Irene Ang

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Irene Ang
Irene Ang.jpg
Born10 September 1969
EducationCHIJ Kellock Primary School, Outram Secondary School, Outram Institute (defunct)
OccupationActress, producer, businesswoman
Known forRosie (from Phua Chu Kang), Founder and CEO of Fly Entertainment

Irene Ang is a Singaporean actress and businesswoman, most known for her iconic portrayal of Rosie in Phua Chu Kang. She is founder and Chief Executive of FLY Entertainment, a Singapore based talent management agency. As of 2019, the agency manages 54 local artists such as Benjamin Kheng, Patricia Mok and Chua Enlai. She owns 2 bars, Fry Bistro and Bar Naked. The businesswoman also owns A.I. Pictures (a film production company), Running Into The Sun (a concert promoter) and Two Queens Asia (a women-only event organiser).[1]

Background

Irene studied in CHIJ Kellock Primary School and then in Outram Secondary School.[2]  She went on to Outram Institute (now-defunct) to study for her GCE A-Levels[3] but was unable to take the exams as she could not afford the exam fees.[4] She did poorly in academics and failed the GCE A-Levels examination thrice.[5]

Early career

Irene started her professional career as an insurance agent under AIA.[6] A teacher had encouraged her to go into a sales career because of her warm-hearted personality and general ease with people. She was reportedly the top recruiter for AIA at the time. Irene mentioned that her training in AIA, such as cold-calling, financial planning and being prudent, has helped her to achieve success in her business ventures. At the peak of her career at AIA, she reportedly made more than she could for her work as an actress and businesswoman.[7] Irene spent seven years as an insurance agent.[8]

Acting career

Irene Ang (left) as Rosie Phua, the wife of Phua Chu Kang (right).

Stunt double (1989)

Irene’s first foray into the entertainment industry was in 1989 as a stunt double for Chen Li Ping in a Channel 8 drama, Splash to Victory. She mentioned that she was paid $30 a day and “sat around the pool and did whatever [she] was asked to do”. Through her networking with the crew members, she was offered a role in the studio.


Subsequently, she was the stunt double for Zoe Tay in the series Navy, where she was to jump off a ship and into the sea. This collaboration led to a friendship with Zoe Tay.[9] Irene remarked that the entertainment industry in Singapore “was quite bleak” in 1989. There was a local film being released every five years. She reportedly joined the entertainment industry to meet more people.[10]

Rosie (Phua Chu Kang) (1997)

Irene was talent-spotted for the role of Rosie Ang during her time as the ‘warm-up’ for the show ‘Under One Roof’.[11] Irene was cast for the role in 1997 and gained fame for her portrayal of Rosie Ang.[12] Irene shared in an interview that she was paid S$450 per episode in the first season.[13] She remarked that despite being one of the highest-paid English-speaking actresses, she thinks that “[her] entire life’s salary (from acting) cannot even compare to how much Ellen DeGeneres gets paid for one talk show episode”.

FLY Entertainment (1999 - present)

Some of the female artists represented by FLY Entertainment include Tan Kheng Hua and Nadya Hutagalung (as of 2019).
Some of the male artists represented by FLY Entertainment include Benjamin Kheng and George Young (as of 2019).

As of August 2019, FLY Entertainment manages 54 local artists such as Benjamin Kheng, Tan Kheng Hua and Suhaimi Yusof.

Origins

Irene felt that acting was not her passion even after landing leading roles. Her passion was to change the industry’s standards and expectations of talents.[14] In 1999, she set up FLY Entertainment to push for better recognition and representation of local artists.[15] She advocated for standard practices in the entertainment industry - such as being paid on time, getting paid decently and for production companies to have wardrobe and makeup experts on set. FLY Entertainment is Singapore’s first and largest artist management agency.[16]


FLY Entertainment started with “2 staff, a fax machine and a burning passion and belief in the potential of local talents”.[17] Irene reportedly started FLY with $2,000 which was all the money she had in her bank at the time.[18] When she founded FLY Entertainment, she was only a year into her role as Rosie Phua. She was working two jobs - managing her business and grooming herself as an artist, to raise her personal profile and bring FLY to popularity.[19]

