Gosh darn it, I’m blessed!
Adventure: My job affords me incredible varieties of experience. I meet people from dynamic industries in IT & Healthcare, I film kids shows, travel & food programmes, I’ve finally found my moment on the stage and continue to host online platforms relating to style and health. That’s a pretty eclectic bag of professional inspiration. I love a challenge and it’s important that work challenges and inspires me no matter what.
In my line of work, I constantly swim in the unknown. Initially, I went for months without really knowing where my next pay-check would come from. But that’s where I belong, you see. I don’t belong in the comfort zone. I’ve been told that the greatest success is found in the danger zone. I should go from the comfortable to the thrilling!
When asked what I knew about life for sure, I used to say that I had loved but had not really lived. Since joining Fly Entertainment and pursuing the projects that truly interest me, I’ve been afforded an exciting lifestyle wherein I’m not in full control of what lies ahead but yet have the flexibility of curating my experience. When I’m working, I’m traveling the world or meeting with incredibly intelligent people who are leaders in their respective fields. No matter what I’m doing, hosting or presenting or teaching, I’m constantly surrounded by people I can learn from. The world really has become my classroom.
Freelancing means that you work from project to project. Sometimes work comes fluidly and other times you are left with a few weeks of down time. I can’t imagine my life any differently. It allows me the opportunity to always be honest with myself and truly appreciate each day for what it is.
I find myself having a lot of time to explore the world. In the past 24 hours I’ve been in Japan, Singapore and Malaysia. I really do describe myself as a “girl on the move.” Every now and again, I have the time to really reflect on where I am, where I’ve been and where I’m headed. Honestly, I used to laugh at 5-year plans. How on earth can one predict where they will be or have the audacity to assume where they ought to be in years to come? I see the merits financially but I think ambition and success aren’t synonymous with bullet pointed strategy. Sometimes it’s about doing what you didn’t factor into your 5-year plan. Sometimes it’s about throwing caution to the wind and knowing you’ll still survive the storm or suffer the blows. Sometimes it’s about making an investment without the guarantee of reward. Sometimes it’s about doing something because you want to not because you have to.
All I know is that I crave adventure, I work very hard, I see every person I meet as a teacher and every unexpected experience as a lesson. A tattoo I have reads, “Amimetobios” (the inimitable life). I may not be flying first class or gracing the silver screen any time soon but one thing is for damn sure: I am massively in love with this life and I finally believe in myself 100%.
I’m a lucky girl. It just had to be said.
As I write this I am sitting poolside in a beautiful Colonial home in the heart of bustling Bangkok. I am indulging in a Chilean Sauvignon Blanc and realize that though “High Class” has come to an end, Alexi Li (Singapore’s #1 Celebrity Tai-Tai) perhaps hasn’t quite said her goodbye.
I’ve lived with this character for a good two months and upon reflection, I am stunned by just how much Alexis has taught me. I had absolutely no idea how powerful her influence has been on me, and how my theatrical debut has changed me significantly. When I approached this role, I relied heavily on my amazing director, Beatrice Chia-Richmond, and I am grateful for her unique talent of allowing the character to build before her and to guide the evolution in a very raw and organic way. I think that kind of tenderness is what allowed Alexis to slowly come out from the theater novice that I am.
I have to say that the cast and production staff of “High Class” were incredibly supportive, diligent and heartwarmingly committed. That kind of environment meant that I could comfortably allow myself to develop the character around the incredibly talented people around me. The 5 Tai Tai wannabes were probably the best teachers of all. Their sincerity and approach to their lovable characters certainly shaped the development of Alexis.
Time for another sip of wine. Done. So, what has Alexis Li taught Nikki Muller?
Be honest with yourself. I’ve often reflected on the importance of being honest with yourself. It isn’t an easy or comfortable task. The more responsibilities and dependencies you have in your work and personal life, the more often you find yourself taking a back seat to what’s really going on inside of you. Alexis is a very strong, confident, responsible and courageous woman. However, she never let go of her childlike optimism and playful nature. That is the kind of woman I hope to one day become. In Alexis’ darkest hour, there were many sacrifices she had to make as a mother, a friend, a wife and a professional. Being honest means knowing which battles to fight and having the grace to know when to let go. Every time I sang “Diamond Life” on stage, I felt a strange catharsis. It was as if an older sister was trying to tell me something. The experience was invaluable.
Hold on tight to your friends. Good friends come and go but those who are truly meant to be in your life will stay. It is foolish to think that no matter how strong you are, you can handle life’s obstacles alone. Alexis’ relationships with Samson Fernandes (Ebi Shankara) and Mac Fook (Shane Mardjuki) were a lovely reminder of how much stronger one can be when surrounded by people who accept you for everything you are, not just the person you want to be.
Accept that you can be wrong. I’ve decided that Alexis, like me, is a Leo. I believe she is stubborn, sometimes too optimistic and often rather sensitive when things don’t go her way or as planned. The 5 Tai-Tai wannabes undoubtedly catch Alexis off-guard. Could this amazingly powerful and confident woman actually be wrong? Could she have created a situation in hopes to demystify her world but essentially have fully missed the point of her intentions? The 5 girls eventually unravel a very important life lesson; when you make a mistake, when you are proven wrong, that’s the only time life reveals the truth in it’s entirety.
Love hurts but it will shape you. Alexis’ vulnerabilities are what intrigued me the most about this “larger than life” character. I can never begin to imagine to know what it’s like to lose the love of your life to your best friend. What’s more, I can’t imagine how it must feel to choose not fight for custody of your own children. There are deeper reasons as to why Alexis made these decisions. However, as a woman, I do know that when you fall in love, you really do hope it’s forever. Sometimes it is and sometimes it isn’t. However, though one may have loved and lost, we see that there is always someone out there who will one day be willing to give you everything you deserve and will wait for you to be ready to love again.
Laugh then laugh some more. I think I first really learned to laugh from the gut when watching “Mary Poppins.” As I write this, I find many similarities in sensibilities between Alexis Li and Mary Poppins; both are strong women, independent, focused and disciplined, have a playful energy about them and know when it’s time to let go. However, the scene in the Disney movie that I always loved the most is when Mary, Bert and the kids go round to someone’s house for tea. The more they laugh together, the higher they float up in the room until they eventually hit their heads on the ceiling. That’s really the point, isn’t it? There is humor in almost everything we experience in our lives. Someone once said that “life is too important to take seriously.” Now I get it. Come what may, there will always be a reason to smile again.
A big THANK YOU to Maestro Michael Chiang for trusting me with this role and for his infectious optimism, to Beatrice Chia-Richmond for giving me the chance to explore Alexis with her and to Annie Pek for her steadfast support from day one.
And with this, I leave you with a beautiful song that my mother used to sing to me while I was growing up. Little did I know that the message would mean more to me now, as emphasized by the lessons I’ve come by from my mentor, Alexis Li. Enjoy!