She’s a mother of three, a daughter, an actress, a women’s rights activist and a wife. Yes, it seems Zoe Tay does it all. Nearly three decades since she walked away with the 1988 Star Search winner’s trophy, the 47-year-old is still regarded as the Queen of Caldecott Hill, Singapore’s enduring “Ah Jie”.
Some of her peers have either left the industry or are fading into obscurity, but Tay is on her second wind. She’s currently filming the blockbuster drama The Dream Makers 2, the sequel to one of the most-watched TV series of 2013, where she reprises her role as TV station executive Zhou Wei Yun. It debuts on 3 December on Channel 8.
Involved in one or two productions per year, Zoe devotes the rest of her time to her family and personal pursuits. One of these is charity work; following her collaboration with Association of Women for Action and Research (Aware) to raise awareness about its Sexual Assault Care Centre (SACC), she was recently in eastern Cambodia’s Kampong Cham province to visit Somaly House, a home for sexually abused girls and victims of human trafficking.
Says Zoe, “I promised the girls I will be back to see them, and when I do, I want to see what more can be done for them. I haven’t come up with a plan yet, but hopefully, we can help them. I also want to get more involved and do more with the social groups here.”
As an artiste who has evolved almost alongside this country, Tay looks back at her achievements not with pride, but wonder. She explains, “I still can’t believe I’ve achieved all that I have, the honour and recognition. Entering the industry gave me a platform and a chance to express myself.
“When people ask me for advice, I tell them: Don’t be afraid to dream. In fact, dream bigger. I was not a dreamer, but I made it. And if I can make it, many others can make it, too — and do even better than I did. Those who have ambition need to follow their heart and try their best.”
What, to her, is power? Tay mulls it over before saying, “Positivity and perseverance are powerful. With both, anything can happen.”