For all her doll-like beauty, Fiona Fussi’s acting roles haven’t exactly been winsome. There’s the haughty, hyper competitive influencer/aspiring singer Tammy in the 2019 web series Girl Band Called Girl Band. Then there’s Chi-Ling, the steely stockbroker with a colourful lineage in the much-buzzed-about The Last Madame. So natural is she in them that it’s easy to find them annoying; hateable even.
“A good actress is essentially a good liar. She’s versatile and is able to convince people that she’s someone she isn’t,” Fussi tells us. Point taken?
Nearly a decade after winning the Elite Model Look Singapore competition only to become one of our most successful commercial models ever (look out for her new campaigns with Lancome and Charlotte Tilbury), the 24-year-old is now courting show business – and seems primed to make waves. All that experience in front of the camera explains the ease with which she gets into a character, though she’s quick to point out that “modelling acting” is different from “real acting”. “I prefer the latter because it allows me to really express myself,” she says.
The fame and connections that have come with her career thus far have also been helpful, she admits, but never underestimate her to be just a pretty face. As she puts it: “I’m very expressive, animated and I have a lot to say.”
Citing Angelina Jolie, Natalie Portman and Meryl Streep as her screen idols (“they’re intelligent, talented, versatile and strong women”), she possesses a similar savvy and cool assuredness. While she’s starred in only three productions – the third being Joanne Peh’s directorial debut Under The Tree in which she had her first Mandarin- speaking role – she’s discerning about the acting jobs that she takes on. With modelling taking her all over the globe (the Charlotte Tilbury ad, for example, was filmed in London; the Lancome one – Paris), she gravitates only towards those that “really speak to her.” “I want to be able to fully invest myself in them,” she explains.
Ask her about the state of Singapore film and TV, and she replies with the poise of the perfect ambassador: “We have a lot of talented local actors and actresses and the potential to create a lot of high-quality productions, but because we’re such a small market with a lack of demand and funding, it’s hard to compete with the industry giants. It doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t keep going though. Where there’s a will, there’s a way.”
Lulu Wang, if you’re reading this: Her dream role is to play “a strong female character in an international film and bring some Asian representation overseas.”
This story first appeared in the March 2020 print issue of FEMALE.
Photography Stefan Khoo Styling Damian Huang
Photography assistant Alif Styling assistant Jamie Lee Hair Sean ang, using Kevin.Murphy Makeup Melissa Yeo, using Bobbi Brown, Chanel & Giorgio Armani Beauty