Who says Singaporeans are untalented?

Although Singapore might be a small island, we clearly have no lack of talents. We highlight (in no particular order) 15 young people under 25 to watch – from a fashion icon to a footballer – who have already accomplished far beyond their age and is set to achieve even more. The future of Singapore looks bright already, with these talented individuals.

1. Julie Tan

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Who: 23-year-old Julie Tan made her acting debut in 2009, starring as an intellectually-disabled girl in telemovie The Promise. That same year, she won second place in The New Paper New Face contest. She then made her way to the silver screens in Judgement Day and The Girl in Pinafore, and even sang the former’s theme song. Just last year, she hosted Channel U’s A Date with K-Pop Stars, where she got to spend time with famous K-Pop stars. The Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts (NAFA) graduate was also the first from Singapore selected by L’Oreal Professionnel to be their celebrity spokesperson.

Why you should look out for her: With an impressive resume of singing, hosting, modelling and dancing, we’re sure to be seeing more of Julie Tan. Catch her on upcoming Channel 8 blockbuster The Journey: Our Homeland debuting 6 July 2015 at 9pm, Monday to Friday.

2. Aloysius Pang

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Who: Aloysius Pang, who bears uncanny resemblance to child star Shawn Lee from I Not Stupid, was also a child actor. However, at the age of 14, he stopped acting because of the incessant teasing from his peers. In 2012, Pang made a comeback in a film Timeless Love, directed by Dasmond Koh. Subsequently, he landed roles in Mediacorp blockblusters like Poetic Justice and C.L.I.F. In 2014, the actor was crowned one of the “8 Dukes of Caldecott Hill”. The same year, he made his directorial debut, directing singer Gavin Teo’s music video, “I Understand”. This year, he even released his first single, “Black Tears”.

Why you should look out for him: 25-year-old Pang shows us how the tough gets going when the going gets tough. He has come full circle since the taunting he faced as a teen and has achieved more than just being an actor. Take that, naysayers!

3. Kimberly Haley Wang

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Who: Some may find 24-year-old Kimberly Haley Wang a familiar face – that’s because she made her debut in showbiz when she was nine years old. The Wee Kim Wee School of Communication and Information (WKWSCI) graduate’s most outstanding role is that of spoilt brat Lana in 2004’s Double Happiness, alongside Ivy Lee and Xie Shaoguang. In 2011, Wang participated in Mediacorp’s talent search So You Wanna Be a DJ, emerging the victor over 400 others. Her win earned her a one-year stint at 98.7FM. She proved her worth and is now a familiar voice on the station.

Why you should look out for her: With her down-to-earth personality and self-deprecating sense of humour, this radio darling’s got our vote.

4. Willabelle Ong

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Who: Leading fashion blog Pale Division is the brainchild of 21-year-old Perth-based Singaporean, Willabelle Ong. The blog was launched as an outlet for Ong to document her life, fashion inspirations and style in 2011, but evolved to something bigger. Recognised as one of Australia’s top fashion bloggers, Ong’s unique sense of style has garnered her a wide fanbase. The blogger has also made appearances worldwide, on the New York Times, Nylon, and Fashion TV. Her impressive portfolio includes collaborations with Gucci, Longines, Topshop, SK-II, Shiseido, Swarovski and more.

Why you should look out for her: You know she’s It when even Hollywood celebrities like Vanessa Hudgens (yes, the High School Musical star!) and Melissa Joan Hart (remember Sabrina?) follow her on Twitter.

5. Nadia Rahmat

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Who: 24-year-old Singaporean Nadia Rahmat was selected by world-renowned fashion brand Marc by Marc Jacobs (MBMJ) to be featured in its Spring/Summer campaign. Rahmat, a freelance model, has modeled for local labels like Yesah and Mash-up. While reading Oyster magazine last year, the model came across an Instagram casting ad by MBMJ and decided to enter for the fun of it, by hashtagging #CastMeMarc on a photo of herself. There were 100,000 submitted entries and Rahmat was one of the two Asians out of 11 chosen individuals to take final campaign shots – the other being South Korea’s Eun Bi.

