She may have snagged her second Golden Horse Award (sometimes known as the Chinese-language Oscars) after six years, but Yeo Yann Yann knows that the public doesn't give two hoots about her and is more than happy to fly under the radar when she is out in public.
When we asked about her thoughts on being in the spotlight again for her Best Actress win, the 42-year-old Malaysian quipped with a hearty laugh: "Who cares whether an actor is walking on the street in Singapore? Unless you're a K-pop star."
Yann Yann added: "I'm very lucky I can still take my MRT very happily and walk on the street happily. I don't have any baggage about looking a certain way every day. I'm more than happy to hide in the corner watching people all the time, and nobody recognises who I am."
The Singapore-based actress had a phone interview last Friday (Dec 6) with regional media to talk about the upcoming HBO Asia anthology series, Invisible Stories. The show uncovers the untold stories of residents in Singapore and in the first episode, Yann Yann plays a struggling single mother with an autistic son.
Fans of the actress will know that it's not the first time she has inhabited such roles, and despite having a 22-year career on stage, film, and television, Yann Yann can't seem to pull herself away from these sympathetic characters.
Or can she?
"Maybe I could say that the directors are drawn to me for these roles?" she asked with a chuckle.
Yann Yann revealed that she initially rejected the role on Invisible Stories; much to the disappointment of the director, Ler Jiyuan, who had written the script with her in mind.
She said: "The first time he showed me the script and had a meeting with me, I actually said no because I had just finished a long-form film and I was feeling very tired. Really lethargic. I was thinking I should let myself rest."
And despite feeling for the character, whom she described as "heart-wrenching", Yann Yann stayed firm in her resolve to have a breather after the film Wet Season because "my body is my tool". Yet, all it took was a simple interview of Hollywood icon Meryl Streep to give her a reason to push herself forward.
"I was watching a video one day and I saw Meryl having an interview. She talked about why she picked up certain roles. She said she picks up roles sometimes when they have the least voice in society. That line touched me very much, so I was thinking I should cut short my holiday," she said.
A phone call later, she landed the role where she took a beating — quite literally — during the shoot.
Due to the violent scuffle that her character has with her on-screen son (played by Devin Pan), Yann Yann said that she had bruises on her body from the first day of rehearsals.
It's nothing that she couldn't recover from, however, and she found it faster to leave her character behind than for the bruises to heal.
NOT BEAUTIFUL OR TALENTED ENOUGH
In one scene, Yann Yann's character can be seen inspecting her injuries in front of the mirror wearing nothing but lingerie. As an average-sized woman baring it for the camera in a non-sexual context, we felt that it was such an honest and accurate depiction of the everyday female, and a breath of fresh air on a medium where women are quite often objectified.
The showbiz industry can be quite harsh, especially when there are certain expectations of female beauty, and even Yann Yann isn't spared when it comes to her looks.
The two-time Golden Horse winner admitted candidly: "I've been told I'm not beautiful enough. I've been told I'm not talented enough. There are always people who are trying to tell you certain things that might bring you down. It's a reflective moment, at the same time, it's also a time to stand your ground even more — that I am what I am."
She also believes that there's a place for everyone because "every film needs different types of characters".
And since she's played enough 'mum' roles to probably write a dummy's guide to parenting, has she gleaned any insights that has helped her in raising her daughter?
"Yeah, I do believe that every character has something for me to learn... I think actors have a very privileged job; in every human that you play, you're able to learn something from them.
"From these mothers (I've played)... I learnt to be very patient with my child," she explained.
As "patient" as she might be, though, Yann Yann isn't above the anxiety that stems from living in a paper-chasing society, especially with her daughter entering primary school.
She added with a chuckle: "Am I a kan cheong mother? Yeah, with the atmosphere in Singapore, it's going to be very hard to not be a kan cheong mother. But I try not to."
Invisible Stories premieres January 5 at 10pm on HBO GO and HBO.