Two movies, an album and a concert, and she is only 21. Ribbon Ooi says her journey in the entertainment industry has not been easy, but she is glad to have persisted.
As a young girl, Ooi used to admire singers performing on stage and secretly wished that she could be the one serenading an adoring audience.
So she started by participating in all sorts of singing competitions and performing at stage shows. But it was a challenging time for the teenager due to family problems and financial difficulties, hence she was concerned being a singer would not be a feasible career path.
Disheartened, Ooi distanced herself from everything related to music and singing for almost a year.
One day, she found herself watching a singing competition in school and realised that she could no longer deny her calling.
“I’ve loved singing since I was a kid. I wanted to be able to move people with my music,” she said.
To break into the music scene, Ooi decided to head to China and Taiwan to carve a name for herself. She entered several singing competitions but it didn’t get her anywhere.
“I’ve dreamed of becoming a singer since young, but then realised that it was not just about singing and music. I found that there were other elements involved in such a career path that would make life difficult,” Ooi said about her music journey overseas.
She came back to Malaysia and her talent didn’t go to waste as she was spotted by filmmaker Namewee, who cast her as (surprise, surprise!) a singer in his movie Kara King (2013). This was followed by another appeareance in last year’s romantic flick Paint My Love.
Local Chinese radio station 988 also gave Ooi a chance to fulfil her dream of performing live on stage. She was invited as a guest artiste at 988’s 20th anniversary bash where she wowed a crowd of 6,000 at the concert held in Genting Highlands in September.
She also realised another childhood dream this year with the release of her debut EP titled It’s My Time. It is truly Ooi’s time to shine with everything coming up roses for her.
1. Tell us about your new album.
The title It’s My Time describes how I feel about finally getting to release my first album. There are six songs in the EP. All of them are of different genres. Since it is my first release, the idea was for me to try all sorts of songs.
2. We heard that you can speak Thai quite fluently and even have a Thai song or two in your repertoire. How did that come to be?
I learnt the language while I was living in Thailand. I was 19 at that time and I spent some time singing with some bands over there.
Although it was for less than a year, I picked up enough Thai to communicate with the locals.
It was an interesting experience and I learnt a lot while living in Thailand. I had to increase my repertoire and learn to sing all sorts of songs that the audience wanted to hear.
3. One of your songs titled Wo Shi Ni De Yan (I Am Your Eyes) tells a sad story in the music video. Can you tell us about this song?
I worked with Kepong Gangster director Teng Bee for that music video.
Briefly, it is about a young singer whose father is blind. It is based on a true story.
To be exact, it is actually my life story. Except in real life, the person who is blind is my mother, not my father.
She just found herself going blind all of a sudden and doctors couldn’t tell us what happened, as tests showed that there was nothing wrong with her eyes.
4. You have dabbled in some acting projects where you got to sing. Tell us about those movie roles.
The first movie I acted in was Kara King. That was a musical comedy with really interesting veteran entertainers like Ng Man Tat and Frankie Kao. Mine was a supporting role. It was a lot of fun as I played a bright and colourful character. And I got to sing some happy and funny songs.
Then last year, I was cast as the female lead in Paint My Love, which was about young people and their dreams. In the movie, I played a young lady who loves to sing and had to leave her hometown to pursue her dreams. It does mirror my life. I really enjoyed it as I got to sing a lot in the movie.
5. Please share your upcoming projects.
I have a mini concert coming up and I am really looking forward to it as I’ll get to sing my own songs. After performing at a big show like 988’s MoveLa Party, I feel especially excited because finally “It’s My Time”!