“Something like zis?” says Sharon Au in a charming French accent as she tugs at an outfit while stepping out of the changing room. The former actress cuts a cheery figure at this photo shoot, her last before she returns to Paris after a three-month vacation here. She moved to France in 2018 and is currently an investment director at a private equity firm.
The 46-year-old chatters away as our fashion team fusses around her to put the ensemble together. It’s evident that who she is on her Instagram page (and on TV, if you remember her from back in the day) is who she is in person: She keeps things light-hearted and brims with energy. She’s also full of positivity, which is inspiring to see, given how she not only had a difficult childhood, but was under scrutiny for most of her adult life. In fact, with 129,000 followers on IG, she is still heavily scrutinised and often on the receiving end of negative comments.
So how does she manage to stay so upbeat? Why did she give up a cushy life here and uproot herself? Did she ever regret the move? Why does she upkeep her presence on social media if she’s no longer in the entertainment industry? Sharon reveals all during our hour-long interview.
Let bygones be bygones
Sharon didn’t have the happiest upbringing – her dad walked out on the family, her mum was hardly around, and she was shuttled from foster home to foster home. But to her, it is exactly this trial by fire that made her realise at an early age that there’s a silver lining in every situation.
“Because I was taken in by my principal and teachers, I had no choice but to focus on my studies – but this is how I became proficient in Mandarin. And because I didn’t have money, I’d wear second-hand uniforms and use old textbooks – but those tattered books came with notes and helped me score As for my exams,” she explains. “I learnt very quickly that something good can come out of something bad, so I never felt very pathetic.”
It was only when she was 18 that she started seeing more of her mum, but she never once resented the latter for her absence. If anything, she attributes her positive disposition to her mum.
“She had suffered a lot, and I’d think to myself, ‘She’s such a poor thing’. But I was very enamoured by her strength – she has always remained joyful and happy-go-lucky. It definitely influenced me and shaped the way I am.”
Now, mother and daughter are very close. So close, in fact, that up till a week ago, Sharon was struggling with the idea of having to leave again. But true to her penchant for making lemonade out of lemons, she decided to “create moments to replace sadness”.
“I was feeling sad about having to leave again soon – I felt like I hadn’t spent enough time with her. But I refused to keep feeling that way and booked a four-day, three-night staycation for the both of us. We had every meal together and visited every restaurant at Marina Bay Sands. It was so funny because we overate!”
Nobody to somebody
While Sharon didn’t have an easy time growing up, her life changed when she got talent spotted to become an actress at the age of 19. She went from not having much to having a lot. “I started making money, so I started splurging on things like bags. I had built good connections and was treated like a queen. If I was at a restaurant that was fully booked, they’d die-die put together a table for me,” she recounts.
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