I have the pleasure to invite Ms Shannon Zann, our local freelance emcee, actress and voice actor. This multi-talented lady also conducts classes on camera videography for adults and students.
During this interview, Shannon shares how she stepped out of her comfort zone as a 9 to 5 salaried worker into her freelance journey.
Janus (J): Hi, Shannon, thank you for accepting my interview.
Shannon (S): My pleasure!
J: How did you get started on this journey as a freelance emcee, actress and voice actor?
S: Before I was in the entertainment industry, I was a social worker, working closely with children and delinquent youths
At that time, I was actively involved in my church’s musicals. I really enjoyed it despite being new and nervous. I then took up acting classes to see how it’s like, and the director told me that I have a flair for acting. I was pleasantly surprised and I took it as a confirmation from God that I can actually pursue this journey! God also put people from related industries including emcees and other performing artists on my path to share with me their experiences.
J: Wow! Why did you choose this journey?
S: I remember when I was in primary 1, my mum brought me to The Times Bookshop at Centrepoint. I got bored and started dancing and singing in the bookshop. That drew the attention of the other shoppers and they started clapping for me. Although I was embarrassed by the attention, I believe God paved this journey for me then.
As mentioned earlier, I enjoyed performing and with the affirmation of my talent, I decided to leave my job as a social worker. As much as I enjoyed what I was doing, I got burnt out and no longer enjoyed my work. I would like to give a shot in the entertainment industry.
J: So, are there any projects that are coming up?
S: Yes, there are a few events and shoots coming soon, watch out for them on my social media!
J: Can you share with us, as a freelancer in the entertainment industry, what are some of the challenges that you have faced?
S: Although this career has widened my social circles, it seems to be an obstacle to my dating life.
My job gives the impression that I have no lack of suitors. On the contrary, many guys were intimidated by my public persona. They shared that they are intimidated by my confidence and outspoken character. A guy friend whom I know recently said that I have this “intimidating vibe”. But, you know, I am not that!
Even ladies shared the same views. Previously, I joined some mass dating events. They were surprised why I was there as they felt that I shouldn’t be in this kind of events. They told me that I was of a “different calibre” and “too high up”. I should have lots of suitors out there. But sigh… I’m really just an ordinary gal looking for love, that’s why I was there.
J: Haha… I totally hear you. How did you overcome them?
S: To work on this, I thought I should find a more effective way of portraying the feminine side of me in the dating arena. I may have portrayed myself as too masculine sometimes. I did some inner work and got books to learn how to exude my feminine energy. I think it does make a difference.
J: Good to hear that you see a change in that. So back to your freelance career, who is your role model and why?
S: I don’t really have a role model, but this singer Jeff Chang (张信哲) did have some influence on my career. I love his songs. Like any hardcore fans, I would collect magazines, pictures and information about him. He, together with musical theatre, played a part to inspire me in my entertainment career and my journey as a Christian.
J: That’s a great influence. What are the motivating factors that keep you going on this journey?
S: I enjoy interacting with people, be it my guests on stage or with the audience. I have had feedback on how they like my voice and the way I speak. I felt rewarded to see them entertained and even encouraged in every event that I have hosted.
J: Would you like to share a personal story about it?
S: Oh yes, I remember one time when I hosted a pageant, a contestant came up to me after the event. She thanked me for being an empathetic emcee. It happened that she was very nervous that day, but by me just smiling at them all the way on stage, made her feel more comfortable and less nervous. This made my day and I realised that I can help and impact a person even by just giving an encouraging smile.
J: That’s indeed very encouraging. But have you met people who shared with you their perceptions towards your career?
S: Most people would think that this industry is very glamorous. You know, the limelight, looking pretty and surrounded by celebrities. They may think that it’s a lucrative job, earning lots of money and we lead a high life.
J: How would you like to address these perceptions?
S: The truth is behind all these glamours that you see, there is a lot of hard work. Sounds cliche, but it’s true. Imagine the work behind the scene, for example, as an emcee, I have to run through scripts with clients and manage their expectations. Sometimes, when there is a mismatch of expectations, I have to remain composed and professional. So it’s pretty much like any other jobs - down to earth and nothing glamorous actually.
When others can go into their snooze mode after their work hours, I have to be conscious of my public image. Being an introvert by nature, I would like to just retreat into my mental cave and recover. However, I realised that I do get recognised by some members of the public, so I still have to maintain that professional image (or at least not a total resting bitch face!) till I get home. I guess this regulation of wearing a mask in public benefits me in a way and allows me to hide behind it.
Also, going for auditions, getting rejected, memorising scripts, getting scolded (ok lah, not so bad!), long hours, burning weekends/ holidays etc. It’s not all flashy.
J: What is the rewarding factor that keeps you going?
S: I think this journey is a calling for me. I have seen God’s goodness and His provision in my 11 years of my career. I believe that He wanted me to impact people with my voice.
I remember sharing this testimonial in the church that my voice and hands are for God. He uses me to make a difference in others’ lives through what I say on and off stage. This was proven along the way and it keeps me going.
J: Thank you for your sharing. Before we end this interview, what advice would you like to give to those who want to embark on this journey?
S: I would like to just say “Just go for it! Pursue your dreams”, but let’s be wise too. There are basic needs to be attended to. Hence, I would say come out with a plan.
Do have enough savings to last you for at least six months. You need to manage your finances. Don’t spend every cent that you have. This is a common mistake made by a lot of freelancers. There are peak and off-peak seasons in our industry. Look at how many of them were impacted by Covid-19 last year. Be prepared to do some side hustles to supplement your income if there is a need to.
Give yourself a timeline, say one year or two and review your journey. If it doesn’t work out, you have to decide if it’s worth the while to stay on. For me, I told myself if it didn’t work out for me, I would go back to my full-time job. I would rather have tried and failed, than not try and wonder what could have been.
I’m so thankful that I pursued this dream God has put in my heart. Let’s be brave to explore the next journeys of our lives together!
Follow Shannon on:
FB / IG: @shannonzann
Youtube: Shannon Zann TV
Linkedin: Shannon Zann