting roles in Channel 8 dramas Tiger Mum and Super Senior.
Hayley caught up in no time and could be seen in Channel 5 thriller Zero Calling, and Channel 8 dramas 118 and Crescendo, and even Malaysian idol series Dive Into Love.
This year, we’ll be seeing more of the duo on TV with Hayley’s confirmed role in upcoming drama If Only I Could and Jayley’s in The Queen, Beyond Words, and Peace & Prosperity.
Why you should look out for them: Who says locals don’t have talent? They’re the epitome of Singaporean sibling success, and have also proved naysayers wrong. They might be from ITE, but it was certainly not the end for them.
3. Eleanor Lee
Who: Widely known as host Quan Yifeng’s daughter.
Last year, Eleanor gained overnight fame after China’s Apple commercial aired and was dubbed the ‘Apple girl’. With her six-figure paycheck from the advertisement, the filial Eleanor bought her mother a Hermes bag for Christmas in 2014.
But that’s not the last we’ll be seeing of the sweet-faced starlet. The budding actress will star in upcoming blockbuster China TV drama, Tribes and Empires.
Eleanor is more than just a pretty face. Unbeknownst to many, Eleanor is also a budding artist, having collaborated with well-known Beijing-born artist Wu Qiang in November last year (2015). Together, they produced two pieces of artwork to be sold at $13,500 each.
Why you should look out for her: She’s multi-talented – besides starring in commercials, she can also act, draw, and even write and sing her own songs. It might be a tad hard to believe, but she’s only 17 this year. Whut.
4. Tabitha Nauser
Who: Who could forget the talented Tabby who took our breath away during Singapore Idol?
Her star power saw her emerge as the third season of Singapore Idol’s second runner-up, losing only to Sylvia Ratonel and winner Sezairi Sezali. She went on to collaborate with big names such as Steve Appleton, Sean Kingston, Jody Williams and Jessica Mauboy.
Undoubtedly one of the more recognised local singers, Tabby was chosen to represent Asia to sing the Singapore 2010 Youth Olympic Games theme song Everyone. That’s not all — she also sang the 2015 Southeast Asian Games song, Unbreakable.
The singer-turned-DJ has joined 987FM last year, so fans can catch her on air.
Why u should look out for her: The 24-year-old’s the complete package – she’s got the looks, the voice, the talent. Whew, this is one chick you won’t be able to ignore.
5. Sonia Chew
Who: 987’s resident DJ Sonia Chew’s fast becoming a familiar face, with her face plastered everywhere. In 2012, Sonia won 987FM’s deejay search in Radio Star, and landed herself a job with MediaCorp Radio. Since then, the smexy DJ has been doing a good job of putting herself out there, and has also graced the cover of FHM magazine in the April 2014 issue.
Last year, the radio personality hosted her own travel show Travel SSBD (Same Same but Different), a Toggle Originals show. That’s not all — Sonia is also diversifying into acting. In another Toggle originals series, Sonia plays a geeky chemistry teacher Mandy Ng. Sonia can also be seen on television every Tuesday at 8pm on Channel 5, as she hosts a food show You Think You Know: Food In SG.
Fun fact: the young radio deejay had initially planned to go into TV rather than radio, but ultimately felt that radio suited her personality more. Looks like she’s got the best of both worlds now!
Why you should look out for her: Sonia’s got the ability to charm listeners and viewers alike while allowing her goofy personality to shine through. She’s certainly one DJ-host-budding actress we can’t get enough of.
6. Narelle Kheng
Who: One-fourth of popular local indie band The Sam Willows, also known as Benjamin Kheng’s sister. Aside from performing with the band, Narelle has also managed to make a name for herself. For one, she’s the ambassador of reputable hair salon, Kimage Group.
Last year, Narelle starred in Channel 5 telemovie Two Boys and A Mermaid, and even gave her first onscreen kiss to lucky MediaCorp Duke Aloysius Pang.
In September 2015, Narelle joined her brother at artiste management agency FLY Entertainment, which handles Narelle’s independent and non-music related projects.
Narelle’s popularity is definitely on the rise, as affirmed by her fast-growing number of 98k Instagram followers.
