Zoe Tay plays out her childhood dream in new medical drama

Actresses Zoe Tay (left) and Sheila Sim (above) received basic medical training at Khoo Teck Puat Hospital to prepare them for their roles as nurses in a medical drama, You Can Be An Angel Too.
Actresses Zoe Tay (left) and Sheila Sim (above) received basic medical training at Khoo Teck Puat Hospital to prepare them for their roles as nurses in a medical drama, You Can Be An Angel Too.ST PHOTOS: CHEW SENG KIM
Actresses Zoe Tay (left) and Sheila Sim (above) received basic medical training at Khoo Teck Puat Hospital to prepare them for their roles as nurses in a medical drama, You Can Be An Angel Too.
Actresses Zoe Tay (left) and Sheila Sim (above) received basic medical training at Khoo Teck Puat Hospital to prepare them for their roles as nurses in a medical drama, You Can Be An Angel Too.ST PHOTOS: CHEW SENG KIM

The veteran actress, who used to fear needles, gets to be a nurse in new MediaCorp drama

Veteran local actress Zoe Tay could have been a nurse but for one little thing: She feared injection needles.

She had harboured dreams of becoming a nurse after reading the story of Florence Nightingale during her primary school days.

Tay, 46, said: "Due to a bad experience with an injection when I was young, I used to get scared at the mere sight of a needle. I slowly overcame my fear when I was in the hospital to give birth and I had to be put on the drip. I got used to injections."

While it is probably a little too late for her now to have a career change, it is not too late to try her hand at nursing. The veteran actress will get a chance to live her childhood ambition in the role of a senior nurse in the new MediaCorp drama You Can Be An Angel Too, which begins shooting next week. It is scheduled to air in January.

She was speaking to Life! on Thursday at Khoo Teck Puat Hospital, where she and other cast members received basic medical training in giving cardio-pulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and taking blood pressure.

Another actress, Sheila Sim, has another kind of fear when it comes to injection needles: "I'm not scared of needles but I'm scared when I have to inject someone," says the 29-year-old model- actress. "Similarly, I don't have a phobia of heights but when I see someone near the edge, I get scared that he's going to fall off."

That will be put to good use for her character, she says, as she plays a junior nurse who struggles in the line of duty.

She also recalls visiting her elder brother regularly when she was much younger. These are painful memories for her - she lost her only brother Cedear to leukaemia at the age of 14 when she was just nine years old.

"When I was growing up, my brother was a cancer patient and he stayed in the hospital for two years. From young, I was going in and out of the hospital to visit him. I also donated my bone marrow to him when I was nine.

"Since then, I've never had to experience anything like that, so I'm very thankful for that. It's not really an experience you'd want to go through."

Tay, in contrast, was filled with envy when her older brother was hospitalised on one occasion during his school examinations.

Although she cannot recall the exact illness he was diagnosed with, she says: "I had to wear a mask to visit him. He was showing off to me that he could skip his exams and school. That scenario stuck in my head and I thought of the hospital as a place to relax during my younger days."

She now knows better than to envy hospital patients after experiencing hospital stays herself when she gave birth to her three sons, aged four to nine.

Neither does she envy her colleagues such as Fann Wong, who has taken her career to the region.

"Everyone takes their own path," she says. "My family is based here and my kids are still young. I can't really travel and take them along with me because they have to study. My base is in Singapore and I have a good working relationship with MediaCorp."

Even as she is taking it easy in her career to spend more time with her family - on her plate for the year is the filming of this medical drama and the hosting of a beauty infotainment show, Ladies Night - her fellow model-turned-actress Sim is revving up her acting career.

You Can Be An Angel Too is her third MediaCorp production, after starring in last year's I'm In Charge and Mystic Whispers, a drama set to be released in October on Toggle, MediaCorp's interactive mobile and web service.

Sim, one of Singapore's top models, has no qualms starting from scratch in a new field and is relishing the challenges of learning a new craft.

"Everything is new to me, learning how to emote on screen, how to remember my lines and how to work long hours and wake up looking like you slept all night. Though there are many challenges every day, I feel it's all worthwhile and I feel very fulfilled. I'm happiest when I'm in production. When I'm 'out of production', I'm very lethargic, like I am suffering from a withdrawal symptom."

nggwen@sph.com.sg

Register here to get free digital access to The Straits Times until Aug 9, 2015.
Comments