Acting in your first movie and meeting your dream guy at the same time? Talk about killing two birds with one stone.
That was the case for Siew Pui Yi — better known as MsPuiyi — when she was cast in Malaysian horror movie Pulau alongside her boyfriend Mark O’Dea.
In an interview with AsiaOne yesterday (March 14), the 24-year-old let us in — and her fellow cast members Amelia Henderson and Joey Leong — on how love blossomed between her and Mark.
“We wanna know too!” Joey protested.
“We were all on set together and I did not know that this was happening at all,” Amelia added.
According to Pui Yi, that was because “the whole chemistry thing” didn’t actually happen on set as Mark didn’t make a great first impression on her.
It all started when Pui Yi was privy to a bizarre conversation between Mark and fellow actors Harris Annuar and Alex Henderson, who is Amelia’s younger brother.
“We were on the same boat for an hour, heading out to the set, and for the whole hour, the guys were having a boys’ talk,” she said.
“They were talking about, ‘Can a man defeat a crocodile with a sword?'”
As they went on discussing the possibility of survival, Pui Yi shared that she was thinking: “What is this… no.”
Amelia laughed, saying: “I can just imagine you and Sabronzo (the only other female member of Pui Yi’s group) just sitting there thinking, ‘What is wrong with these people?'” .
Pui Yi agreed: “It was three grown-ups saying, ‘I think I could defeat a crocodile with a sword,’ ‘No, you should run in zig-zags.'”
This happened even before the cast had properly introduced themselves to one another, which Pui Yi recalled they only did the following day.
“I’m really happy to hear that he stopped talking about crocodiles after shooting was over and decided to ask you, babe,” Amelia said.
Mark asked Pui Yi out in January, and she got to know him better.
“It started with me thinking he was a bit weird, to somewhat funny, to somewhat caring, to finally being kind,” Pui Yi said.
Despite the strange first impression, Pui Yi revealed that she had a great filming experience, learning all she could from her cast mates.
“As a newcomer, with Pulau being my first movie, of course I was nervous and not sure of what to expect, what to do,” she said. “Everyone was helpful, more experienced, and friendly. So this was a good training ground for me.”
While Pui Yi is open to doing more movies, that’s not the only thing the former Penthouse and OnlyFans model is up to these days.
Alongside pursuing a new career as a DJ, Pui Yi has also started a US$1 million (S$1.34 million) scholarship fund with US-based non-profit EduCapital Foundation for underprivileged students around the world.
“It started from the fact that I couldn’t study to become a doctor because medicine takes seven to nine years [of studying] and my family couldn’t afford it. My parents couldn’t afford me going to university either,” Pui Yi — who graduated last November with a business degree — told us.
“During high school, I knew that getting a scholarship would be my only way out, so I had to really study hard for it. I know the pain, so I really wanted to give other students a chance too.”
She described the “many layers” to the scholarship in detail: it would provide grants for students who need them, full sponsorships for underprivileged students to study in the US, and an additional US$50,000 to top scorers in their programme for start-up businesses after graduation.
“I’m in safe hands because I partnered with EduCapital, who has done scholarships for seven to eight years now, and are very experienced in handling funds and applications professionally,” Pui Yi assured.
‘I didn’t feel lonely at all on that island’
Pulau follows Kat (Amelia) and her friends, played by Joey, Alif Satar, Ikmal Amry, Sanjna Suri, Jazmy Juma and Vikar, who are on an island getaway. They run into Yaya (Sabronzo) and her gang, played by Pui Yi, Mark, Harris and Alex, who dare them to stay overnight on a haunted island, despite the warnings of their boatman (Nam Ron).
Filming took place in picturesque Langkawi, but getting a bunch of 20-somethings together could be “hard in terms of social management”, according to Amelia.
Nevertheless, the memories that stuck out to her most while filming were the camaraderie and support the cast members showed one another.
“For our experience at least, the movie is, what, five per cent of the Pulau journey? The other 95 per cent was the months that we were in Langkawi, the script readings we did beforehand — those were the best things for me,” Amelia added.
Joey agreed: “On set, we’d just talk about life or something not related to the movie at all, and I didn’t feel lonely at all on that island because of the great companions I had.”
The only downside, Amelia added, was that the cast was split into two groups during filming, so she and Joey didn’t get to hang out with Pui Yi very often.
As the lead, Amelia didn’t have much downtime to lepak (relax) with the rest either.
“I think we had more off days than you did,” Joey said, to which Amelia responded: “I don’t think I had an off day on that set, but I’m not complaining.”
Concerned, Joey asked if she had gotten enough sleep or been eating properly, and it was a resounding no to both from Amelia.
But Amelia finally got to join the rest and hang out with the other group after filming wrapped and the cast planned a day out together.
“Right before we had to go back to Kuala Lumpur, we actually spent the whole day together. We went horse riding, we took a lot of pictures together,” Joey said.
“We got to enjoy ourselves while working.”
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