While Audrey Luo isn’t exactly ecstatic about always playing mum and grandma, she still takes every role very seriously.
BY JO TAN
Published on 21 July 2015
BY JO TAN
“I’ve resigned myself to fate,” says 32 year-old Audrey Luo, the actress who has made a name for always playing women in their 50s or older. “I used to be harder on myself and wonder, is this a mould I have to break out of? Now, I just think a good role is good, whether old or young. But I still had to tell myself to calm down when I was asked to play Michelle Chong’s mother!”
Indeed, Luo’s grounded gait, mature features and considerable talent were what landed her the role as the scene-stealing matriarch in the Singapore movie Our Sister Mambo, where she plays parent to Chong (who is 38) and three other actresses. Thankfully, her impressive cred stands her in good stead: she has played mother to Sugie Phua (33) in Glass Anatomy, granny to Benjamin Kheng (25) in Ah Boys to Men: The Musical, and mother to Nat Ho (30) in 881: The Musical, for which she won Best Supporting Actress at the Life! Theatre Awards.
Don’t think Luo simply pulls out the same act for each of these roles either. She customises each character, often beyond the call of duty. “I take on roles that challenge me in different ways, and all these women are different. When I played the ageing wayang actress Titoudao, I put myself through the training of a wayang actress. I set myself daily quotas for the number of times I practised a stunt and I felt sick if I didn’t fulfil them. I jogged everyday to get fit enough. For High Class, where I played an immigrant from China, I set myself a number of shows to watch every night with characters speaking English in mainland Chinese accents, before I could go to sleep.
“For Our Sister Mambo, my character Mrs Wong is a Korean-drama addict. So I paid for Korean-language classes out of my own pocket,” she says matter-of-factly. “It makes everything more authentic! In the end, when we had the first read, the entire script had only two basic Korean phrases! My heart sank. But as an actor, it’s always better to expand your bag of tricks and be able to play more characters.”
Indeed, Luo’s collection of character parts is increasingly impressive. In Pangdemonium’s upcoming Chinglish this October, she plays multiple characters, one of them male. Then in November, she plays Empress and wife to Lim Kay Siu’s title role in W!ld Rice pantomime The Emperor’s New Clothes, where cast members are expected to accompany themselves with musical instruments.
“I’m very excited about this new challenge and learning more new things. Though I still want to be cast as a pretty bimbo one day,” Luo laughs. “But in the end, even if I keep playing older women, I’m just happy to constantly get roles that challenge me.”