‘Ah Boys to Men’ actor Joshua Tan talks fame and student life

WOULD you give up the opportunity to study overseas in order to fast track your acting career? Joshua Tan, the star of Singapore’s Ah Boys to Men, speaks to Samantha Toh on balancing fame and student life. 

Joshua Tan - star of Singaporean film, Ah Boys to Men. Image supplied by FLY Entertainment.

Joshua Tan – star of Singaporean film, Ah Boys to Men. Image supplied by Dasmond Koh.

While most Singaporeans have probably already heard of or watched Jack Neo’s phenomenal Ah Boys to Men series of films, many might not be all that familiar with Joshua Tan, the leading actor of the two part movie series and a student right here in Melbourne!

Currently pursuing a degree at Monash University, Joshua’s part time job is slightly different than that of your average uni student’s.

While he confesses his student experience isn’t entirely “authentic” as he doesn’t get to spend as much time as he’d like with friends here in Melbourne, his constant travel to Singapore for work commitments does not phase the actor.

“I’m not complaining. I love what I do and I am extremely blessed to be in the position that I am currently in,” Joshua says.

Love for his craft aside, Joshua’s budding career in Singapore means he has to be extra studious when it comes to assignments, generally completing them in advance to accommodate his frequent travel.

But that’s not a big problem he says. With studies in media and communications – relevant to his acting career in Singapore – as well as subjects in medieval European history, Joshua never feels like his student experience is work.

Like most other boys in Singapore, Joshua’s National Service years meant that he spent about three years away from his studies. Admittedly, moving to Melbourne was a decision he struggled with for a long time as he had to adjust from army to student life as well as taking time away from his career.

While he’s had to forgo a few acting jobs in Singapore, in hindsight, Joshua believes he’s made the right decision as his personal experiences here in Melbourne have given value to him as an actor.

“I couldn’t have learnt just by simply remaining in the industry working. I think [studying in Melbourne] has also broadened my view about the world, and I think it adds value to me as an actor. I believe that personal experiences are very valuable to an actor, the more he has gone through, the broader his range of acting.”

No doubt the enriching personal experiences of life as an university student can be put down to the vibrant city of Melbourne itself. In the few years that he’s been here, Joshua has made plenty of friends from all across the world, no more obvious than in his soccer team at Monash.

“I have mates from Germany, Italy, Hong Kong, South Africa, Mauritius, Singapore, Malaysia, the local Aussies… Melbourne really is a very diverse city, perhaps even more so than Singapore,” he says.

I think [studying in Melbourne] has also broadened my view about the world, and I think it adds value to me as an actor.”

Less diverse or not, Joshua confesses to missing Singapore while in Melbourne. Being away from family and friends back home makes him treasure them all the more.

Regardless, the actor says he’s enjoyed living by himself in Melbourne, but definitely has tips for future international students thinking of coming to study here or elsewhere.

“Learn to cook a few dishes, and I believe that having an open mind is really important and beneficial as well.”

Wise, handsome and ambitious, there’s no stopping this promising young actor who appears to be well on his way to superstardom.

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