Why you should look out for her: She’s the first Singaporean face to appear in a Marc by Marc Jacobs ad. ‘Nuff said.

6. Tan Jian Hao

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Who: Unabashedly calling himself the Singaporean Youtube sensation, 22-year-old Tan Jian Hao indeed lives up to this title, with his YouTube channel boasting over 260,000 subscribers. His most popular video on teenagers past and present garnered over 2 million views. Starting off with almost zero cinematography skills, Tan saw himself as just “someone with a camera”. Today, Tan shoots, directs, acts, produces and writes for his videos. His production studio, The Jian Hao Tan, was registered in July and had three employees as of December last year. He earns a six-figure annual income.

Why you should look out for him: One of the youngest Singaporean YouTube star to make it big in the scene, his videos are often entertaining and relatable to the average Singaporean, from student life to how to get famous. His equally popular girlfriend, Naomi Neo, often appears in his videos too 😉

7. Benjamin Kheng

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Who: One quarter of local indie band, the 25-year-old is a part of the Sam Willows, together with his sister Narelle Kheng and their two friends. The band was formed in mid 2012 and has been making waves since. Nevertheless, this talented actor-musician-writer has also been making a name for himself in the industry. In 2013, Kheng performed in EDGES the Musical, a production about the struggles of young adults transitioning from their adolescence years. Last year, the artiste could be seen on stage as recruit Ken Chow in Ah Boys to Men: The Musical. He also starred in Mediacorp Channel 5’s show Do It Yourself, a home furnishing variety show. More recently, Kheng was seen performing for M1 Singapore Fringe Festival 2015’s play, White Rabbit Red Rabbit, which explores the themes of art and loss.

Why you should look out for him: Is there anything this heartthrob can’t do? From home furnishing to singing, this is one artiste we’ll be keeping tabs on.

8. Joel Tan

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Who: 21-year-old singer-songwriter Joel Tan, better known as Gentle Bones, has been propelled to fame since his debut single, Until We Die, in 2013. A day after the release, the song hit the #1 spot on Singapore’s Top Singles iTunes charts. His follow-up singles, Elusive and Save Me were also well-received. GB launched his self-titled EP August last year, and has already topped the local iTunes Album Chart based on preorders.

Why you should look out for him: This one-man show changed the local indie music scene – catch him at the opening of Christina Perri’s upcoming concert in February.

9. Yeo Tze Yang

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Who: 21-year-old Yeo Tze Yang paints from the things he observes, through the beauty in Singapore life that his eyes capture. He likes to paint ‘self portraits’ of unremarkable and mundane people, things and places part of everyday life. In 2012, Yeo graduated from National Junior College, attaining top scores in Art. During his National Service, Yeo continues painting on a daily basis. In 2013, Yeo held a painting exhibition, titled Young and Unknown, with funds raised on IndieGogo. His works have also been exhibited at LASALLE College of the Arts and Kult Gallery.

Why you should look out for him: His sentimental and emotional paintings struck a chord with us. Singapore’s Picasso, maybe?

10. Chia Kai Chao, Yeo Chern Yu and Oong Bing Hui

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Who: With the advent of hipster café craze, Chia Kai Chao, 24, Yeo Chern Yu, 23, and Oong Bing Hui, 21, started Stateland Café at Bali Lane. The trio met while they were combat engineers in the army, and handle the business all on their own. Chia handles the marketing and business aspects of the café, Yeo is the chef, and Oong is the barista. This cost of the industry-themed café’s furnishing was kept low – Chia’s family has an aluminium business; Yeo’s family does steelworks; Oong’s family manages a developing and construction company. Stateland Café has been featured by Her World Plus as one of the 16 go-to places for waffles.

Why you should look out for them: Cafehopping is always a good idea. Oh, and waffles too.

11. Looi Qin En, Oswald Yeo and Seah Ying Cong

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Who: Looi Qin En, Oswald Yeo, and Seah Ying Cong founded Glints Intern, a local internship portal named as one of the top 50 startups last year. The portal for companies and youths in Asia, offering features like intern subscription and personality matching to make it easier for employers to hire potential interns of the right fit. The firm gained US$10,000 in revenue within the first three months, with more than 800 intern accounts from companies like Line, Goldlion, and Puma. More impressively, the founders are 22-year-old pre-university students on their admission gap year to devote their time solely to the startup. They have been admitted into prestigious US universities Stanford, University of California Berkeley and Wharton Business School.

