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Zoe Tay Hopes To “Do A Better Job” After Receiving Mixed Reviews For Her Portrayal Of Thai Character In The Heartland Hero

Jiayou, Ah Jie!

Zoe Tay’s character, a wealthy woman from Thailand — does that make her a, um, Thai tai tai? — named Thailuck Thabarabasi, has finally appeared on The Heartland Hero, over two months after the Mediacorp long-form drama started airing.

To prepare for her role, Ah Jie told 8world that she took online lessons to learn Thai as well as to perfect her Thai-accented Mandarin.

She even tried listening to the AI voice in Google Translate, but found that it “wasn’t 100 per cent accurate”.

The 53-year-old also practised over the phone with a teacher and picked up more tips from a Thai native she met through a friend, not unlike how Chantalle Ng mastered her Vietnamese accent for My Star Bride from a Vietnamese manicurist.

1 of 3 Zoe Tay as Thailuck Thabarabasi in The Heartland Hero

Speaking of Chantalle, Zoe was asked if she’s “worried” that audiences will compare their two performances (presumably ‘cos they both played women who speak with foreign accents).

“Our characters’ backgrounds are very different so they cannot be compared,” she said. “Chantalle played a pure Vietnamese person. My character isn’t pure Thai — her mother is Chinese and her father is a Thai nobleman — so she can speak Mandarin, but with a Thai accent.”

While everyone knows Ah Jie is a highly respected award-winning thespian, she came clean about needing a while to adjust to Thailuck’s way of speaking (hey, it’s a tough job, even for someone as talented as her).

  • 2 of 3 Even queens learn new things all the time

    “I had to pay attention to a lot of aspects of her speech like the speed, rhythm, mellowness, and pronunciation, and it could be quite a challenge,” she admitted to in a WhatsApp interview.

    She added that she did have her concerns about how the audience would react to her portrayal, especially since it was her first attempt at such a role.

    “I tried to play her in a funnier and a bit more over-the-top way to make her more interesting, so this was something new for me,” she said.

    Judging from some of the comments we’ve seen on social media, the responses to Zoe’s depiction of Thailuck range from the positive to… well, let’s just say there are netizens who think she has room for improvement.

    The star herself is aware of this. “The audience’s reaction to the character has been mixed,” she mused. “Those who like her find her interesting, but those who don’t think that she’s too over-the-top and her pronunciation is a bit unnatural.”

    However, she’s taking everything in her stride like a true pro.

    “This was my first attempt at such a role and I want to thank everyone for their feedback. Next time, I hope to do a better job and I will continue working hard.”

  • 3 of 3 Jiayou, Ah Jie!

    The Heartland Hero airs weeknights, 7.30pm on Ch 8. You can also watch episodes on meWATCH.

    Photos: Zoe Tay/Instagram, Ch 8 /Instagram, Mediacorp/Photo unit, Mediacorp

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    zoe tay The Heartland Hero

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