THE ROLES OF A LIFE­TIME ‘I

IN HER CA­REER AS AN AC­TRESS, NAMTHIP ‘BEE’ JON­GRACHATAW­I­BOON HAS PRETTY MUCH SEEN AND DONE IT ALL

Bangkok Post - - CON­TENTS - Story by Me­lalin Ma­havong­trakul

think I’d like to bring a cas­sette tape back,” a tall fig­ure next to me said as we were dis­cussing what we would like to bring back from 1990s.

“It’s clas­sic,” con­tin­ued Namthip “Bee” Jon­grachataw­i­boon, 34, as she was sit­ting on a couch in her gor­geous dress. Her feet were bare, her high heels tossed aside. And she was a pic­ture of both top-model grace and laid-back com­fort — a con­trast to what we’ve come to know over the years from her feisty on­screen por­trayal in lakorn, and more re­cently from her role as aspiring model-men­tor on The Face Thai­land.

In her mind, Namthip was prob­a­bly think­ing back to the good old days when she re­leased her first al­bum in 2000 — on cas­sette, nat­u­rally. I told her I’d lis­tened to her songs back in pri­mary school and she gave a light chuckle.

“I like ask­ing my young fans whether they have my tape. And they will ask, ‘What’s a tape?’,” she said. “We live in a to­tally dif­fer­ent era.”

Our sud­den mo­ment of rem­i­nis­cence sprouted from dis­cussing Namthip’s lat­est pro­ject Puen... Tee Ra Luek ( The Prom­ise), a drama-horror mark­ing the tele­vi­sion siren’s first fea­ture film af­ter al­most two decades in show­biz. The GDH 559 film — di­rected by Lad­da­land’s Sophon Sak­daphisit — tells the story of two teenage friends, Ib and Boom, who vow to com­mit sui­cide to­gether af­ter their fam­i­lies fall into bank­ruptcy dur­ing the 1997 fi­nan­cial cri­sis.

In the end, how­ever, Ib dies and Boom sur­vives. Now an adult, Boom (Namthip) brings her daugh­ter Bell (Apichaya “Linly” Thongkam, 15, Namthip’s team mem­ber from The Face

Thai­land Sea­son 2) back to the place where she and her friend planned to take their own lives, start­ing a chain of para­nor­mal oc­cur­rences that threaten both mother and daugh­ter.

Shift­ing from small to sil­ver screen can be quite a challenge and Namthip said she ba­si­cally learned the craft of act­ing all over again.

“It’s a new art form for me. In lakorn, you can go over the top with act­ing. Be melo­dra­matic all you want. In films, how­ever, it’s got to be more re­al­is­tic — both in di­a­logue and act­ing.

“I’ve been in show­biz for­ever,” she con­tin­ued. “I thought I knew ev­ery­thing there is to know. With this film, I re­alised there was an­other way. I got to jump out of the box so to speak. And I know now that the craft of act­ing just never stops. You don’t stop learn­ing.”

Part of The Prom­ise is set in late 1990s, the age of pager, sticker booth, and the time Namthip her­self first came onto the en­ter­tain­ment in­dus­try as a teen model. As she worked on this pro­ject, the ac­tress got a chance to look back to her life in 1997.

“I had no rec­ol­lec­tion what­so­ever that our econ­omy was spi­ralling down­hill,” she said. “I was 15 at that time. Think­ing back now, and com­par­ing it to my char­ac­ter Boom, it’s quite re­lat­able as she also didn’t know what was go­ing on back then. She didn’t care what went on around her. She was feel­ing down, think­ing about tak­ing her own life.”

As a teenager, Namthip was study­ing and work­ing at the same time. Be­cause of that, she said she wasn’t so close to friends of the same age.

“But I ac­quired an­other so­ci­ety al­to­gether who gave me great ad­vice. It changed my life quite a lot, be­ing in show­biz that young. I was learn­ing how to work, to be re­spon­si­ble, to use money wisely.

“Be­ing in show­biz ba­si­cally taught me how to live,” she re­vealed.

By her own rec­ol­lec­tion, show­biz was quite a dif­fer­ent world to live in when she was younger.

“Be­fore, there weren’t so many peo­ple,” re­called Namthip. “It was a small cir­cle. What hap­pened in show­biz ac­tu­ally stayed in show­biz. But now, with so­cial net­work tak­ing over, any­thing big or small, true or false, just spreads like wild­fire.”

The on­set of so­cial me­dia also changed the way of work­ing within the in­dus­try, opined the ac­tress. In the past, with no on­line plat­form to make their name known, ev­ery­one fought for their chance with their own wits and skills. No one re­ally gets fa­mous out of the blue, as can be seen hap­pen­ing to­day.

“It went very step-by-step for my gen­er­a­tion,” she com­mented. “Now, though, it’s a leap. A jump — like you don’t have to fight much to get in.”

But re­gard­less of how peo­ple en­ter the scene, Namthip thinks what’s even more dif­fi­cult to ac­com­plish is how to stay. For her, it takes love, de­ter­mi­na­tion and grate­ful­ness — and that’s the most im­por­tant les­son she’s learned af­ter two decades.

“In any­thing you do, you have to recog­nise the value of the op­por­tu­nity you’ve re­ceived and make the best out of it. That’s how you can be de­serv­ing of peo­ple’s faith and trust in choos­ing you to be here.”

It’s not too far off to call it Namthip’s recipe for suc­cess. She says she looked up to fig­ures like Sin­jai “Nok” Pleng­panich and her fel­low Face men­tor Meti­nee “Lukkade” King­pay­ome as in­spi­ra­tions in work and life.

Af­ter achiev­ing top po­si­tions in show­biz — from a model to singer then ac­tress — and even lend­ing her voice as the dragon queen Daen­erys Tar­garyen for the Thai dubbed ver­sion of Game

Of Thrones Sea­son 7, Namthip ad­mit­ted there is lit­tle she hasn’t done in the in­dus­try. Still, tele­vi­sion is very much her roots, and she re­vealed she has a new lakorn com­ing in Oc­to­ber.

A ver­sa­tile ac­tress, Namthip has taken on roles from in­no­cents in her early days, to pos­ses­sive and jeal­ous women, to moth­ers, to, re­cently, a grand­mother with the help of spe­cial ef­fects and make-up. “As an ac­tress, any­thing goes. I can do it,” she said.

But that doesn’t mean she would get on board with ev­ery­thing that’s sent her way. Part of her work is choos­ing what pro­ject to take on, and she said her cri­te­ria is mainly based on per­sonal plea­sure and gut feel­ing.

“I only go for things I can be happy with,” said the ac­tress, adding that she once re­signed as a TV show host, since she felt it wasn’t right for her.

Then she de­liv­ered a parting mes­sage: “If you don’t feel it’s right for you, then don’t stay. But once you’ve de­cided to stay, then give it your all and your best.”

That’s how you make it in show­biz.

I’ve been in show­biz for­ever. I thought I knew ev­ery­thing there is to know. With this film, I re­alised there was an­other way

Namthip Jon­grachataw­i­boon.

Above Namthip in The Prom­ise.

Left Namthip at TheProm­ise pre­miere, held ear­lier this week at SF World Cin­ema, Cen­tralWorld.

RightFrom left, Apichaya Thongkam, di­rec­tor Sophon Sak­daphisit and Namthip Jon­grachataw­i­boon.

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