Celest Chong says she left S'pore as she 'needed a way to survive', was once offered career 'shortcut'

The New Paper
Sept 11, 2023

After living in Canada for 13 years, local singer-actress Celest Chong returned home for good in April.

The reasons for her leaving Singapore in 2010 were never truly revealed, save for the fact that she married a Canadian – the marriage ended in 2021 – and that her contract with Mediacorp at the time had run its course.

Speaking to Shin Min Daily News recently, the 43-year-old shared some rather shocking truths about what drove her to relocate.

"When my contract (with Mediacorp) ended, it was not renewed, and I did not receive an explanation. I left not because I wanted to give up on everything in Singapore, but I needed to find a way to survive,” she said.

She shared that she was once asked: "Do you want a shortcut? What are you willing to sacrifice (for your career)?"

She duly rejected the offer, of course, and said: "I still sleep soundly with my decision today."

"Singapore is forever my hometown, the place where I grew up, so my heart has always been here."

Back home and ready to begin a new chapter, Chong is currently in discussions over various acting and hosting opportunities. 

“There is no bad script. More importantly, I care about whether my performance is up to standard."

Chong made her acting debut in local director Eric Khoo's Stories About Love in 2000, before starring in local dramas like You Light Up My Life (2001), Together Whenever (2003), and Zero (2004).

While abroad, she expanded her repertoire rather impressively, appearing in the DC series Titans (2018) and Netflix series The Umbrella Academy (2019). In November 2021, she bagged the best actress award at The Great Canadian Sci Fi Film Fest for her role in the short fantasy film Moore's Void.

But her journey hasn’t been without struggle. 

Once, during a modelling gig, she had to be in the water for 18 hours – first the swimming pool then the sea – and could only return to shore when the crew gave her permission. As the water was shallow, her body suffered abrasions against underwater rocks.

"When I got up, my arms and legs were full of injuries," she said.

Chong also hurt her spine and neck one time during the filming of a charity show – and was asked to remain quiet about it. "I even paid for my own medical bills."

“Even when I cried, I refused to let my tears affect the filming… There are many challenges in life, and failures just make us stronger.”

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