Silent por­trayal

Ac­tress Jojo Goh takes on her most chal­leng­ing role yet – a deaf and mute girl – in

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - TV - By KEN­NETH CHAW en­ter­tain­ment@thes­tar.com.my

JoJo Goh is a talker. From the rise and fall of her bold, charis­matic voice to her wild, pas­sion­ate hand ges­tures – as if per­form­ing some kind of hand ac­ro­batic stunt – Goh oozed con­fi­dence dur­ing an ex­clu­sive in­ter­view re­cently.

Nat­u­rally, be­ing a part-time em­cee and tV host as well as an ac­tress, the 30-year-old beauty had quite a lot to say.

“I got to stop talk­ing this time,” Goh said of her role as a deaf and mute girl in Pi­anis­simo, be­fore let­ting out a bois­ter­ous laugh.

“I think I was given the role be­cause in the past, I like to al­ter my lines a lot, and per­haps I’ve been do­ing that too of­ten that they fi­nally de­cided to mute me,” she added jok­ingly.

the prepa­ra­tion that laid ahead was no laugh­ing mat­ter. Goh im­mersed her­self com­pletely into learn­ing sign lan­guage, from en­rolling into an in­ten­sive two-month sign lan­guage course to watch­ing count­less episodes of Us tele­vi­sion se­ries Switched At Birth (which fea­tures mul­ti­ple deaf char­ac­ters).

“Al­though I just picked up the lan­guage, I had to prac­tise over and over again un­til it looked like I’ve been sign­ing for 10 years,” she said. While nail­ing the lan­guage is one thing, mas­ter­ing the emo­tional as­pect of her char­ac­ter is another.

Goh shared that she tried to per­form sim­ple, ev­ery­day tasks like driv­ing and or­der­ing food in a restau­rant with­out her sense of hear­ing, blast­ing her ear­phones with mu­sic.

“that wasn’t such a good idea, it made me dizzy for that en­tire day,” she said light­heart­edly, adding that it was a chal­lenge to com­mu­ni­cate at first but re­flected that she felt “less dis­tur­bances from the en­vi­ron­ment and more fo­cus on the things at hand”.

Ntv7’s Pi­anis­simo re­volves around the life of Ke Min, who as a child suf­fered dis­crim­i­na­tion from her own fam­ily mem­bers for be­ing deaf and mute. she even­tu­ally finds refuge in gang mem­ber Zheng Nan (Huang Qi Ming), but when his dan­ger­ous life­style catches up with him, he mys­te­ri­ously dis­ap­pears.

Ke Min later meets the com­pas­sion­ate Dong Zhe (seah song Fan), who learns of her dif­fi­cul­ties in life and wants to take care of her. Fast for­ward 10 years later: Just as Dong Zhe and Ke Min have grown closer to each other, in walks Zheng Nan.

Goh said she can iden­tify with Ke Min, as she, too, was bul­lied dur­ing her childhood. “I stayed in Kuala Lumpur un­til I was five and then I moved to Alor star, Kedah, where I grew up.

“so know­ing that I was a city kid, the other kids would al­ways tease, ‘what’s so spe­cial about you?’ Just small things like that but it can leave quite an im­pact on your childhood,” she re­vealed. While billed as a ro­mance­ac­tion drama, Goh be­lieves there is more to the 25-episode Man­darin se­ries than sim­ply a who-will-she-choose love tri­an­gle.

she hopes it will ul­ti­mately of­fer view­ers an insight into the lives of those with sen­sory dis­abil­i­ties.

“For ex­am­ple, peo­ple may ask, ‘how come she (Ke Min) has a phone? I thought she can­not talk’. But ac­tu­ally, she can still text or go on Facetime. so we put a lot of ef­fort in mak­ing sure that ev­ery de­tail on the show re­flects what the deaf and/or mute com­mu­nity go through in real life,” the ac­tress said.

“We tend to think of them as peo­ple who have to face a lot of dif­fi­cul­ties in life. But they don’t see them­selves as hand­i­capped, they are just not hear­ing. they are peo­ple who speak a dif­fer­ent lan­guage.”

Goh be­lieves that chal­leng­ing her­self ex­pands her act­ing ca­pa­bil­i­ties.

“It’s not just about do­ing a lot of work or the need to keep ap­pear­ing on tV. that’s not the true mea­sure of suc­cess. the op­por­tu­nity is a chance of a life­time for me to test my bound­aries and get ex­posed to dif­fer­ent cul- tures,” she of­fered.

true enough, Goh’s act­ing chops must be im­prov­ing, as she landed a role in a Hong Kong-China pro­duc­tion helmed by renowned Aus­tralian cin­e­matog­ra­pher Christo­pher Doyle a few months back. How­ever, the ris­ing star has no in­ten­tion of join­ing the many Malaysian ex­ports in Hong Kong, China and tai­wan. Not yet, any­way.

“I want to be sta­tioned lo­cally, but if I earn roles over­seas, and es­pe­cially in award-win­ning pro­duc­tions, hope­fully it will present me to the world out­side.”

Pi­anis­simo airs ev­ery Mon­day to Thurs­day at 9.30pm on Ntv7 (Astro Ch 107 / Hyp­pTV Ch 107).

Prac­tis­ing re­straint: Goh is blessed with the gift of the gab, but she is still and quiet in her lat­est role as a deaf and mute girl in Pi­anis­simo. Com­mit­ted: Jojo Goh un­der­took an in­ten­sive two

month sign lan­guage course to pre­pare for the role in the TV

se­ries.

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