There is a calming quality to 36-year-old Singaporean actress, Sheila Sim’s smile. Sipping her rooibos tea in the studio as the crew circled around her — fixing lights, adding final touches of makeup — it felt like we were in the eye of a storm. Despite the activity around us, our conversation was surprisingly intimate, filled with serenity and joy — perhaps not surprising as Sim was eight months pregnant when we sat down with her.
Scouted to be a model when she was 16, Sim later made the smooth transition into acting, starring in local dramas such as 118 and Hero. She currently advocates for mental and emotional well-being through her latest venture, WonderandWellness, but her most recent and exciting adventure has to do with her being tapped by Zenith to join its latest global campaign, Dreamhers.
The campaign, launched to celebrate Zenith’s timepiece collection for women, features accomplished, independent women from all over the world. These women have defied the odds stacked against them, coming out on top. Among them are Spanish architect and painter Teresa J. Cuevas, and Japanese rhythmic gymnast-turned-television personality Airi Hatakeyama. We spoke to Sim about motherhood, her mental health journey and the importance of being unabashedly yourself.
Your career trajectory speaks of an individual that never stops moving. What has been your constant driving force?
Contrary to popular belief, I’m not ambitious. I’ve been lucky and blessed with the opportunities that have been presented to me. I seem to simply make the right choices.
My decisions are made based on what I think suits me best at that point in time. Modelling was about adventure and financial stability. Acting is about a sense of belonging and consistency. Positive psychology is about self- discovery, self-realisation and growth. Motherhood is just magic.
Was there a time when you felt like you had to defy the expectations?
I’ve never been one who abides by the rules or follows trends. I just have my own sense of style, attitude and values that may or may not align with the norm. Throughout my career, I have never modelled swimwear or lingerie. In acting, I’ve never had any kissing scene. They may be norms in those lines of work, however, it made me uncomfortable. So I stood by what I believed in.
We’ve read that it wasn’t the easiest path to pregnancy for you — what perspective has this experience taught you?
2020 has been quite a year for most people. This journey to conceiving and the Covid-19 pandemic has taught me that nothing in life is within your control. Because of my own journey, many women have opened up to me, sharing their experiences regarding fertility. I consider myself lucky to be pregnant. So many women have shared their battles of trying to conceive for years but to no avail. Life is not within our control. The moment we can accept this reality, our perspectives change and we’ll be better equipped to embrace what life has to offer.
Why did you decide to take up positive psychology?
I’ve always been interested in how the brain works and the science behind happiness. Especially since I see a therapist myself, I know how helpful and crucial it is to be equipped with the tools when we’re met with setbacks. It’s comforting to see how therapy is no longer taboo today. There is no shame in seeking professional help. It takes a lot of guts and strength to be vulnerable! My relationships with people around me have improved tremendously. I make a point not to preach to them, but people close to me definitely have mentioned how much I have changed since.
Zenith’s tagline Time to Reach Your Star speaks of resilience, determination and the courage to dream. What is your biggest dream?
In the last 36 years of my life, I have set so many different goals for myself. I’m proud to say, I’ve achieved most of them along the way. One of the first few dreams I had was to be financially able to take my grandmother on a holiday. I did that when I was 23 and thankfully took her on several more before she became bed-ridden from a stroke last year. Moving forward, my new dream is to complete a life coach course so that I can continue to advocate for wellness and spread good at a higher and deeper level.
Zenith’s Defy Midnight is available at Zenith’s boutique located at The Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands. Alternatively, you can check out their website here.