“I’m a Singaporean creative who would go the distance for good food, gin, and adventures. I’ve recently ditched my career to make more time for life and completely no regrets about it. Having to work with people who lack vision or purpose ranks high up on my list of career downs and challenges – and in the course of my 14 years on radio and television, I’ve crossed paths with several, unfortunately. As for the good stuff, I don’t have a habit of keeping score.
Although I’m proud to say I’ve reached a point in my career where people hire me for who I am instead of trying to make me fit into their mould. The first client that hired me for who I am, was Maybelline. This was a long time ago, when I was at 987FM. And you know Maybelline is such a pretty brand, for young people. I was there to represent women in their 30’s. So I asked, ‘do you need me to cover my tattoos?’ That was a question I was so used to asking. They were like, no. We want you on the campaign because we want you for you. I was like oh my God! And you have no idea how happy I was, when that happened. I think people are starting to get me. Following that, in the years to come people were like, ‘Rozz, we’re just going to give you a script, but please change this to your own words’. Clients started giving me complete creative freedom to do the campaign my way. They would have a campaign brief but they would be like – just do you. And I’m like, okay. So that’s nice.
We were poor growing up, but thanks to our awesome late mom, we were never needy and simply made do all the time. I guess being poor taught me to be really resourceful, because having so little forces you to be creative with what you’ve got. For example, when we’re preparing meals I would just use whatever’s left in the fridge or available in the cupboard. And once I made an entire meal with just sardines. But I stole an onion from the provision shop to flavour the sardines! And then that same onion went into the omelette I made to accompany the meal. So that will go with rice and soy sauce. But I have to apologize and say sorry for stealing that one onion, as I don’t want to advocate stealing as a form of creativity.
I’ve partly got my dad to thank for my fearlessness in the face of authority. He was a major in the army and a commander of an army camp in Brunei. As a young child, he would encourage me to talk to high-ranking army officers as if they were my equal. I guess that confidence stuck. And I inherited my straight-talking, no-nonsense attitude from my mom. Like her, I’d like people to always know where they stand with me. I wish for people to be straight with me too – cuts out bullshit and saves time.
The most empowering thing I do, is to be able to travel as and when I feel like, with no debt to worry about, no family I need to support, no marriage or children to hold me back, and have absolutely no desire for material wants. To be totally mobile and healthy… That freedom is power to me.
One important thing I’ve learnt over the years – everyone is nice until you get to know them. I think it takes a long time to realize this. As you get older, you become more aware of how the world works. I’ve seen in this in my friends, some whom I’ve known for over 10 years, I feel like I’m still getting to know them. The difference between friendships and the people you’re not close to, is sometimes you’re willing to overlook the flaws in your friends. But when it comes to acquaintances or people you work with – it’s not as forgiving. I’m convinced right now, at age 38, that if you think you know someone, just give it a bit more time. You’ll find out so much more, and then you’ll reach a point where you need to ask yourself, do I still want this person in my life? Hopefully, the answer is yes.
Something most people don’t know about me… Uni has become my favourite Japanese delicacy. Years ago, when I had the privilege of having dinner at the 3 Michelin-starred Sukiyabashi Jiro (of Jiro Dreams of Sushi fame) in Tokyo, I said I didn’t want Uni because I had a bad experience at shitty Sushi Tei, and I thought all Uni tasted bad. Well, I still regret saying no to Jiro till this very day.
My diet’s pretty much steered by my cravings. But I’m a big fan of leafy greens, tofu, and double-boiled soups – I can eat those every day. I live alone so it’s expensive to cook for one. I only cook when I know I am able to have at least three consecutive meals at home – that way I can buy ingredients in bulk and for cheap. Exercise has never been a thing for me, although I do enjoy Pilates… I just need to get around to doing it!
I don’t believe in pill-popping and get all my dietary supplements from the food I eat. I used to go to the doctor all the time, for simple things, like flu or a cough, a fever… And they would give me a whole bunch of pills, I would never be good at taking them because I’m so lazy, especially with antibiotics. I would take them halfway, and would stop once I’ve recovered. Someone told me how they are really bad for you, so I started to read up on it and I got shocked. I discovered how they are antibodies that are introduced into your body in the hope that your body will be shocked into fighting them. I’m like, fuck this shit – I’m not taking this ever again. I think it’s been at least five years since I stopped taking antibiotics. When that stopped, the Panadol popping stopped, I don’t take it unless I absolutely need it. The thing I really rely on occasionally is antihistamines, because I’ve got sinuses and allergies. I believe in natural healing – the body repairs itself when we sleep, and also when you drink water. This is something I’m forcing myself to do, because I enjoy flavoured drinks. The other thing I believe in very strongly would be pressure points. Recently my friend Tracy (Phillips) was raving about the benefits of Echinacea. So she was feeling the onslaught of a fever, sore throat, lack of appetite and everything basically! And then she took some Echinacea and swore she became fine the next day!
I have combination skin and cleanse my face with Shu Uemura Anti/Oxi+ Pollutant & Dullness Clarifying Cleansing Oil morning and night. And twice a week I would use the Aesop Purifying Facial Exfoliant Paste. I use Lancôme Advanced Genefique Serum in the day and Lancôme Advanced Genefique Sensitive Dual Concentrate at night before moisturizer. For day moisture I like the Allies of Skin 1A™ All-Day Mask and the 1A™ Overnight Mask for night moisture. Once a week, I would apply the Allies of Skin Bright Future Overnight Facial. I can’t survive without my lip balm and swear by Lucas Papaw Ointment which also doubles up as an ointment for dry skin and wounds.
When it comes to makeup, I used to be a Shu Uemura girl because my mom passed me my first makeup set and it was from Shu Uemura. And then Nars or M.A.C because the artistry team really drew me in. A lot of the products that I’m now loyal to have been discovered through work. And honestly Chanel used to be a brand that’s so out of my league. I would never have started using Chanel if I didn’t go on a press trip with the brand where I met Lucia Pica. She’s such an inspiring success story. A regular makeup artist, plucked from obscurity and made Director of Chanel Beauty. It’s amazing! And she revolutionized Chanel makeup, from brushes – I love her two-end brushes, I’m using it right now – to red makeup in the first ever Le Rouge Collection. I was like, I never fucking apply red on my face. It makes me look tired, Halloween-y. But when I tried it, or rather when she applied it on me, I was sold. Ever since then, it’s my go-to! I found my look. [Laughs] I feel it’s a bit goth, it’s a bit cool. Then I found out that they were being discontinued, but by the time I realised that, it was too late! Because I was like fucking using it like there’s an endless supply of it. Right now, I use Chanel Les Beiges Healthy Glow Gel Touch Foundation with SPF25 / PA +++ in N°30, Cle De Peau Beaute Concealer in Ochre, Kat Von D Shade + Light Contour Palette, and basically everything from the discontinued Chanel Le Rouge collection, which I’m rationing like mad now. I amplify my night look by swiping on a bold lip colour… Like Kat Von D’s Everlasting Liquid Lipstick in Witches – Pitch Black.
I pamper myself with hair washes at Kim Robinson. I hate washing my own hair and almost never wash my own hair! So the guys at Kim Robinson sort my hair out. Cut and styling with Ivan, treatment and colour with Bryan. Because I’ve got naturally curly hair and I have micro bangs, I wake up with my fringe separated, and all puffed out. So in the morning, I usually wet it a little bit, and just blow dry it layer by layer, and then I’ll crimp it layer by layer. That’s how it stays still. If I want to maintain my micro bangs, I need to cut it every two weeks.
— as told to Charmaine Lee at Symmetry Cafe in Singapore on 18 Oct 2017