TCP's 16th Anniversary Birthday, feat. Brian Ng, Joel Choo, Benzo
“Don’t just count your years, make your years count.” -George Meredith
In this cover story, we showcase three male celebrities who are also known as the pillars of The Changing Point (TCP) Artistes (a Singapore-based artiste management company). The three dashing young men, namely Brian Ng, Joel Choo and Benzo have contributed in more ways than one to TCP’s growth. In this feature, we ask the three leading men about the mainstream and social media scenes in Singapore, as well as gain interesting and exclusive insights into their growth in the local entertainment industry.
Photo by: Jeff Chang Photography
All artistes wearing Qmenswear
Brian Ng. TCP's first-signed artiste, actor, singer and husband. We actually know Brian as a rather low-profile actor who has been partaking in high-profile shows such as Third Rail, KIN, 攻星计 and many more. But is there more to Brian than just being the 'effective bilingual actor/singer'? Here, we dig in-depth.
Photo by: Jeff Chang Photography
Brian wearing Kenzo
Hey Brian! We are so happy to get you on our first cover story! What are you busy with right now?
Hello! I’m very happy to be featured as well. I’m currently busy preparing for a new Channel 8 drama that will begin in December.
We know that you were TCP's first-signed artiste, but we actually don't know when you joined and how you were discovered.
I started acting as a child actor when I was 11 (We are R.E.M, Heartlanders etc). I first joined TCP when I was 15, so that was many years ago. Back then, TCP was still an interest group formed by the current boss, Sean, and a couple of like-minded friends who enjoyed acting and filmmaking. We would gather during the weekends to shoot short videos and little series to put on YouTube. Long story short, it eventually became a company and here we are today! It was through TCP that I started my career as a full-time actor after I graduated from university.
You play the perverted and nasty lawyer Ray Huang in Third Rail. Is Third Rail your most defining role to date?
I don’t know if it’s the most defining role, but I would say it is one of the most memorable ones. I think I have different roles that have defined different stages of my career. When I first started out full-time, I was in a Channel 8 TV series called 起飞 (Crescendo) acting as young Christopher Lee. I think that was quite defining because for many years and even till this day people remember me as young Christopher Lee in that drama. In the past three years, I was on Kin as Dr Shen, and because it was a long-form drama, quite a number of people watched Kin, so I think many people remember me as Dr Shen. For the new role in Third Rail which just came out, I would like to think that it would be quite defining as well because I think it is one of the most interesting and different roles as it is my first time acting as an antagonist.
After acting for some time, what are the roles you’ll like to try?
I think my answer to this question has been the same for many years now. I would love to have a part in an action movie, in a war movie even. Something along the lines of Saving Private Ryan or Battle Los Angeles - dressed up in army gear, and in the trenches with brothers in arms. I think that would be interesting for me.
We know that you are also a great singer, are you looking to focus more on music in the future?
Music for me has always been a pastime, it’s not something I have thought of pursuing professionally as a career. But I have released a single before with TCP, it’s out on Spotify (check it out here!). If given the opportunity, for sure that's something I would love to explore in the future.
We see you being more experimental with fashion lately, did anything inspire this change?
I think what inspired the change was perhaps after three years as Dr Shen in a suit and tie, I was ready for something more exciting sartorially. On a more serious note, I think it was in recent times after coming into contact with and making friends with stylists like Josiah and Karin who are very encouraging, and in turn I’m encouraged to explore fashion a little more. I’m very thankful for their help.
Have you always wanted to be an actor? What was your ambition as a child?
I wouldn’t say that it was an ambition of mine. I started acting when I was 11, my parents enrolled me in an acting school. I think not with hopes of me being a star but just for me to break out of my shell. Through that, I was introduced to the acting industry and I just started from there.
I do enjoy it very much, I love exploring different characters and being a part of a storytelling journey. I’m just blessed that I’m able to do what I enjoy and I recognise that not many people are able to even if they want to. I’m just counting my blessings every day I’m in this industry and every time people give me an opportunity I’m just so thankful.
What’s next for you in both acting and music?
In acting, I’ll be doing a Mediacorp Channel 8 drama, that’s on my horizon. Other than that I can’t say for sure. I think the thing about the acting industry is that it's not very stable, there are no guarantees so I'm always just waiting for the next project. For music, no plans as yet. But of course, if there are any updates on both acting and music I will let you guys know!
Is it tough for an actor to dabble in social media?
