Avid radio listeners will recognise the name Naomi Yeo. For non-avid listeners, close your eyes and rely on your ears, and you will have the same epiphany as we did. With Naomi, we are putting the face to the voice.
As a radio presenter on 987FM, she’s entertained many an ear through her work on radio. What you might not know is that she’s also an actress, host, and voiceover artiste. What can’t she do? We sat down with her one afternoon to pick her brain on her passions, goals, and dreams.
Naomi arrives to our shoot wearing a simple black dress and a comfortable hoodie. Despite her petite figure, she quickly livens up the room with a larger than life attitude. With the occasional quip, numerous selfies and countless boomerangs, the amiable Naomi is ever-ready with a smile for every snap and pose.
At the fine age of 17, Naomi burst into stardom with a #1 debut album on iTunes for a local movie musical - That Girl In Pinafore. She juggled work whilst attending school, where she got her start in radio through the campus radio programme, Radio Heatwave. She went on to intern and work as a producer and presenter on 987FM.
After changing into the first look as the Moxie Girl, she settles into an armchair and answered our first question with panache:
“Acting is always going to be my first love",
"Though if I had to choose…” interjected with a deep breath “that would be a really sad day. But because it’s my first love, I know that kind of energy, that kind of strength will take me through to all the other areas in my life.” Clearly, Naomi feels passionately and deeply about her life’s pursuits. She reacted the same way a parent would when asked to choose their favourite child.
We were curious to know: what was it like juggling school and starting an acting career? “I know myself in the sense that I’m quite picky, so if I’m going to have to take the harder route in the sense that, okay, while all my peers are studying, I’m going to have to juggle whatever I want to achieve by the time I’m of a certain age.” With every insightful answer Naomi gives, I feel as if we are gaining a little bit more of a glimpse into the way she sees the world. She’s got a good head on her shoulders, and a vision for her future.
“It’s so easy to lose yourself in everything and let’s face it, this is a very superficial world.”
Throughout our chat, it also becomes clear that she’s wise beyond her years. Take, for example, her approach to choosing her acting roles. “I don’t mind taking characters or working with characters that are the complete opposite of me.” She gesticulates with her hands to signal the distance between her and the characters she’s describing.
“When you’re playing a character, it has to serve a bigger purpose… There are so many facets to me. If I’m given the chance to showcase a different side to me, why not? Whether it’s an ugly side or if it’s a good side, it’s that kind of connection that I want to form – that I’m just as human as much as you are.” This vulnerability is precisely what we’ve come to expect from actors through interviews, and it’s amazing to see it coming from a young person such as Naomi. She’s an old soul, and you get the sense that she sees the world as it is. She knows what she has to do to achieve the vision she has of her future self.
Digging deeper, we yearn to know how Naomi stays grounded through all the glitz and glam of the media world. Especially with the breadth of work, how does she stay rooted and focused?
“Nobody’s perfect. And I think it’s that kind of self-awareness to know that it’s not the situation that’s the problem, it’s how you can make use of that situation and try and better yourself.” I agree, but this is a truth that takes time, experience, and humility to come by. For Naomi to state this so frankly, speaks to her wisdom and courage, not only in the face of adversity, but in bettering herself and those around her.
“In order to stay true to yourself I really think that you have to first give yourself the chance to make mistakes.”
Staying in the vein of self-awareness and honesty, we broach a rather sensitive subject: flaws. Like all gemstones, beautiful and pristine from afar, we had to delve deeper with a loupe to discover the imperfections. Caveat: we did not expect Naomi to be so forthcoming.
“The one thing that I don’t like about myself is that I doubt myself too much and it leads to a lot of anxiety…” How does Naomi overcome this? The incessant worrying could have been a handicap, but Naomi’s professionalism means she shows up to do what she has to.
“I wake up everyday and I tell myself, if there’s nothing else that matters in this world and I only have these 24 hours, how am I going to make full use of it?”
Spoken like a veteran, and it’s obvious throughout our shoot – it was an outdoor shoot in the humid weather, and we got bitten by mosquitoes numerous times. But we heard nary a complaint from her. She’s a real trooper!
Like a child seeing candy, Naomi almost leaped out from the armchair when we asked about her hobby. “I love backpacking,” she gushes, leaning forward and beaming. “Backpacking breaks all of your walls, every possible mould that you have created for yourself. In unfamiliar grounds, we need to have our senses heightened”. She regales us with an anecdote of the first time she got lost while backpacking – in Thailand, with a German friend!
She tells us how she had to put aside her pride and ego to ask for help and get the both of them out of that time of crisis. She describes how lost she felt – being alone in a foreign country and having to find a way out of that situation by herself. She details the moment that everything changed for her: the moment when she realized that she was not alone, and that she was surrounded by people, who might be from different countries, but are still people. Her revelation of that ‘oneness’ of humanity touched our hearts. If one could find their way through the world alone with only the help of others, then maybe there’s hope for the world yet.
“Whatever ego or pride you have in that moment, you really have to set aside, because if you’re going to let that get in your way, then it says a lot about you rather than that situation.”
Our short chat with Naomi ends on a hopeful note. What would you do if money were no issue? “You know what? I would learn how to build a house.” She cites Hollywood actor Chris Pratt as her inspirational figure and waxes lyrical about his attitude and lifestyle.
After taking a few more moments to craft her reply, she takes a deep breath. “You know Chris Pratt, right? Money is no issue to him, but he grew up struggling to earn money.” She remembers how the actor once shared that he had to eat scraps off his customers’ plates because he did not have enough to support himself. It’s a stark contrast from the hugely successful movie star we’re familiar with. “Now, he has his own farm, with some sheep and
he’s just enjoying life.”
he’s just enjoying life.”
She reiterates her desire to build a house of her own. The roots of this idea were planted when she lived in New Zealand for three months at the age of 20. There, she appreciated their hands-on way of life and “learnt how to be more grateful”. In turn, she yearns for the peace and safety that building something from scratch would provide, as well as the visceral experience of building a living environment with her own bare hands.
All too soon, our chat is over. With her frank openness, Naomi has endeared herself to us, going from a stranger to a close friend. All in all, it aligns very well with how we’ve gotten to know Naomi in our short interview: real, wise, and hard working.
Akin to excited gem hunters, we at Moxie love to unearth a raw gem like Naomi. Charming and alluring at the outset, we patiently polish the edges to unveil a truly refined and brilliant character. Amidst the noise of media (social or not), Naomi Yeo shines bright like a beacon.
Special thanks to Make Up Store for Naomi's Make-up.
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