Growth

With her connections from the TV station and the growing popularity of Phua Chu Kang, she earned more from commercials. More artists were asking her to have FLY Entertainment manage their careers.[20] Irene spent most of the early years of FLY Entertainment shuttling from Singapore to New York and Los Angeles to meet agents, producers and casting directors and going door-to-door with videotapes of her artistes, paying for these expenses out of her own pocket.[21]


Irene had to create opportunities for the artists under her management when there was a low supply of acting gigs. She created an events management company under FLY to secure gigs for her artists. The company organised Dinner and Dance events, product launches and FLY Academy to train actors on hosting.[22] [23] Irene also picked up hosting skills and theatre acting. Through these initiatives, many artistes were able to have a second line of income.[24]

2009 Financial Crisis

In March 2009, FLY Entertainment was S$300,000 in the red.[25] The news came during the financial crisis when companies were cutting their marketing budgets. With lesser events, there was a decline in hiring demand for their artistes.[26]


Irene had to choose between a 50% pay cut for her existing staff or retrenching 2 staff.[27] With her staff’s cooperation, they accepted a pay cut. Irene reduced the prices for her artists and initiated a campaign to engage clients every month.[28] She collaborated with St James Powerhouse and Zouk to increase earnings. In exchange for a week-long show at their venues, St James Powerhouse and Zouk received a cut of the earnings.[29]


2009 was also FLY Entertainment’s 10th anniversary. The team spent 3 months putting together ‘Devil Wears Prata’, an interactive dinner theatre. FLY Entertainment raised S$75,000 for the Yellow Ribbon Project.[30] Her efforts paid off, and FLY was back to being profitable by the end of the year.[31]


In 2014, FLY worked on the Ah Boys To Men The Musical by refreshing the story and script. It was staged in April 2014.

Other businesses

Food & Beverage businesses (2010, 2011 & 2012)

Bar Naked at Club Street was founded by Irene Ang in 2014 after a revamp of HQ Karaoke Bar. Photo from Manila Speak.

Irene opened Quirky Qafé in 2010, a western-fusion cafe that served ‘chapalang’ or mixed cuisine foods. The name is derived from the words 'Qatar' and 'café'.[32] The café encouraged a mentorship environment, having been established as an "incubation base”.[33] Irene sees herself a life coach, teaching “her young staff the business of running a café and life skills like people-relations”.[34]


Irene launched HQ Karaoke Bar in 2011. In July 2014, Irene revamped HQ Karaoke Bar to Bar Naked, a bar promoting outdoor advertising and event marketing.[35] She established FRY Bistro Bar in 2012, a rooftop bistro bar.[36]

A.I. Pictures (2009)

The poster for My Love Sinema (2016) starring Tosh Zhang and Cheryl Wee where Irene Ang was the Executive Producer.

Irene founded the film production company, A.I Pictures, in 2009.[37] Its first production was a 95-minute film titled ‘Perfect Rivals’. The film starred veteran Hong Kong actor Ha Yu and Irene Ang and released in 2011.[38] A.I Pictures also produced and released ‘Sinema Paradiso’. The film was a mentorship between Irene and up-and-coming film-maker Tan Ai Leng.[39] Irene was also the executive producer for ‘My Love Sinema’ a retro romance film. Irene reportedly sold her terrace house at Joo Chiat and rented a room in a friend’s house for 1.5 years. Irene did so in order to finance My Love Sinema (2016) which had cost $1.2 million.[40]

Running Into The Sun (2009)

Irene established Running Into The Sun, a concert organiser and promoter, in 2009. It was born out of a talk with Beatrice Chia-Richmond, who wanted to try out the concert business.[41] Running Into The Sun brought K-Pop superstars Super Junior, Shinee and Girls’ Generation,[42] as well as Mandopop veterans such as Faye Wong, to Singapore. In 2010, it organised the first Retrolicious Festival featuring artistes such as Debbie Gibson, Johnny Hates Jazz and Rick Astley.[43]

Personal life

Irene grew up in a troubled family. Her mother was a drug addict and her father was a gambler.[44] She was raised by her paternal grandmother who taught her “relentless forgiveness” and to be thankful to be in a position to give.[45] Irene has battled depression and suicidal tendencies.[46] Her outlook on life changed on her third and last suicide attempt where she decided to live to fight another day.[47]