Why you should look out for her: From a swimmer to a singer to an actress, what can this multi-hyphenate artiste not do? We think she’ll be able to shake off Big Brother Ben’s shadow and shine on her own this year.
7. Andrea Chong
Who: Touted as the Asian Taylor Swift, Andrea could very well be our own Tay Tay in the fashion sphere. The accidental fashion blogger started getting a following when she hosted Clicknetwork’s show about fashion, That F Word. She soon started her own fashion blog, and the rest is history. In 2014, the fashionista even had the opportunity to emcee for an exclusive Victoria Beckham showcase.
Although the influencer has stopped hosting for That F Word, her popularity is steadily on the rise. These days, the founder of digital advertising agency DC Creative is probably in her Instagram-worthy office getting inspiration for her creative work. That is, if she’s not busy jet-setting around the world and posting enviable wanderlust-inducing pictures on Instagram.
Why you should look out for her: With her name synonymous with fashion, girls turn to her for fashion inspiration while guys (or even girls!) stalk her as a source of eye candy. Now, who says Singaporeans don’t dress well?
8. Naomi Neo
Who: She’s Singapore’s youngest, most influential personality. On Instagram, she has 258k followers. Although she’s still studying, she makes more than the average fresh grad. Girls look up to her as they can relate to her, and guys stalk her because she has big boobs a pretty face. Despite her young age, she already has several titles under her belt — she’s a blogger, YouTuber, Instagram influencer, and even an ambassador for Sunsilk. It’s no wonder she bagged the Top Lifestyle Influencer and Influencers’ Choice awards at Asia’s largest social media awards show, Influence Asia.
Last year, Naomi also broke hearts when she announced the split with her boyfriend of 1.5 years, Jianhao Tan. Following the breakup, Naomi went on a hiatus on social media, but she’s now back in action.
Why you should look out for her: The NAFA student has to juggle schoolwork and her responsibilities as an influencer. With so much on her plate, she still manages to curate quality content for her followers. She’s also more active on YouTube now, and we think her diversification will gain her even more followers.
9. Soh Peishi
Who: Peishi has over 251k followers on Instagram, and faces head-on competition with Naomi Neo.
The Republic Polytechnic graduate in Hospitality has had an entrepreneurial streak in her since young, and used to model for her own blogshop, the now-defunct Speishop.
In 2012, Peishi joined the Cineleisure’s Next Online Sensation (CNOS) competition with blogger Rachell Tan, and emerged the winners. The influencer engages her followers by actively vlogging and creating content such as beauty videos on YouTube, as well as updating her personal social media accounts. Her large following has also led to a steady stream of brands such as KFC, Juicy Couture and more clamouring for space on her social media platforms.
Last year, she also made her television debut with a cameo appearance on Channel 5’s Lion Moms.
Why you should look out for her: Although she used to be a victim of bullying, Peishi has risen and proved naysayers wrong. Also, the sweet-faced influencer might just be Singapore’s very own makeup guru — like Bubzbeauty, whom Peishi looks up to.
10. Ruben Pang
Who: The emerging artist is best known for his stunning ethereal paintings on aluminium. Since his graduation from Lasalle College of the Arts in 2010, the fine arts student had already held five solo exhibitions — the latest being Ataraxy at Chan Hampe Galleries last year (2015). In 2014, Ruben made headlines as nine of his paintings were sold within a mere hour at ArtStage Singapore. He is represented by two galleries, namely Singapore’s Chan Hampe Galleries and Italy’s Primo Marella Gallery in Milan.
Ruben was also the first participant picked to complete a three-month artist residency in Israel, in Serge Tiroche’s artist incubator project.
The rising star had also received the Georgette Chen Arts Scholarship, the Winston Oh Travelogue Award, and was shortlisted for regional competition Sovereign Asian Art Prize in 2010 and 2011.
Why you should look out for him: With painters like Ruben, the local arts scene doesn’t seem to be dying anytime soon. Who knows — his works might even inspire more talented individuals to pursue art in Singapore!
11. Mermaid Syrena
Who: The National University of Singapore English Literature student, whose real name is Cara Nicole Neo, is better known by her alter ego “Mermaid Syrena”. Since she was a child, Syrena has been fascinated with the mythical creature. Epiphany struck when Syrena purchased a swimmable fin tail online while looking for a Halloween costume, and her transformation began. Mermaid Syrena has been well loved by children and adults alike, and has been gracing corporate events and children’s parties since July 2013.
