SINGAPORE - In the wake of the big news of veteran actress Zoe Tay's second Best Actress win in her three-decade career came more breaking news at last Sunday's (April 16) Star Awards organised by local broadcaster Mediacorp.
Rising star Julie Tan, last year's winner for Best Supporting Actress, told reporters after the event she had decided to leave Mediacorp as a full-time artiste.
This came after she failed to make the Top 10 Most Popular Female Artistes list.
She said this would be her "last Star Awards show". She will not be renewing her contract with Mediacorp when it ends in June, but will continue pursuing her passion in acting.
Promising to reveal more details at a later date, Tan, 24, said: "There will be crossroads in life. Seven years ago, I made a decision to forgo my O levels, go to acting school and join show business. I've always been bold in my thinking. I'm grateful to the company, but now it is time for me to walk a different path."
Last year, she paid her own way to spend a few months taking acting classes at the New York Film Academy. That might have been a turning point for her, she suggested.
"Since I went abroad, I felt some changes. People change, Julie Tan has changed, my thinking is different," she continued.
Earlier that night there were other surprises: Double nominee Andie Chen was widely expected to win either Best Actor or Best Supporting Actor, but lost in both categories, to Chen Hanwei and Romeo Tan, respectively.
Andie Chen, 31, sounded stoic when talking to The Straits Times after the show: "(Chen Hanwei and Romeo Tan) are winners in their own right. There is no comparing. That's just life. I move on. I'm still very passionate about acting. I don't think anything can stop me from pursuing my craft. Hopefully one day judges will see it. I'm sure audiences will see it. That's good enough for me."
The Top 10 Most Popular awards for male and female artistes, which are decided by public vote, also threw up a few surprises.
First-time nominees Sora Ma and Desmond Ng made it to the coveted list, ousting hot favourites such as Julie Tan and Xu Bin.
Host Ng, 29, who won Mediacrop's singing competition show Getai Challenge in 2015, was the last to be called onstage to receive the trophy.
He said: "When the sixth name was announced, I start to relax and chit-chat. I never imagined that my name would be called."
But the night's spotlight shone brightest on veteran local television stars Zoe Tay, Chen Hanwei and Aileen Tan, who won Best Actress, Best Actor and Best Supporting Actress, respectively.
They are all alumni of the inaugural Star Search talent hunt in 1988, with Tay being crowned champion, Tan the first runner-up and Chen a finalist.
Tay, 49, won Best Actress for playing a cancer-stricken nurse manager in medical drama You Can Be An Angel 2 (2016). It was her second win in the category, which came 21 years after she first won for The Golden Pillow.
Chen, 47, was lauded for his role as a confinement nanny in the family drama The Gentlemen (2016). It was his fifth Best Actor prize, tying a record earlier set by ex-actor Xie Shaoguang, who quit to become a monk.
Tan, 50, won her nod for playing a long-suffering but feisty cleaner in Hero, about the lives of residents in Dakota Crescent.
Tay says: "Winning came as a bonus for me. What matters more to me is that Hanwei and Aileen won too. This is the first time all three of us won awards at the same time."