Monday, 25 May 2015

{Interview #2} Jeremiah Choy - Creative Director

Jeremiah Choy, 52, is the Creative Director of Sing50, a concert to be held at the National Stadium to commemorate Singapore's 50th Jubilee celebrations. In 2015, he was also creative director for May Day Rally, Singapore Day (Shanghai) and Spotlight Singapore, a platform in cultural diplomacy in Mexico City. He will be directing ChildAid 2015 in December this year. He was an Adjunct Lecture with the Singapore Management University and was the President of the Association of Singapore Actors. He founded the Orangedot Group of Companies comprising Productions, Entertainment, Management and Talents.

This initiative is part of our 101 Paths to Success series of interviews to gain insight into how successful people came to do what they are doing, and enlighten parents that there is a vast array of occupations for our children to discover. Hopefully it might spark an interest in our children and youths to start their journey of discerning their life's path.

Your qualifications

LLB (Hons) NUS, Singapore


Describe your job

I am now a creative director, producer and curator. 

In my younger days, I used to be an actor, dancer, choreographer and writer. Oh, I used to be a lawyer too. 

My present job is to think of ways to help my clients “sell” a message, create an experience, or simply curate a series of happenings.

The greatest pleasure in my job is that there is no real definition of what I do. I can be directing a show in theatre one moment, auditioning for a concert the next, or writing for an exhibition. I can be going around to shop for costumes, meeting like-minded people to brainstorm ideas, be alone to dream of concepts or travel the world to do yet another production. The freedom of creativity is what keeps me going.

Tell us about your career path

When I was in primary school, I had wanted to be a doctor. That was because everyone told me that it would be a good choice. Besides, I have terrible handwriting – the sort of squiggles you see when you consult your doctor (no offence to the doctors out there).

Then came secondary school, where I had dreamed to be a violinist. But that was quickly crushed when my squealing violin playing was declaimed by the people around me.

In Junior College, I had wanted to be a doctor again. But dissecting a guinea pig with four foetuses within her made me realise for the second time, that this is one profession I was not meant to be.

So after my A level results, I decided to be a psychologist or psychiatrist. But there was no such course in NUS, so I was prepared to take up Sociology. However on my way to submit my application, a good friend persuaded me to go to Law School. He said that there were a lot of creative people in Law School. Needless to say, I was persuaded. My inner performance cells needed no convincing. 

So after National Service, I went to Law School and stayed in Kent Ridge Hall. I started dancing, singing and participated in Hall activities that allowed my creative juices to run amok. But I studied hard enough to graduate as a Law student, and eventually became a lawyer. 

Came 1988, the first production that changed my life. That was Beauty World, the musical. My first professional theatre that made me sing, dance and act (even as a chorus). I was smitten by the theatre. 

In the 10 years that followed, I co-existed as a lawyer by day and performer by night. It was exhausting but at the same time exhilarating. I was involved in many ground breaking productions by TheatreWorks and Asia-in-Theatre Research Circus.

Then came 1997, the second production that changed my life again. That was Lear, a six country, multi-disciplinary performance that toured Asia and Europe. I gave up my legal career to be in it. At first I thought, I would try going full time as a performer for 2 years. That 2 years have become 18 years.

Over the years, I have gravitated towards Events and Theatre. 

I am fortunate to be one of those people who can truly claim that I love what I do and do what I love. The best thing is getting paid for that. 

How did you find your passion?

I think the passion is inbuilt in me since young. I have always been interested in performing arts since young. Participating in drama, choirs, etc in my schools. 

Which aspect of your job gives you the most satisfaction?

Meeting and working with like-minded people. Getting inspired by the immense talent around me. Having the opportunity to dream, and to make my dreams come true. That is satisfaction. Guaranteed. 

You must be incredibly busy. How do you avoid being burned out?

I always remember to stop and have my me-time every now and then. Me-time can simply mean having a little quiet moment in the middle of all the hustle and bustle around me, just switching off the phone, computer, and all things electronic and indulge in a little garden-gazing with a cup of coffee in my hands. Or just taking a moment to literally re-connect with the inner-me. 

What does success mean to you?

Success is not about being famous and making money. Success is about being happy and enjoying what you do for a living. 

Are you involved in any charity work?

I have my once a year ChildAid Concert, which raises money for the School Pocket Money Fund and the Business Times Budding Artist Fund. I really enjoy doing this concert where I meet many gifted and talented children. They are being provided a platform where they can contribute back to society through their talents.

But more importantly, it gives me the opportunity to share with them some very important qualities of being a professional artiste. That is, the constant reminder to be “HIP” -  to have Humility and Integrity and to be Professional.

No matter how great a talent the young children have, they must be able to share the stage, onstage and behind the scenes, with the cast and crew. Everyone contributes to the success of a concert. 

What does it take for young people to succeed in the Arts?

First, you must truly love the arts and believe in the power of the arts. You must have something to say. Say what you mean and mean what you say. If you think that being in the arts is about being rich and famous, then you are in for a huge surprise. People in the arts work very hard. Beauty and fame can only take you so far. It is the passion and conviction that will carry you further. 

One advice to parents

You may think your child is talented. But sometimes, it is your projection on your child. Give your child the space to explore his or her own talent. Sometimes, pushing your child too hard will create the burnout sooner. I have seen many talented 4 to 6 year olds burn out by the time they turn 15 or 16. 

If your child is truly talented, he or she will find the right way of expressing it. As parents, you can help to provide the platform. But by pushing your child beyond what is necessary, then the talent is like a flower that is over watered, which will wilt in due course, choked by the over-attention given. 

One advice to teens

It is alright to explore. You are young. You have dreams. You have a lot of time to decide what you want to do. But do not waste the talent given to you. Do not squander it away. Talent alone does not guarantee you the satisfaction of success. It is a lot of hard work.

To be a good creative director, it takes someone... who believes in himself/herself. Never doubt your own dream or vision. It takes a look of hard work to be ahead of the curve. But the satisfaction comes when you are riding the waves.


{Interviews} 101 Paths to Success

#1 - Dr Karen Crasta Scientist Associate Prof at the Lee Kong Chian School of Medicine



~ www.mummyweeblog.com - a blog on parenting 6 kids in Singapore ~


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