“...my mind was constantly filled with imagination and a sense of adventure.”
Live through the life adventures of actress, presenter-host and voice-over artist, Naomi Yeo as she recounts her childhood memories, backpacking trip and first year of marriage with Benjamin Kheng — all that have shaped her resilient personality today.
Tell us about yourself, your background, your personality and your career.
I'm an actress, presenter-host and voice-over artist! I used to be the girl that would get lost in malls and arenas, and at one point was coined as "wander woman". I grew up in a household where my parents would house friends (missionaries) from all walks of life and cultures. I was exposed to stories from an early age, mostly thanks to these family friends. Coupled with the fact that I would beg my mom to buy me books from Enid Blyton and Roald Dahl, my mind was constantly filled with imagination and a sense of adventure. I was bogged down by societal pressures (getting good grades, university, you get the picture), and didn't exercise this childhood fascination until much later in life, where I backpacked for a little less than a year, and got a glimpse of how the world worked outside of home.
Acting was something I always wanted to do, but never ever thought it would open me up to hosting and doing voice-overs. Dabbling in this made me realise I could use my voice to represent things I stood for, and that my voice could be used for a greater purpose other than serving myself and my needs.
“What we do for ourselves dies with us. What we do for others and the world remains and is immortal.” —Albert Pine
Your favourite quote
Disclaimer: I don't have favourites, but I have some that I keep in my heart!
This is just one:
"Time will reveal all things."
What does fashion mean to you? Does it help you to express yourself better?
Fashion takes anything that's timeless or trending, and makes it relevant for the everyday person to reflect and embody. It walks a fine line with free expression — giving anyone the chance to express or disguise themselves.
I believe so, yes. I think it reveals my character, who I think I am on the inside. Self-expression was difficult for me in the past, and when I look back on my fashion choices, I could also almost immediately remember what I was like then. Now that I know myself better, I'm vocal with my choices, and don't apologise for it!
Who do you think has influenced your style the most?
It's not so much a who as opposed to a what or a how ...
I look back at the things that have influenced my style and I attribute it to function and practicality. I'm drawn to places that have a knack for complimenting clashing patterns, or minimalism with specific center pieces. I also appreciate it when someone knows how to carry themselves with character, poise, simplicity, all without trying too hard — it's all in the subtlety.
As you and your partner are both in the entertainment industry, has being in the public eye affected your relationship in any way?
In a way, yes. If anything, we take it positively!
Ben and I knew that our individual choice to carve a career in the entertainment industry would come with its own set of consequences. Being recognised for the work you do is extremely fulfilling and humbling, at the same time, you can't avoid the naysayers and anyone that wants to have an opinion over what you do. When your work centers around visibility, accepting both good and bad parts of the job are very necessary. We take this opportunity not to point fingers at each other when it gets difficult, but to hold support when either one of us finds it hard to carry their burdens.
On a personal note, what are your ways of resolving conflicts?
I used to bulldoze through conflict resolution as a means of "getting it over and done with". But over the years — and also ever since I met Ben — I realised, being confrontational and wanting to have the final say doesn't mean you'll get anything done. You'll also never really get any peace out of it. The best kind of resolve is when both are listening to understand instead of listening to react. And you have to mean it when you say you're sorry. Every argument has its own set of challenges, and I find it brutal when it reveals things about you you don't like. Most times, I'll feel remorse for having acted out, and I'll give myself some space to think about how I can be better before putting my sorry where it sticks.
We read that you love backpacking a lot! But now that we can’t travel due to COVID, what alternative activities do you do to rediscover yourself and push your boundaries?
Backpacking was very sobering — it offered me a lot of perspective staying in Singapore alone could never in a lifetime. But it also showed me there is no place as safe and beautiful as home. I try to instil this into my everyday routine. For example, how many different variations can I push myself to try with a certain yoga form?
Since the pandemic unfolded, I've pushed myself to acknowledge and try different things in order to re-invent the way I view change — doing more sports related activities was one. I used to talk my way out of situations I never had the confidence to do, and now there's no excuse. I'm learning how to say "Why not?" instead of "Why bother?"
Since then, I've tried hiking, wake-surfing, rock-climbing, running, and am learning how to do handstands. Ben has also bought all these cool gadgets and has taught me games on his PS5 and the Oculus, which I always avoided (because I hate losing), and by the way, can also be one hell of a workout.
What is the first country you would love to visit after this pandemic and why?
I would like to visit Japan — I've never been. Every time I contemplate going, I'd end up planning a different route into another country or island. People that have gone talk about it with such fire in their eyes, so that's kind of rubbed off on me in recent years. I'd like to see for myself what the hype is about!
What are some of your goals this year?
I believe goals have a way of manifesting itself and showing up at the right place, right time. It might not happen this year, but I have plans of doing collaborations, expanding my current body of work, and being able to invest in my relationships. Oh, and also to manage a handstand without any assistance! Hahaha
What is your go-to comfort food that calms your mind?
Ooh~ I have a few go-tos! But I would say .. nothing gets me more motivated and calm to get to the finish line when I think of bubble tea! Just imagine a cold brew of Peach Green Tea running through your veins with the sweet taste of chewy pearls pressed up against your cheeks on a sweltering afternoon!
Your work relies a lot on your voice, do you have a “voice care” routine for yourself?
It's a little silly to say this, but I find the best "voice care" routine is to drink liquids, sing in the shower as much as you can, and whenever possible, talk less!
Funniest moment that happened in your life.
(I'm not sure if anyone will think it's funny, but here goes)
Back in 2016, I was travelling in Australia over new year's and my friend was kind enough to offer me her house. She casually mentioned that she had a 3 year old and if I didn't mind children, I was welcome to stay. I didn't think I would warm up to her baby girl in the way I did — one of things that broke the ice was when the family was heading out and she points to me and goes, "Is it coming?" Her mom was apologetic and corrected her by saying my full name but I burst out laughing. I thought it was hilarious that I could be, for a split second in her mind, just a talking toy or an object! Either way, that was how my nickname "Nayo" came to be. She did her very best to say my full name, but somehow made everything better when she could not. IT remains to this day, one of the things I look back fondly.
Naomi wears our Cotton Shirred Midi Dress in Checkered | Cotton Puffed Sleeved Top in Hibiscus, High-waisted Straight Tailored Jeans, Cali Platform Sandals in Beige | Square Neck Mini Dress in White | Cotton Blend Tiered Maxi Dress in Olive | Catching Daylight Midi Tiered Dress | Cotton Tiered Dress in Black
Location: Kult Maison