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Dawn Yeoh's acting hiatus in early 2010s was a result of contractual dispute with manager, who wanted her to become a singer

Once one of Mediacorp's Seven Princesses, the Singapore actress stepped back from acting for several years because she couldn't terminate the contract.

Local actress Dawn Yeoh opened up about why she took a hiatus from showbiz at the peak of her career. (Photo: Yahoo Southeast Asia)
Local actress Dawn Yeoh opened up about why she took a hiatus from showbiz at the peak of her career. (Photo: Yahoo Southeast Asia)

She was at the peak of her career, and one of Mediacorp’s Seven Princesses, alongside names like Jesseca Liu, Jeanette Aw, and Joanne Peh. However, Singapore actress Dawn Yeoh had to step back from showbiz for a few years when her career was on the rise.

Though many were probably curious, she couldn’t talk about the reasons why back then because “it was quite sensitive”, she told Yahoo Southeast Asia in an interview on Tuesday (27 Feb).

The actress is now making her rounds to promote the local film King of Hawkers, in which she plays the lead role, and opened up about missing out those years of her acting career.

Yeoh, 37, said that the hiatus happened because she was in a contractual dispute with her Japanese manager back then.

“I wanted to terminate the contract, mainly because we sought different directions after me trying out acting in Mediacorp," she said, adding that he wanted her to become a singer, while she wanted to continue acting. “I do see that back then, as much as he was trying, my singing just didn't really take flight. So that kind of also discouraged me quite a bit.”

The actress tried to negotiate with him, and her parents were even involved, but they could not come to a consensus.

She suggested terminating the contract, but he refused, so she had to “hang on for 10 years with him” until the contract expired. That eventually happened when she was 28, since she signed the contract at 18.

Yeoh also clarified that she “couldn’t do anything” during the period of time and “no one could approach me”. Her last role before her hiatus was in 2009, and she only returned to the screens in 2013.

Self-improvement during the hiatus

However, she wasn’t just sitting idly while on her hiatus. Yeoh revealed that she attended courses — such as real estate courses and language courses — and travelled “to enrich my life experience”.

She was prepared that she might not get back into acting, hence the real estate courses.

“I was thinking that maybe that is something that I can fall back on. Always prepping myself for Plan B, in case Plan A doesn’t work.”

However, she eventually found her way back, and even has a second wind in her sails for her acting career.

As for what she might have been doing if she wasn’t an actress, Yeoh pondered for a bit. To be fair, she said she hadn’t thought about it because she is enjoying the acting work now.

“If I'm not an actor, my childhood dream has always been [to become] an architect. But I already missed it, because I don't have the qualifications for it,” she eventually replied with a laugh.

Now, though, she wants to be a social activist. She said, “I would like to work on [causes] about plant-based, meat-free [food]. I think that is at least something that I could relate to more as well. I'm a foodie myself.”

King of Hawkers is now showing in cinemas (except Shaw).

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