By Gladys Chung
It comes as a surprise when actress Rui En says some of her favourite bags are brand-less canvas totes, and that she used to be a tomboy who hated dresses.
After all, the 32-year-old was dressed in a flattering and slinky Grecian-style toga dress for this interview and photoshoot.
And who can forget the beautiful plum Christian Dior tulle gown she wore at the Star Awards show in April, where she won her second Best Actress award. She also won that night for Favourite Female Character and Top 10 Most Popular Artistes.
“It was an Academy Awards-ready gown, I chose it just three weeks before the event, and I looked forward to wearing it.”
“It was ‘princessy’ but the dark colour made it classic and ‘me’.”
She admits she could have handled the dress more elegantly that night. She had seemed exasperated at times when she had difficulty moving about in the gown.
“It was lightweight but there were so many layers of fabric and I was kind of wrestling with it,” she says.
“But I promise I will get better at this.”
This disarming honesty and lack of pretension, on top of her pretty girl-next-door looks and acting chops, have won Rui En fans, as well as the attention of marketers.
In May, she was named one of the faces of the L’Oreal Paris Youth Code skincare range. She joins a roll call of A-list international celebrities, such as Gong Li, Li Bingbing and Fan Bingbing, who also front the range of skincare.
The ambassadorship is apt as Rui En is a self-professed beauty junkie. She loves trying new skincare products and make-up and uses a different mask every night on her dry and intolerant skin.
To keep healthy and give her face that extra glow, she works out religiously with home videos. And every morning, she downs green detox drinks made from recipes she found on the Internet.
Rui En started her career in show business when she was 20. But the industry started to take serious notice of her only in 2011 when she won her first Best Actress trophy at the Star Awards that year for her role as a widow in the drama serial With You.
Rui En says the nomination in 2011 made her pay more attention to her clothes.
“It was the first time I had to dress up properly for an event and I had so many choices. I felt very lucky but confused too.”
“My sense of style was not set then, so it was just a whirlwind of trying on all sorts of outfits and just seeing what worked for my image.”
In the end, she picked a steel grey Hermes pantsuit, with a black belt tied stylishly and provocatively around her neck.
These days, she knows instinctively what she likes: “Nothing revealing, but classic, simple, clean and accessorised with diamonds.”
7 things in her bag
1. Soul by Ludacris headphones
This was a Christmas present I received last year. Its sound quality is good and it blocks out noise. I love music, and listen to everything from country to K-pop. When I’m travelling, I’ll plug into this and be in my own world.
2. Museli bars
I eat these when I am shooting and have to be constantly on the go. They are quite sweet and taste good, and they keep me from bingeing on the unhealthy stuff.
3. L’Oreal Youth Code prodigious rejuvenating pre-essence
I apply this essence on my bare skin and it helps everything else that I use later, such as serums and moisturisers, to be more easily absorbed.
4. Insect Repellent
This is an insect repellent soldiers use; I bought it from the army market in Beach Road. It is a must whenever I’m filming outdoors. It does not smell but is so potent that it is not safe to be applied on the skin. I apply it on the hem of my clothing instead and the mosquitoes do not come near me.
5. Memoirs of a radical lawyer by Michael Mansfield
I’m currently reading this for research purposes as I play a lawyer in the upcoming Chinese legal drama Sudden. Whenever I take on a new role, I will read about the character’s occupation as it helps me with my acting.
6. Creative electronic chinese dictionary
A friend gave this to me as a birthday present two or three years ago. It tells me how to pronounce Chinese words I’m unfamiliar with and their meanings.
I feel naked without my scripts. This is for Sudden, which I am currently working on and which airs in September on MediaCorp Channel 8. I prefer physical copies because I can make notes in the margin.
A fan gave this to me. I own about 20 to 30 canvas tote bags. I carry them around when I am filming or not working. For designer bags, my favourite is the Balenciaga Motorcycle bag because it is very versatile.