Why you should look out for her: She’s Singapore’s very own Ariel. The mermaid-turned-entrepreneur is certainly an inspiration for those who are stuck in the rut — if she can turn her hobby into a career, so can you!
12. Magdalene Chan
Who: At the tender age of 14, Magdalene already had a taste of being her own boss. Together with her sister Clare, the duo founded fashion retail site Her Velvet Vase in 2007, a time where the fashion e-commerce sphere was relatively untouched. The sisters specialised in designing and manufacturing their own label, selling apparel, accessories, and footwear, eventually creating a niche for their brand. Today, Her Velvet Vase has expanded to New York City, where Mag is based.
Mag has been studying fashion design at the prestigious Parsons School of Design since 2013, and is currently on a one-year sabbatical from the operations in Singapore to run the New York office. Mag handles the design and creative aspects of the business.
Why you should look out for her: With Mag based in the fashion capital, we can only expect the homegrown label to offer the most fashion forward outfits.
13. Safuwan Baharudin
Who: The former LionsXII and Melbourne City player has signed for Malaysian side PDRM FA on a one-year loan deal, following the LionsXII’s disbandment after they were ousted from the Malaysian Super League. The versatile player is able to play as a midfielder, defender or as a forward.
He was the first Singaporean to play in the A-league during his stint as a centre-back for Melbourne City. Further, Safuwan also holds the honour of being the first Singaporean featured in the popular video game FIFA 15.
Why you should look out for him: With his attributes and versatility, Safuwan is undoubtedly one of the most talented footballers in the local football scene. Who knows what his newly-inked deal with PDRM will bring to the table to the local football scene this year?
14. Quah Zheng Wen
Who: The national swimmer is a prolific name in the swimming scene. His bragging rights started in June 2012 when he set a national record in the 200m medley. That same year, he finished in 33rd position in the Men’s 400m individual medley at the Summer Olympics.
At the 2013 Asian Youth Games, Zheng Wen won three individual gold medals and one silver medal.
More recently, at the SEA Games last year (2015), Zheng Wen dominated the pool and won the men’s 400m individual medley. He took part in 12 categories over six days and won a medal in all of them, bagging seven Golds, four Silvers, and one Bronze, which made him the Games’ most bemedalled athlete.
In Aug 2015, the swimmer clinched a Bronze for 100m backstroke final at the FINA World Cup, breaking existing national records. His timing of 54.03 seconds made him a qualifier for the 2016 Summer Olympics Games. Although he’s supposed to be serving NS, his pro-ness earned him a deferment from NS.
Why you should look out for him: Look at ‘em six packs. All eyes will surely be on him as he competes in the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. Will he be able to break records once again and bring honour to Singapore?
15. Sasha Christian
Who: The full-time wakeboarder started waterskiing at the age of three, and switched to wakeboarding when she was five. At 11, she had already became a national wakeboarding champion and won bronze at the Asian Wakeboard Championships in 2009. In 2010, Sasha became the first and only Singaporean out of 520 sponsored athletes to get a Red Bull sponsorship, joining the likes of international stars including X Games champions Shaun White, Lindsey Vonn and Travis Pastrana, Formula One drivers Mark Webber and Sebastian Vettel, and Boston Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo.
In 2011, Sasha bagged a gold medal for the SEA Games. At her second SEA Games last year (2015), Sasha won gold medals in three out of four events she competed in: wakeboard team, wakeboard individual and the slalom individual, but fell short of qualifying for the finals of the women’s overall event.
Why you should look out for her: With her reputation as South East Asia’s top female wakeboarder, we’ll be watching this girl’s every move. It also doesn’t hurt that she’s one hot athlete. You go, girl!
Are local talents recognised?
Singapore might be a little red dot, but she is filled with people who have the vision and drive to help steer the city. While some Singaporeans had to be famous overseas before attaining fame back home, it’ll be interesting to see if these noteworthy individuals can make it big enough locally before establishing their names overseas.
Meanwhile, we’ll be keeping tabs on these talented people.
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