Sportswoman

In school, Irene used to be a sportswoman in swimming. She remarked in an interview that swimming was a short-lived career for her. Despite winning some medals for her school, she did not pursue swimming as a career.[48]


Irene was introduced to fencing after she started working. A friend recommended her to join the Singapore fencing team as they needed 2 people. Irene subsequently went on to win a medal for fencing in the SEA games. Irene turned down a chance to represent Singapore in the Olympics due to financial constraints.[49]

Personal advocacy

Behind The Laughter: An Evening with Irene Ang (2019). Photo from Evensi.

Irene supports a variety of causes, including the Industrial & Services Co-operative Society (ISCOS) Fairy Godparent Programme, LTA’s Graciousness Campaign, Singapore’s Kindness Movement and “It Starts Today Anti-Recession Campaign for Young Business Leaders”.[50][51]


In 2012, Irene Ang collaborated with Henry Golding to raise S$105,420 during the Driving Change with Caltex community project.[52][53]


As of 2019, Irene volunteers as a steering committee member and mentor for Action Community for Entrepreneurship (ACE) start-up Singapore, amongst other entrepreneurial organisations and charities”.[54] On 11 July 2019, Irene Ang was the guest speaker for the 'In Search Of Purpose' series organised by Central Singapore CDC. She shared her life story and her contributions to the entertainment industry and arts community in Singapore.

Awards and recognition

Year Award Title Awarding Organisation
2014 Best Comedy Performance Asian Television Awards[55]
2012 “Most Awesome Personality I Wanna Be BFFs With” m:idea Youth Choice Award[56]
2011 Outstanding Achievement Award (Movies) Singapore Entertainment Awards 2011[57]
2010 “Greatest Women of Our Time 2010” Singapore Women’s Weekly Magazine
2008 Top 25 Most Powerful Businesswomen The Executive Magazine
2004 Entrepreneur of the Year (Nominee) Ernst & Young
2002 Honouree Spirit of Enterprise
2002 Best Comedy Performance By An Actor/Actress Asian Television Awards