Why you should look out for them: If you’re out of a job (touch wood!), you know where to look for the next.

12. Mae Ng and Lizanne Teo

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Who: Meet the founders behind Upsurge Productions: Mae Ng and Lizanne Teo – the concert organisers for big hardcore/metalcore bands like Suicide Silence, A Day To Remember (which saw over 10,000 at Fort Canning Park) and more recently, Anberlin. More impressively, the two friends who met in school are only 21, and the idea leading to the birth of Upsurge was brought about by an epiphany in the showers. Apart from running Upsurge, the girls’ schedules are packed with internships and part-time jobs. Ng manages Media and Public Relations and matters involving the artistes and fans, while Teo takes care of the monetary aspects and logistics.

Why you should look out for them: The local music industry definitely needs more people like them.

13. Adam Swandi

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Who: Swandi captained the National Football Association (NFA) Under-15 team to 3rd place in the 2011 edition of the Lion City Cup’s, leading them to victory over Newcastle U-15 and Juventus U-15. His Singapore Under-16 team won Football Association of Singapore (FAS) U-18 domestic league in 2012, and Swandi won the award of the Most Valuable Player. In 2013, he was offered a contract with Spanish club Atletico Madrid, but chose to stay with French Ligue 2 club FC Metz. Swandi first made his international appearance at 17, as a second-half substitute in a friendly match against Myanmar on 4 June 2013. Swandi is now back in Singapore with S-League side Young Lions, while serving National Service.

Why you should look out for him: At a tender age of 19, Swandi is already going places. Having ended his one-and-a-half-year stint with FC Metz, we can’t wait to see what he’ll bring to the table after joining Young Lions.

14. Joseph Schooling

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Who: 20-year-old Joseph Schooling, Singapore’s swimming sensation, first took up swimming as a child as his parents wanted him to learn how to tread water. In the process, Schooling discovered his love for swimming, and started having professional aspirations about being a swimmer at the age of eight or nine. His dreams came true – at the 2011 Southeast Asian Games, he won 2 gold, 1 silver and 1 bronze medals, along with 1 Game Record and 4 Singapore Records, which qualified him under the “A” standard for the 2012 Olympic. Schooling was also the first Singaporean to win a swimming medal at the Commonwealth games, coming in with a silver in the butterfly 100m category. Last year, he won Singapore her first gold medal in the 17th Asia Games Incheon, in the Men’s 100m butterfly event.

Why you should look out for him: Singapore’s next Michael Phelps! With his swimming accolades and glory brought to Singapore, need we say more?

15. Shanti Veronica Pereira

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Who: Shanti Veronica Pereira was cherry-picked by her primary school coach after running 400m and 100m events at her school’s annual sports day, kickstarting her athlete career. She brought home the bronze award in 2012 Asian Junior Championships in the 200m event, and two Golds in the 2013 South East Asian (SEA) Youth Championships. In 2013 Ukraine World Youth Championships, Pereira broke a record, becoming Singapore’s first female to clock 11.89s in a 100m run. Last year, she bagged a bronze for the 100m event of 2014 Asian Junior Athletics Championships and emerged as a semi finalist for 2014 Commonwealth Games.

Why you should look out for her: The 19-year-old is undergoing weight training in preparation for this year’s SEA games. Pereira is expected to be at her peak for the games.

Upsizing local talent

Although Singapore has so many gifted individuals, it’s unfortunate that many had to seek overseas opportunities to find fame. Nonetheless, we’ll be keeping our eyes peeled to see what these young Singaporeans are up to next!


With reference to WikipediaChannel NewsAsia, PrisChew, Wikipedia, Red Sports, The New Paper, TODAYActiveSG, Bloggerati, Pale Division, The Long and Winding Road, Yahoo, Wikipedia, TODAY, Her World Plus, Coconuts,  Culture Push, Yahoo, Bandwagon, Poached Mag