MR WILSON Ng may have only started acting in his 40s, but it has since become a fulfilling career for this former information technology salesman.
“As an actor, I can experience different roles and visit places I never knew existed. I also get to meet and work with interesting and wonderful people who share similar passions,” says Mr Ng, who turned 52 in September.
The freelance actor has acted in commercials, corporate videos, television dramas, short and feature films on both local and foreign productions.
Mr Ng found acting by chance in 2002. He was selling computers beside film and media studies students at technology fairs, and they asked him to act in their student films.
His first paid assignment came in 2008. He came across a casting call on Facebook for a bit part as an agent in an action film called Steadfast.
“Since I was rather free, I decided to help in that project,” he says matter-of-factly.
When filming wrapped, he realised he wanted to try acting as a profession. He asked his fellow actors how they got jobs and was pointed to industry resource websites like AADB.com and Mandy.com.
Freelance actors who are not under an agency typically have to market themselves. “They are their own bosses,” notes Mr Ng. He actively auditions for roles to take up paying jobs.
He posts his work on social media, advertises himself on industry websites and attends social functions to network with fellow actors and production companies.
Mr Ng believes that actors must proactively prepare for assignments. He does so by doing research online or asking friends for help.
For example, he studied videos of orchestra conductors in order to act as one in a commercial. For roles where he has to speak a foreign language, he learns the words and diction from friends who are natives.
Being an actor is not all glitter and glamour. He recalls a commercial where he had to lie in a wet drain while being pinned down and handcuffed. In another role, he was made to look scruffy as a homeless person.
Such unglamorous roles do not bother him. “Most importantly, my role must tell the story,” he says.
“I work towards being a good actor, and I just want to do good work.”
Constantly looking for ways to improve, he took up acting courses at NYU Tisch School of the Arts Asia located here, the Singapore Media Academy and Haque Centre of Acting & Creativity.
At Tisch, he learnt from veteran acting coach John Wills Martin the different schools of acting such as Stanislavski and Chekhov, Sanford Meisner and Stella Adler.
Doing scene studies, monologues and plenty of other practice sessions with course mates helped honed his acting skills. At Haque, he studied method acting from actor and teacher Kamil Haque.
Mr Ng counts himself lucky. Opportunities have come his way, especially in the past few years.
He realised his dreams to work with directors Royston Tan and Jack Neo, playing a rapping uncle in an Aids awareness campaign and as the company sergeant major in the Ah Boys To Men feature films.
Last year, he fulfilled a wish to appear in a Broadway musical production here. In City Gym The Musical, he played Mr Miyago, spoofing Mr Miyagi of Karate Kid.
This year, he acted in two South Indian feature films.
In Tenaliraman, he played a small supporting role of a Chinese warlord. In Moondram Ullaga Por, slated for release next year, he co-starred as the Chinese colonel in a futuristic war film set in the year 2025, beside upcoming actor Sunil Kumar.
Doing his part for the freelance industry, he is the administrator of Facebook groups Actors Guild of Singapore and Casting Call Singapore.
While Casting Call Singapore lists freelance acting assignments from production companies and student projects, Actors Guild of Singapore aims to improve industry practices and raise the standards of freelance talent here through education and information sharing among fellow actors.
He advises newcomers not to be starry-eyed.
He says: “I would usually ask them: ‘Why do you want to be an actor?’
“If they are looking for fame and fortune, I will usually tell them that fame and fortune don’t come easily and that there is no short cut to it.
“Lots of hard work and sacrifices need to be made, and it may not necessarily lead to fame and fortune.
“But if they are willing to hone their skills and put in time and effort, their work will be recognised.”
For more information, visit https://www.facebook.com/wilson.sgp