References / Citations

  1. Low, Angela. “Interview: FLY Entertainment's Irene Ang Leads with Humanity, Humility and Heart.” ETHOZ. September 21, 2017. Accessed on August 25, 2019. Retrieved from: https://www.ethozgroup.com/blog/interview-fly-entertainments-irene-ang-leads-humanity-humility-heart/
  2. Tay, Ronald. Career Conversations: 20 Leading Professionals Share the Secrets of Their Success. Singapore: Marshall Cavendish Editions, 2014. Accessed August 23, 2019.
  3. Tee, Eddie. “Irene Ang: The First Time I ...” CNN. Cable News Network. n.d. Accessed on August 23, 2019. Retrieved from: http://travel.cnn.com/singapore/life/irene-ang-first-time-i-752429/
  4. Shazni, M. “5 Important Life Lessons We Can Learn From FLY Entertainment's CEO Irene Ang.” Vulcan Post. March 8, 2017. Accessed on August 23, 2019. Retrieved from: https://vulcanpost.com/589111/lessons-irene-ang/
  5. Lee, Regina Marie. “Giving Children of Ex-Offenders a Confidence Boost.” TODAYonline. June 12, 2015. Accessed on August 23, 2019. Retrieved from: https://todayonline.com/singapore/relief-support-provided-under-programme-ex-offenders-children
  6. Tay, Ronald. Career Conversations: 20 Leading Professionals Share the Secrets of Their Success. Singapore: Marshall Cavendish Editions, 2014. Accessed August 23, 2019.
  7. Tay, Ronald. Career Conversations: 20 Leading Professionals Share the Secrets of Their Success. Singapore: Marshall Cavendish Editions, 2014. Accessed August 23, 2019.
  8. Jagdish, Bharati. “Lack of Support for Local Talent Still an Issue: Irene Ang.” CNA. September 24, 2016. Accessed August 24, 2015. Retrieved from: https://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/singapore/lack-of-support-for-local-talent-still-an-issue-irene-ang-7804148
  9. Yap, Wy-Lene. “Conversations with Irene Ang.” High Net Worth. November 26, 2015. Accessed August 24, 2019. Retrieved from:  https://www.hnworth.com/article/2015/11/26/irene-ang-founder-ceo-fly-entertainment/
  10. Yap, Wy-Lene. “Conversations with Irene Ang.” High Net Worth. November 26, 2015. Accessed August 24, 2019. Retrieved from:  https://www.hnworth.com/article/2015/11/26/irene-ang-founder-ceo-fly-entertainment/
  11. T., Isaac Timothy. “Interview With Irene Ang, Founder and CEO of Fly Entertainment.” Tech in Asia. March 2, 2010. Accessed August 24, 2019. Retrieved from: https://www.techinasia.com/interview-with-irene-ang-founder-and-ceo-of-fly-entertainment
  12. Yap, Wy-Lene. “Conversations with Irene Ang.” High Net Worth. November 26, 2015. Accessed August 24, 2019. Retrieved from:  https://www.hnworth.com/article/2015/11/26/irene-ang-founder-ceo-fly-entertainment/
  13. Yap, Wy-Lene. “Conversations with Irene Ang.” High Net Worth. November 26, 2015. Accessed August 24, 2019. Retrieved from:  https://www.hnworth.com/article/2015/11/26/irene-ang-founder-ceo-fly-entertainment/
  14. T., Isaac Timothy. “Interview With Irene Ang, Founder and CEO of Fly Entertainment.” Tech in Asia. March 2, 2010. Accessed August 24, 2019. Retrieved from: https://www.techinasia.com/interview-with-irene-ang-founder-and-ceo-of-fly-entertainment
  15. T., Isaac Timothy. “Interview With Irene Ang, Founder and CEO of Fly Entertainment.” Tech in Asia. March 2, 2010. Accessed August 24, 2019. Retrieved from: https://www.techinasia.com/interview-with-irene-ang-founder-and-ceo-of-fly-entertainment
  16. “Irene Ang Book Now!”. FLY Entertainment. Accessed August 25, 2019. Retrieved from: http://fly.com.sg/fly-artistes/female-artistes/irene-ang/
  17. FLY Entertainment. “FLY Entertainment .” FLY Entertainment. Accessed August 24, 2019. Retrieved from: http://fly.com.sg/about/fly-entertainment/
  18. Tay, Ronald. Career Conversations: 20 Leading Professionals Share the Secrets of Their Success. Singapore: Marshall Cavendish Editions, 2014. Accessed August 23, 2019.
  19. Kok, Xing Hui. “As Boss, I'll Play the Bad Guy.” TODAYonline. January 22, 2014. Accessed August 24, 2019. Retrieved from: https://www.todayonline.com/singapore/boss-ill-play-bad-guy