I think it depends on the individual. Just because you’re an actor it doesn't mean that you’re definitely an extrovert or that you're definitely somebody that enjoys sharing every part of your life as some people would imagine actors to be. So I think for myself I would say I am more of an introverted and private person. It takes some effort for me to explore and grow. For sure being an actor does help in terms of content because I live a life that is slightly different from others so naturally, that is content.
How has social media helped your acting career?
I think it has provided a platform for connection - a direct connection with fans and audiences, which perhaps the previous generation did not have access to. I guess social media has allowed people to know me more than just as a public figure. Maybe through building that connection and relationship they are more inclined to support me. I also get to hear encouragement directly from them which is always nice. In terms of financial sense, social media does provide an extra source of income for artistes in Singapore where the acting industry is quite small and acting projects do not come by that often.
Lastly, can you tell us your fondest memory here after being with TCP for such a long time?
I think my fondest memory would definitely have to be the TCP trips. So far there have been a couple of small trips to Bangkok and recently this year we went to Vietnam with almost all of us. That's nice because I think how TCP is maybe different from other management companies, as far as I know, is that we are all really good friends and we get along very well. So it's quite nice to not just be colleagues but also to be good friends, and to be family even. We had some fun memories over dinner, supper and drinks in Vietnam and Bangkok. The moments with these very special people are what I treasure very much.
Many know Joel Choo as the son of veteran star Choo Houren. However, in recent times, Joel has made his own mark by stepping up his game on social media. We are fans of his many Instagram reels and TikTok videos that have amassed over 480,000 likes thus far! What is Joel's next plan? To build on his acting career or to focus more on his social media?
Photo by: Jeff Chang Photography
Joel wearing Louis Vuitton
Hello Joel! We are glad to have you here with us. What have you been up to recently?
I've been busy filming the drama series Ti Tou Dao 2, and have been working on that for the past two months. Other than that, I've been busy working on my social media, Instagram and TikTok. Working with different brands and doing a lot of content creation.
Is it a pro or con to have a famous father?
I would definitely say it has more pros than cons, though I am often labelled as Choo Hou Ren's son, I get more public recognition, and that helps with my career.
We noticed many of your campaigns are with your father, what is it like working with him?
My dad is very easygoing and easy to work with. Though he is relatively new to social media, he is still very creative and has a lot of ideas. When I have a creative block, he will chime in to help with the creative process.
What was your career choice when you were young?
I wanted to be a musician, singer-songwriter, and music composer. I studied music at a polytechnic, I wanted to do something related to music. I enjoyed singing, writing songs and performing so naturally, I wanted to be a singer-songwriter. At the same time, compose music for TV series or films.
What inspired you to enter the media industry?
I was always exposed to the media growing up, with my dad being an actor and also because of my brother who is a director. I was spotted by a family friend/director and he asked my dad if I wanted to audition and try acting. At that point, I did not have any university plans so I decided to give it a try. My first show was Faculty and after that MediaCorp signed me and that was how I got into this industry. I had to navigate around, I had no prior acting training and no social media presence. Fast forward to today, I have found my identity but I still have much to learn.
We love your late-night supper aesthetics on TikTok! What inspired the series and can we expect more similar content?
I'm not one who likes to do the typical YouTube vlogging style, so I tried this approach. Basically, I want to convey a vibe. I like to shoot, edit and even search for music to fit the vibe. I will be doing more of such content not just on late-night suppers but also in other areas, maybe along the lines of "a day in my life as an actor".
Are you looking to focus more on acting or social media in the near future?
I want to continue doing both acting and social media. I still love acting and I want to continue honing my craft and improving myself. At the same time, social media is a fun outlet where I can express myself and entertain people. I also want to explore more fashion-related content like fashion shoots for magazines or social media content.
We also know that you sing and play the guitar in a band, are you looking to further your career in music?
I think music for now will take a back seat. It's more of a hobby. The band is very busy with their full-time jobs. Perhaps in the near future, we will release original music.
Why did you choose to join TCP?
Sean is easy to talk to, easy to work with, transparent and straightforward. TCP is also very strong in social media which is what I enjoy doing.
For TCP’s 16th anniversary birthday, can you share with us your favourite memory in TCP?
My fondest memory is when I had a meeting with Sean and I asked if he would like to sign me. At that time I was very lost and uncertain about my career but he gave me a lot of assurance and advice. After our first meeting even prior to signing me, he told me his plan for me. I had full confidence in him. I dare say, I wouldn't have left MediaCorp if not for TCP and Sean.
Everyone loves Benzo. The popular YouTuber from Wah!Banana turned heads when he became TCP's first-signed YouTuber. Since then, we have seen Benzo take on more television projects such as Justice Boo, Wheels and many more. Is Benzo tired of the social media game and yearning to do a full crossover to mainstream media?
