Cheryl Koh

Asian invasion

Article from the Sun daily by Jason Lim (posted on 2 October 2018)

LITTLE did Cheryl Koh know what the future had in store for her after leaving Malaysia for the US to complete her tertiary education in Los Angeles, a journey which would land her in the Hollywood 'hall of fame'.

One day, the 22-year-old singer and songwriter from Shah Alam heard about a worldwide casting call put out by Warner Bros. and director Jon M. Chu for a chance to act in the movie Crazy Rich Asians.

Koh, better known as Cheryl K, had nothing to lose. She did not think the organisers would notice her among the thousands of audition tapes from all over the world, yet she tried her luck anyway.

She read out the lines of a sample script provided to all respective hopefuls, and performed Mamma Knows Best by Jessie J at the end of her audition tape. That performance made an impression, and the rest is history.

Koh was eventually given the opportunity to sing the track Money (That’s What I Want) for the opening and ending credit scenes, in both English and Mandarin verses.

She recalled: “When you hear your own voice on the big screen and see your name appear twice when the credits roll... that’s when you know you’re crazy dreaming!”

What was the most memorable experience during the entire process?

"I think it was when I first got the call from Warner Bros. telling me that I booked the job. I will never forget my very first words in response to that was: “Are you going to make me cry?”

"I was jumping and screaming all over my room followed by multiple spam calls to my mom who was probably still sleeping at the time because of the time difference between Los Angeles and Malaysia."

Did you feel a particular connection with the song Money?

"I was familiar with this classic Motown Money song before and knowing that it’s been popularly covered by The Beatles and Bruno Mars, I am so thankful to be able to put my own spin on it for the world to hear, even with the inclusion of some Mandarin lyrics.

I am ethnically Chinese and I feel represented by not just the movie but the soundtrack of this film. When I first heard that this was the song Warner Bros. wanted me to sing, I knew it was a perfect fit for me because I loved it and thought it completely suited my vocal capabilities.

Why do you think ‘Crazy Rich Asians’ resonates so deeply within the Asian community and possibly even beyond its audiences?

"It’s the first movie to feature an all Asian cast in 25-years since Joy Luck Club. This makes Hollywood movies refreshing and opens a lot more doors for Asians to be in the spotlight - no longer be stereotyped or type-casted.

"It’s also the most successful rom-com movie in 9 years, topping the U.S. Box Office for at least three weeks straight now at No. 1.

"I strongly believe that this movie does not just resonate with Asians feeling represented but beyond that. This story is about love, sacrifice, and the challenge that comes with family, something a lot of people can relate to and identify with, regardless of whether we share the same skin colour or not."

Do you think it’s hard to get recognized when the music industry at large is rather saturated right now?

"Yes, getting recognized is definitely challenging because there are so many talented people all over the world working incredibly hard to improve their craft and be noticed.

"While there is also an increasing opportunity in today’s digital media age to showcase one’s talent, there are videos and songs being uploaded every second.

"However, I always believe that with the right determination and humbleness, any artist is on their own journey to success. Someone once told me: 'It doesn’t just take talent to make it in this industry, you must also be at the right place, with the right person, at the right time'.

"I believe we’ve got our own timing and if it’s meant for us, it will come."

What’s the next best thing you could be doing besides making music?

"I want to be an entrepreneur. This is also why I majored in business with an emphasis in entrepreneurship. I want to provide solutions to a problem, possibly related to the music or entertainment industry since my passion will always be somewhat tied into that.

"My end goal is to do something that can inspire and help others – to make a difference in the world.

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