  20. Tay, Ronald. Career Conversations: 20 Leading Professionals Share the Secrets of Their Success. Singapore: Marshall Cavendish Editions, 2014. Accessed August 23, 2019.
  21. Kok, Xing Hui. “As Boss, I'll Play the Bad Guy.” TODAYonline. January 22, 2014. Accessed August 24, 2019. Retrieved from: https://www.todayonline.com/singapore/boss-ill-play-bad-guy
  22. Tay, Ronald. Career Conversations: 20 Leading Professionals Share the Secrets of Their Success. Singapore: Marshall Cavendish Editions, 2014. Accessed August 23, 2019.
  23. Kok, Xing Hui. “As Boss, I'll Play the Bad Guy.” TODAYonline. January 22, 2014. Accessed August 24, 2019. Retrieved from: https://www.todayonline.com/singapore/boss-ill-play-bad-guy
  24. Tay, Ronald. Career Conversations: 20 Leading Professionals Share the Secrets of Their Success. Singapore: Marshall Cavendish Editions, 2014. Accessed August 23, 2019.
  25. Yap, Wy-Lene. “Conversations with Irene Ang.” High Net Worth. November 26, 2015. Accessed August 24, 2019. Retrieved from:  https://www.hnworth.com/article/2015/11/26/irene-ang-founder-ceo-fly-entertainment/
  26. Yap, Wy-Lene. “Conversations with Irene Ang.” High Net Worth. November 26, 2015. Accessed August 24, 2019. Retrieved from:  https://www.hnworth.com/article/2015/11/26/irene-ang-founder-ceo-fly-entertainment/
  27. Kok, Xing Hui. “As Boss, I'll Play the Bad Guy.” TODAYonline. January 22, 2014. Accessed August 24, 2019. Retrieved from: https://www.todayonline.com/singapore/boss-ill-play-bad-guy
  28. Yap, Wy-Lene. “Conversations with Irene Ang.” High Net Worth. November 26, 2015. Accessed August 24, 2019. Retrieved from:  https://www.hnworth.com/article/2015/11/26/irene-ang-founder-ceo-fly-entertainment/
  29. Kok, Xing Hui. “As Boss, I'll Play the Bad Guy.” TODAYonline. January 22, 2014. Accessed August 24, 2019. Retrieved from: https://www.todayonline.com/singapore/boss-ill-play-bad-guy
  30. Kok, Xing Hui. “As Boss, I'll Play the Bad Guy.” TODAYonline. January 22, 2014. Accessed August 24, 2019. Retrieved from: https://www.todayonline.com/singapore/boss-ill-play-bad-guy
  31. Yap, Wy-Lene. “Conversations with Irene Ang.” High Net Worth. November 26, 2015. Accessed August 24, 2019. Retrieved from:  https://www.hnworth.com/article/2015/11/26/irene-ang-founder-ceo-fly-entertainment/
  32. Tan, Meng Chuan. “Singapore Day Special Feature: Celebrity Artiste - Irene Ang.” Overseas Singaporean. February 16, 2011. Accessed August 25, 2019. Retrieved from: https://www.overseassingaporean.sg/en/stories?ArticleId={1221753B-E563-453E-9023-29A4B239E0EC
  33. Tan, Meng Chuan. “Singapore Day Special Feature: Celebrity Artiste - Irene Ang.” Overseas Singaporean. February 16, 2011. Accessed August 25, 2019. Retrieved from: https://www.overseassingaporean.sg/en/stories?ArticleId={1221753B-E563-453E-9023-29A4B239E0EC
  34. Tan, Meng Chuan. “Singapore Day Special Feature: Celebrity Artiste - Irene Ang.” Overseas Singaporean. February 16, 2011. Accessed August 25, 2019. Retrieved from: https://www.overseassingaporean.sg/en/stories?ArticleId={1221753B-E563-453E-9023-29A4B239E0EC
  35. Time Out Singapore. “Bar Naked: Restaurants in Tanjong Pagar, Singapore.” Time Out Singapore. July 25, 2014. Accessed August 26, 2019. Retrieved from: https://www.timeout.com/singapore/restaurants-and-cafes/bar-naked
  36. Yeo, Melissa. “10 Singaporean Celebrity-Owned Restaurants That Are Actually Successful.” Must Share News. June 23, 2015. Retrieved from: https://mustsharenews.com/celebs-restaurants-successful/
  37. Loh, Sherwin. “What's in... Irene Ang's Samsung Galaxy Note Pro.” AsiaOne. March 21, 2014. Retrieved from: https://www.asiaone.com/entertainment/whats-irene-angs-samsung-galaxy-note-pro
  38. Kok, Xing Hui. “As Boss, I'll Play the Bad Guy.” TODAYonline. January 22, 2014. Accessed August 24, 2019. Retrieved from https://www.todayonline.com/singapore/boss-ill-play-bad-guy
  39. Loh, Sherwin. “What's in... Irene Ang's Samsung Galaxy Note Pro.” AsiaOne. March 21, 2014. Retrieved from: https://www.asiaone.com/entertainment/whats-irene-angs-samsung-galaxy-note-pro
