What do you do after you’ve won one of Malaysia’s most prestigious beauty pageants? That was the question Serene Lim faced after being crowned Miss Astro Chinese International in 2016.
“After the pageant, I was a bit lost,” she said. “I had a lot of opportunities, but I didn’t know what I wanted to do. Then, I got a chance to act, and I just went for it!”
Lim is the star of director Chiu Keng Guan’s latest movie, Think Big Big. It revolves around a confident plus-sized girl named Moon, played by Moon Yoong, who works as a mascot at a theme park, but is forced to join a weight-losing competition to pay off a large debt.
In the movie, Lim plays a girl who becomes a social media celebrity, but loses herself and alienates her friends and family in the effort to stay popular and to please everyone.
Known for casting relative newcomers in his movies, Chiu – who has directed box office hits like OlaBola and The Journey – said he had noticed Lim during the pageant.
“Her character (in the film) faces a lot of judgement and criticism from the public. This was what she went through during the pageant as well, and I thought the way she handled it fitted the character,” he said in an interview.
Star2 recently caught up with Lim to find out what her first experience as an actress was like.
1. This is your first ever acting job. Have you always wanted to be an actress?
No, it was just a dream! I never thought I would actually become an actress at first. Winning the pageant opened a lot doors, and I wanted to explore and discover more about myself.
So, when the director held an open interview for his new film, I went for it, and was lucky enough to be chosen.
2. What was the experience like?
It was very challenging. Acting is quite hard, and the trick is to do it so naturally that it doesn’t look like you’re acting.
In the beginning, Chiu arranged a two-week acting class for us newbies, and we learnt a lot from there. Like how to accumulate our emotions and experiences into little boxes in our heads, so when we are on set, it would be easier to bring out those emotions.
3. You may be a newcomer, but you are also Miss Astro Chinese International 2016. Did the fact that you were already relatively popular put more pressure on you to perform well?
At first I did feel a bit of pressure. This is such a big opportunity for me, and I wanted to make the most of it. (Chiu) is such a well-known director too, and I was worried about what would happen if I didn’t get it right.
But my acting teacher said that the more I think about these things, the harder it will be, so I had to banish all those thoughts and just act.
4. What was the biggest lesson you learnt from this movie?
To have the courage to be yourself. Sometimes it’s easy to say that, but it’s not that easy to do. You cannot be affected by what others say about you, and you have to be sure about yourself.
Acting also takes a lot of focus, which I’m not very good at. But after this experience, I think I’ve improved a lot.
5. What’s next for you then?
More acting roles! Through this film, I discovered that I really like acting, so now I want to explore more roles and see how far I can go.
What I love about it is how I get to experience the lives of different people.
It’s like one person living many lives. I have only done one role so far, so it doesn’t matter if it’s a movie or TV, I want to try more … I want to try everything.