Actress-host Michelle Chia tells us how slowing down and letting work take a back seat has given her plenty to enjoy in life.
"I'm enjoying where I am now"
W hen Michelle Chia’s contract with Mediacorp ended in 2012, she planned to take a break to do the things she’d always wanted, like going through a yoga instructor course. Speaking to her now, I wonder aloud if she did everything on her list.
Her answer, unfortunately, is no. “In the last two years, I’ve realised how much of a workaholic I am. When I stopped working, I had so much free time that I felt lost – I started thinking of projects to do or business ventures to take on. It was difficult not to be restless – I’d been working non-stop for so many years,” she muses.
Still, the bubbly 38-year-old actress and host – who started out as a child star when she was six years old – says her decision to take charge of her own schedule has given her the opportunity to spend quality time with family and friends.
“When I worked irregular hours, I sometimes got to see my loved ones only once a month, or less. Now, I make it a point to meet up with my friends once a week. I also spend more time with my partner.”
Most importantly, says Michelle, she’s glad she can finally take long holidays on a whim. “Previously, I could only manage four-day trips at best. But last July, I made a lastminute decision to visit friends in Germany and France for almost three weeks – it was so liberating!”
What she loves most about travelling is her anonymity. Michelle explains: “My life has always been an open book. I’m used to it, but there have been times when I’d appreciate it if I didn’t always have people asking me about my private life. When I travel out of Singapore, hardly anybody knows who I am. So I’m able to strike up a conversation with others easily.
“Once, I was on a flight to the US, and I met an interesting gentleman who used to work in the military. We ended up having a good, long conversation about life until we touched down. I also met some travellers from Berlin at a restaurant and art gallery opening. We kept in touch, and when they visited Singapore, we met up for dinner. I have plans to visit them in Berlin soon.”
Relishing the fact that she has a flexible schedule, Michelle is happy to be back on television, co-hosting the fifth season of Our Makan Places: Lost and Found with Gurmit Singh. She is also hosting the wacky new game show,
Silence!, with Adrian Pang, where participants have to complete a series of challenges quietly. “What’s good about controlling my own time is that I’m able to pick projects that appeal to me. I consider Our Makan Places: Lost and Found ‘my show’ as I’ve worked on it for every season except one. And when they told me that Adrian was going to be my co-host for Silence!, I jumped on board. I’m enjoying where I am now.” SH