  40. Twang, Lisa. “Local Actress, Host and CEO Irene Ang Sold Her House to Fund Her Movie.” Her World. September 11, 2016. Accessed August 25, 2019. Retrieved from: https://www.herworld.com/celebs-men-sex/local-actress-host-and-ceo-irene-ang-sold-her-house-fund-her-movie
  41. Kok, Xing Hui. “As Boss, I'll Play the Bad Guy.” TODAYonline. January 22, 2014. Accessed August 24, 2019. Retrieved from: https://www.todayonline.com/singapore/boss-ill-play-bad-guy
  42. Her World Singapore. “K-Pop: SHINee and Girls' Generation Headed to Singapore.” Her World. August 22, 2011. Accessed August 25, 2019. Retrieved from: https://www.herworld.com/lifestyle/k-pop-shinee-and-girls-generation-headed-singapore
  43. “Let’s Mambo Guys”. The Straits Times. October 8, 2010. Accessed August 25, 2019. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
  44. Tai, Janice. "'My Mother Chased Me with a Chopper While High on Drugs,' Comedian Irene Ang Shares at Event to Raise Awareness about Addictions." The Straits Times. March 12, 2018. Accessed August 22, 2019. Retrieved from: https://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/health/my-mother-chased-me-with-a-chopper-while-high-on-drugs-comedian-irene-ang-shares-at
  45. Kok, Xing Hui. “As Boss, I'll Play the Bad Guy.” TODAYonline. January 22, 2014. Accessed August 24, 2019. Retrieved from: https://www.todayonline.com/singapore/boss-ill-play-bad-guy
  46. Lee, Jocelyn. “S'pore Comedians Reveal Their Battles with Depression.” The New Paper. August 13, 2014. Accessed on August 24, 2019. Retrieved from: https://www.tnp.sg/news/others/spore-comedians-reveal-their-battles-depression
  47. Lee, Jocelyn. “S'pore Comedians Reveal Their Battles with Depression.” The New Paper. August 13, 2014. Accessed on August 24, 2019. Retrieved from: https://www.tnp.sg/news/others/spore-comedians-reveal-their-battles-depression
  48. Jagdish, Bharati. “Lack of Support for Local Talent Still an Issue: Irene Ang.” CNA. September 24, 2016. Accessed August 24, 2015. Retrieved from: https://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/singapore/lack-of-support-for-local-talent-still-an-issue-irene-ang-7804148
  49. Jagdish, Bharati. “Lack of Support for Local Talent Still an Issue: Irene Ang.” CNA. September 24, 2016. Accessed August 24, 2015. Retrieved from: https://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/singapore/lack-of-support-for-local-talent-still-an-issue-irene-ang-7804148
  50. Tay, Ronald. Career Conversations: 20 Leading Professionals Share the Secrets of Their Success. Singapore: Marshall Cavendish Editions, 2014. Accessed August 23, 2019.
  51. Lee, Regina Marie. “Giving Children of Ex-Offenders a Confidence Boost.” TODAYonline. June 12, 2015. Accessed August 24, 2019. Retrieved from: https://www.todayonline.com/singapore/relief-support-provided-under-programme-ex-offenders-children
  52. Adrian. "Irene Ang & Henry Golding Raised S$105,420 in Driving Change With Caltex." SUPERADRIANME. March 27, 2017. Accessed August 22, 2019. Retrieved from: https://www.superadrianme.com/event-2/irene-ang-henry-golding-raised-s105420/
  53. Yap, Wy-Lene. “Conversations with Irene Ang.” High Net Worth. November 26, 2015. Accessed August 24, 2019. Retrieved from:  https://www.hnworth.com/article/2015/11/26/irene-ang-founder-ceo-fly-entertainment/
  54. “Irene Ang Book Now!” FLY Entertainment. Accessed August 25, 2019. Retrieved from: http://fly.com.sg/fly-artistes/female-artistes/irene-ang/
  55. Luxe Society. “Recognizing Asian Televisions Finest at the 19th Asian Television Awards 2014.” Luxe Society. December 22, 2014. Accessed August 24, 2019. Retrieved from: http://luxesocietyasia.com/entertainment/recognizing-asian-televisions-finest-at-the-19th-asian-television-awards-2014/
  56. Malinda-White, Kylie. “m:Idea Youth Choice Awards: Achievement Award Goes to Irene Ang (EXCLUSIVE).” Popspoken. January 6, 2012. Accessed August 24, 2019. Retrieved from: http://popspoken.com/arts/2012/01/exclusive-midea-youth-choice-awards-achievement-award-goes-to-irene-ang
  57. “Irene Ang Book Now!” FLY Entertainment. Accessed August 25, 2019. Retrieved from: http://fly.com.sg/fly-artistes/female-artistes/irene-ang/