Performing seems to be in the DNA of Tanika Anderson.
The newest member of hit children's musical group Hi-5 started busking in Sydney's Pitt Street at the age of 12 to earn pocket money and gain confidence.
"I knew that I wanted to be a performer at a young age and my mum could see the desire and drive in me. So she took me busking to see if I could perform to a live random audience," says Anderson, who grew up in Singapore and Bangkok before moving to Sydney, Australia, where she now lives.
"I could and it was such a great feeling. It made me all the more determined to chase my dreams."
The 20-year-old, who was here in Singapore for the Hi-5 House Hits show last Friday and Saturday, even met the vice-president of cable TV network Nickelodeon while busking.
But her career took off when she successfully auditioned to be a performer at Universal Studios Singapore, while she was in a performing arts course in Newtown High School of Performing Arts in Sydney. Her father is Scottish-Australian and her mother is a Singaporean- Chinese.
Her roles at Universal Studios included being the lead singer and dancer in Mel's Dinettes, Bride Of Frankenstein in the Monster Rock Musical and the Maiden Of The Opera icon on Halloween last year.
She has her own dance school, 360 Dance, which she opened with her mother, Jen Anderson, when she was 17. Housed in her alma mater, Model Farms High School in Sydney, the school offers dance, musical theatre and drama classes to children aged two and older.
She teaches whenever her schedule allows her to, while her 49-year-old mother arranges showcase performances and competitions for the students with her experience in event management and marketing.
"My mother and I want to impart our knowledge and experience to our students and families. The school has a relaxed atmosphere where kids can learn to sing and dance," she says.
With her professional experience in the performing arts and working with children, it was natural that she landed the role when she auditioned for Hi-5.
After nine months of working as a puppeteer and understudy, she replaced former member Lauren Brant as a principal cast member last year.
She will be starring in the second season of Hi-5's latest TV series, Hi-5 House, which will air weekly from today on Disney Junior (StarHub Channel 311) at 10.30am.
Anderson, who has been with the musical group for two years, says: "Time flies when you're a Hi-5er. I'm not too sure what's after this, but for now, I am enjoying every minute."
1 What is it like to be on Hi-5?
As a Hi-5er, I love to dance, sing and have fun. I don't think of this as a job since I get to do what I love.
I adore the children I've met so far. They are so genuine in their love for us that I find this job rewarding.
2 Do you help in creating new content or songs for the show?
Although we are given the opportunity to create content and songs, I'm new to the role and am still learning. Hopefully, I would be able to contribute one day.
3 What is the cast like?
We are like a family and, coming from such diverse cultures, we learn so much from one another. I believe we were chosen for our ability, fun personality and love for working with children.
We have always enjoyed performing to children all over the world. Our young fans just love to sing and dance along with us.
4 Given your past experience as a busker, how different is it to perform live compared with performing for a TV show?
It is so different, with the atmosphere and feel from a live audience being so captivating. It also gives us the chance to meet fans. The recent filming of the second season of Hi-5 House in Kuala Lumpur was an eye-opener. It was challenging. I've learnt so much in the studio and can't wait for the TV shows to be shown so I can connect with my fans.
5 You started being independent early. Was it an innate trait or something nurtured?
My parents taught me to be independent at a very young age. My mother is my biggest supporter and she believes I can achieve anything I set my heart on. She has always taught me that if I want something, I need to earn it so I don't take it for granted. But she has been helping me in every way she can to achieve my goals. She drove me everywhere for busking, singing lessons and competitions, and helped me open our dance school.
6 How and when did you start wanting to earn money for yourself?
When I was 12, my mum wanted me to prove to myself that I really wanted to be a performer.
7 Having spent part of your childhood in Singapore, what are your best memories of this place?
I consider Singapore my second home because I have family ties here. Also, I had my first official performing contract here when I moved to Singapore to work at Universal Studios and I have made lifelong friendships with the cast members from all over the world. That is something I will treasure forever.
Whenever I'm in town, I stop by VivoCity and Bugis. Chicken rice and roti prata are on my must-eat list.
8 How would you like to be remembered?
For my fun and spontaneous personality and my friendships.
Hi-5 House airs weekly on Disney Junior (StarHub Channel 311), at 10.30am weekly starting today.