You may not know her name yet, but by Hollywood multi-hyphenate standards, Crazy Rich Asian newcomer Victoria Loke is already a superstar. An actress, model, dancer, artist, musician, writer, and budding filmmaker who is fluent in three languages and conversational in another two, Loke gives new meaning to the term multi-talented. However, when pressed to choose, the very busy Singapore native says her first love has always been acting.
"I was very shy as a child, so my parents signed me up for a Speech & Drama class with the hopes of helping me get over my fears," says Loke. "Ever since then, being on stage or in front of the camera felt like a safe space for me."
And Though Loke says she never thought about pursuing acting as a serious profession until she was older, appearing in a string of award-winning short films while studying at NYU sealed the deal for her. And if the runaway success of her first major motion picture is any indication — based on Kevin Kwan's splashy, bestselling novel of the same name. Asians have already grossed more than $230 million worldwide and were recently nominated for three People's Choice Awards - Loke made the right decision.
"Crazy Rich Asians was the first audition I was sent for when I moved back to Asia, and I still can't believe I got to be a part of something this incredible! I screamed for maybe 10 seconds straight when I first found out I had been cast. To be part of the first all-Asian cast in a modern Hollywood movie in twenty-five years is in itself such a blessing and a privilege, and to be a stakeholder in the conversations that the film has now catalyzed about diversity and representation in popular culture is something that I personally cherish deeply," says Loke.
Loke plays Fiona Cheng, the cousin-in-law to Henry Golding's character Nick in the film. Also, While Asians' dazzling costumes and lush, crazy-beautiful Singaporean locales are definitely a draw for many, Loke says what drew her to the project was the film's focus on such universal themes as love, family, and friendship.
"Asians is a romantic comedy, but it is also so much more.
It's a beautiful story about the strength of family, the fearlessness with which mothers will protect their children, the complexities of navigating the multicultural world that we live in today — the list goes on," says Loke.
"I just hope the success of this film helps open doors for many more actors of color and heralds many more diverse projects to come. This moment has been a long time coming for our generation, we hadn't seen an all-Asian Hollywood movie since The Joy Luck Club twenty-five years ago, and I certainly don't want it to take another twenty-five years to happen again. I believe each one of us has a duty in not just catalyzing the change but seeing it through to fruition, and I hope more and more people of color find the strength and support to keep creating their stories and putting them out there. We need more of us!"
If Loke her way, that's exactly what we're about to get. Currently co-developing a TV series about the modern millennial woman in Southeast Asia (something she can clearly relate to!), Loke seems primed to join the ranks of talented next-gen Singaporean filmmakers like Kirsten Tan – whose 2017 drama Pop Aye took home the screenwriting prize at the Sundance Film Festival - and Mike Wiluan – whose Buffalo Boys was recently selected as Singapore's entry in the Best Foreign Film category at this year's Academy Awards - in putting Singaporean cinema squarely on the map.
"Kirsten and Mike are doing so much to encourage and develop young Singaporean talent alongside their own creative pursuits," says Loke. "When I first moved back to Singapore, they were both people who genuinely engaged me in conversations about the industry and were so generous with their words and willingness to help. I am very grateful to be entering the industry at this moment, to be part of this new generation with people like Kirsten and Mike leading the pack into international territory, and I hope that I can do my part as well to put us on the map as a force to be reckoned with."