HCAC Spotlight: Grace Ng

HCAC is home to people from all walks of life, from actors, to doctors to… music genre categorisers? But, there’s always something at HCAC that bring these different people in the pursuit of discovery. Perhaps it’s learning about acting or… maybe it’s something deeper. For Grace Ng, it’s the latter and she keeps coming back for more.

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This HCAC Spotlight, find out more about Grace and what she has discovered during her time with HCAC!

Tell us more about yourself & your background.

I grew up in Singapore, though for some reason, people often assume I’m from elsewhere. (If I had a dollar for each time someone asks me where I’m from, I wouldn’t need a job!) But anyway, I do have a job; I work in a music company where I listen to tons of tracks for hours and sort them out according to genres, moods, languages, etc. Which is at times enjoyable (if the music is enjoyable).

I like learning new things; languishing in boredom causes anxiety. I take classes if the content interests me, such as picking up a new instrument or learning about acting. I love writing; it’s therapeutic. I’d also skydive more often if that didn’t mean burning a hole in my pocket. And I consider these activities my projects: learning more about the performing arts and having fun in the process.

Tell us about your HCAC experience.

I did the 3 Lee Strasberg’s Method Acting classes (Introduction, Intermediate, Improvisation). I also joined One-Act Plays and Meyerhold’s Biomechanics. 

I started acting classes about a year ago, because I had stage fright and a terrible case of perfectionism. Short story: I studied music in university and graduated hating to perform because I believed every note I produced would sound horrible. So I thought, if I can learn to act on stage, I can perform music. Which, in hindsight, isn’t entirely true, but it has helped a great deal with performance anxiety.

When I started, I never thought of acting as a long-term hobby, but it’s been a year, and still I keep on keeping on. I can’t point out a specific reason why I continue with the craft, but I know I enjoy learning about the process: accumulating different points of view, getting into a character’s head, finding out what makes a person unique, experiencing on stage for those few moments the life of someone else.

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Besides acting, Grace is involved with music as a drummer, pianist, violinist and singer.

I knew probably next to nothing about acting about a year ago, and now, I know perhaps 4% of what the craft is about. Not saying the classes haven’t taught me anything, but there’s so much more to discover about what acting really is. If I had to state just one thing about what I’ve learnt – it’s that it’s important for a person to have empathy. As an actor, if you don’t have empathy, how would you know how the characters feel or why they do what they do?

I read once in an interview of one of my favourite actresses: “As an actor, we don’t have to always experience something to play it. It’s empathy that gets you in.” Even off-stage, empathy is something that one should always hold on to, to understand people from different walks of life. And one more: when you aren’t trying to control every aspect of how your art is going to turn out, it gets a lot more fun as well as fulfilling.

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Grace performing the play, The First Fireworks, from the workshop-production, Flipped!.

How much would you say you’ve changed since joining HCAC?

Should I put a number to this? I’d say maybe 27.43%. (Slightly drastic, I know.)

I mentioned briefly how the craft helped with anxiety. It’s also taught me not to fear imperfections, and it’s teaching me how an artist shouldn’t focus on the ego. These points, including one made about empathy, are all applicable to life. I’ve heard many of your artistic problems are often your life problems, and vice-versa. Not fearing mistakes, for example, allows an individual to be less stressed about life, to understand that they can’t and don’t have to be in control of everything, and that it doesn’t matter how “flawed” they may look to others.

 

Would you like to share anything else?

I’ve exhausted my brain juice… I don’t have much to share at this moment. Except that I’m excited for the final season of Orphan Black. Does that count?