From SG to the US

Three other jolly good fellows

The image of bankers, lawyers and accountants working in multinationals is what normally comes to mind when most people think about the Singaporean community in the United States. Yet, of late, more Singaporeans are taking the path less travelled. From selling ayam goreng and writing plays to crafting pots, Singaporeans are finding novel ways to make it in America. The Straits Times US Correspondent Melissa Sim talks to five of them about how they got started and the challenges they faced in their chosen fields.

While some Singaporeans have quietly gone about their business in the United States, a few have been known for breaking into the American market in their respective fields.

Mr Tan Chade-Meng, for instance, holds the title of Jolly Good Fellow at Google and is the Internet giant's cultural ambassador.

Mr Tan, 44, joined Google in 1999 as employee No. 107 - its first Singaporean - and was part of the development team for its mobile search software.

His job now is to "enlighten minds, open hearts, create world peace", according to his website.

In January, a campaign he co-chairs called One Billion Acts Of Peace was nominated for the 2015 Nobel Peace Prize, which will be awarded in October.

A Singaporean who has broken into US movies is actor Ng Chin Han, or just Chin Han.

The 45-year-old is perhaps best known for his role in the 2008 Batman blockbuster movie The Dark Knight.

He will be seen again on the big screen next year as part of the cast of Independence Day: Resurgence.

Media reports say he will play the leader of a Chinese space squadron.

On the topic of summer blockbusters, Singapore-born Kevin Kwan definitely knows a thing or two.

His book, Crazy Rich Asians, was one of the top summer reads of 2013 and will soon be adapted into a feature film by Ivanhoe Pictures and Color Force, the producers of The Hunger Games movies.

The sequel China Rich Girlfriend, launched last month, was named one of the six hottest sequels by Entertainment Weekly - putting it in the same category as Harper Lee's Go Set a Watchman.

In Singapore, China Rich Girlfriend clinched the second spot on Kinokuniya's weekly bestsellers list for fiction as at June 22.

Melissa Sim

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on July 12, 2015, with the headline 'Three other jolly good fellows'. Print Edition | Subscribe