Photo by: Jeff Chang Photography
Benzo wearing Moschino
Hi Benzo! It’s TCP’s 16th anniversary birthday! Is there anything you would like to say to TCP?
First of all, I just wanna say I LOVE YOU TCP! I think I've said many thank you’s these past three years because I really am grateful to everyone in the company. Before I joined the company, I was just lost and always worrying about tomorrow. After joining the company, I've learned so much not only from Sean himself but also from my fellow brothers and sisters. I'm super grateful, blessed and lucky to be part of something so special and great, so once again I would like to say a big THANK YOU & HAPPY BLESSED BIRTHDAY TCP!!
We are curious how your stage name Benzo came about?
When I started dancing, there were many Bens around. So I had to stand out and one day, I came across a video of a Ferrari. It was at that point I found out that the CEO of Ferrari is called Enzo. So I simply just added a B in front of Enzo and gave myself the name - Benzo.
We know you’ve been in the dance and YouTube scene for a long time, what is it like to transition to acting?
It is tough. People will always perceive me as a funny guy who can only do comedy. I have no acting background or lessons before and thus it makes it really difficult to get roles. When I started transitioning to acting, I was scared because I didn't know anything about the acting world. All I knew was the call sheet (haha). I had to learn how different directors work, and how to work well with veterans. I hope to be a good actor and an even better content creator someday.
Do you think social media helped in getting you signed with an artiste management agency?
I would say yes. It's a plus point as it is easier for the company to sell you with a level of recognition. But there are times when the company looks at the potential of talents instead. At the end of the day, I think the most important thing about getting signed is your values. You may be a super popular star but if your values are not in sync with the company, it can be tough.
We saw many of your hilarious campaigns. Can you share more with us about your favourite campaign? Or your creative thought process when coming up with ideas?
It has to be the campaign I did with Yidali Jie (Michelle Tay). The reason is because I picked up most of the comedy essence from watching her and the 搞笑行动 gang. To be able to work with her is an honour for me.
Concept-wise, it's free play. I love to imagine the wackiest or most relatable stuff for my content, and ideate from there. The most challenging part of every content is the first five seconds. Just five seconds is all it takes for a viewer to decide if he/she stays on to watch.
What made you decide to take up the challenge of becoming an actor, has it been something you always wanted to try?
Yes, ever since I was young, I was very expressive. I love to entertain my friends and make a fool of myself. I remembered when my teacher asked me what I aspire to be, and my answer was to be an actor/star (hahaha).
What are some difficulties content creators face when trying to crossover to acting?
I guess it is how people view you. Imagine posting comedy stuff for a long period of time and then suddenly transiting to serious stuff. People will naturally doubt your capabilities. So these days, I would add acting elements in my content to show what I can really do.
As an actor, dancer and content creator how did you juggle so many roles?
To be honest, I had a hard time juggling many roles at first. I think I eventually had to let go to focus on my priorities. I think I have pretty much-achieved everything I wanted as a dancer and I would dance less and focus on my acting and content creation.
Can you share with us what are some of your upcoming plans and what you have envisioned for your career in the future?
I'm really excited for what's to come, I'm working with some amazing talents to produce a film of our own. For now, I can't reveal anything yet. In the near future, I want to represent TCP to the best of my capabilities and hopefully go international!
To end off, tell us your best moment in TCP.
It has to be the day Sean said yes to me. It feels like I proposed to him and he said yes! The reason is clear - I came from the digital world and I’ve always had passion for acting; but I didn’t have the connections.
I was previously often rejected by casting directors and it was rather demoralising. It was just constant rejection and I had no idea what I was not doing right; thus a good friend of mine introduced TCP to me and I mustered my courage to email Sean. He kindly met me for coffee and the rest is history.
The interesting thing was that Sean signed Shawn Thia a few weeks before me and wasn’t looking to sign anyone new; but I guess I convinced him unknowingly during our meet-up. He gave me 20 questions to answer and those were really tough questions on whether I was willing to eat the humble pie. I guess I answered rather well, and Sean called me for a second meeting, where he said YES to me!
Photos by Jeff Chang Photography
Hair (Brian) Hairloom
Hair (Joel) Passion Hair Salon
Hair (Benzo) Featherz Salon
Makeup (Brian) Shino
Makeup (Joel) Shino
Makeup (Benzo) Shino
First Pic: All artistes wearing qmenswear
Individual (Brian) Kenzo
Individual (Joel) Louis Vuitton
Individual (Benzo) Moschino
All artistes styled by Karin Tan