While it has been a while since Estelle Fly's last music release, the multi-talented homegrown artist has been keeping busy outside of her activities as a singer-songwriter.
As a social media personality, she has been maintaining a steady flow of content — ranging from song and dance covers to pop culture shorts — on both her Instagram and TikTok pages, where she boasts over 60,000 and 204,000 followers, respectively.
Formerly a part of the Japanese idol group Sea*A, Estelle has been setting aside time to continue building her portfolio as an actress. This year alone, she has starred in the Singaporean theatre production The Monster in the Mirror Musical and Mediacorp and Viddsee Studio's new television series, Alienated.
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A social thriller adapted and developed from Doyeon Noh's South Korean short film Human Form, Alienated centres around a troubled teenage girl, Luna, who traverses alternate realities (à la Black Mirror) with the help of a mysterious being and faces issues such as bullying, cancel culture, and toxic positivity along the way.
In the series that also stars Lim Shi-An, Lim Yu-Beng, Adrian Pang, and Bryan Wong, Estelle plays Becca, one of Luna's schoolmates. And as Alienated progresses, Becca is revealed to be much more complex than just a stereotypical popular girl through a nuanced performance from Estelle.
Following Alienated's premiere, Hear65 caught up with Estelle to find out how she brought her Alienated character to life, what she has learnt while working on the show, and how different her approaches to songwriting and acting are.
Hi, Estelle! How has your year been so far? What have you been up to lately?
This year has been such a year of new opportunities for me. After working on Alienated at the start of the year, I was involved in my first musical and then an audio drama as well. On the music side, one of my songs was actually picked up for a game, which I won’t be able to name as of yet. But it’s a game I grew up playing, so the inner gamer and musician in me was definitely over the moon.
I think on top of that, I finally found the time to really focus on taking care of my mental health too, which was actually my 2023 New Year’s resolution, so I’m glad I kept to it!
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Congratulations on the launch of Alienated! How did you end up landing a role in the series?
Thank you so much! The entire cast had such a fun time on set, we were all so excited for it to air! In terms of how I landed the role, I actually got the casting call when I was in Korea on a solo trip. When I read the synopsis I thought: "Cool… this is definitely something I’ve never done before." I was really excited nonetheless. However, I wasn’t able to film my audition clip in Seoul because I was just renting a room in an Airbnb and the room was really dim so I had to wait till I got back to Singapore. I sent it in just in time, and although I am always extra excited to film audition clips for a role that I really resonated with, I make it a point to manage my expectations just in case. Still slightly hopeful, I sent in my audition clips, and a couple months, later I was confirmed for the role!
Tell us more about Becca, the character you play. What motivates her and what did you hope to bring to the character through your performance?
The thing about this show [is that] all the [actors] were able to show different sides to their characters because of the nature of the show, which is why I love it so much!
When you first meet Becca, you would immediately peg her as the entitled "it girl" of the school. Disingenuous but charming too. That popular girl who was both easy to despise but you would still flex about even having a simple plain conversation with her, if you get what I mean. However, as the episodes progress, you slowly get to see the essence of who Becca is as a person. She’s outspoken, strong, driven, stubborn, a little selfish (I mean, realistically, who isn’t?), but empathic as well. Just like everyone else, in every episode, she’s the result of the circumstances that surround her.
I do think a sense of validation drives her. Without spoiling too much of the show, [in] every episode, it’s always her having to prove her worth in the only ways she knows how. When I first read the script, I couldn’t put it down. I just grew to love the different facets of Becca, and I felt like there was a certain spunk and charm to her which I hope I was able to bring to life through my performance.
"I just grew to love the different facets of Becca, and I felt like there was a certain spunk and charm to her which I hope I was able to bring to life through my performance."
To you, what are the biggest differences between expressing yourself through music and lyrics and doing so in front of a camera?
Personally, it’s a hard question to answer because I still do have to dig deep into myself for me to connect to my music/acting. I guess they differ in a way where in terms of music and lyrics for me, I search for a memory or moment in my life that I want to share and then find the words and melody that best tell that story.
When it comes to acting, the story is already there for me. I then analyse the character that I’m playing to understand her motivations and her ways of coping with situations. To do that, I also sort of try to find moments in my life where I relate to her. That way, she feels more real (at least to me) when I play the character because it actually comes from a genuine place. In that sense, the process is a little more different.
Credit: Nicole Quek
"When it comes to acting, the story is already there for me. I then analyse the character that I’m playing to understand her motivations and her ways of coping with situations."
As someone who has been in the entertainment industry as a music artist, a member of a Japanese idol group, and an actress, did you find the themes that Alienated explores — such as cancel culture, toxic positivity, and bullying — to be even more relatable?
Back then, when I was a Japanese idol, cancel culture wasn’t a thing. But cyberbullying was on the rise due to the internet, and as a 17/18-year-old, it greatly affected my sense of self-worth and self-esteem.
Now that social network and technology are practically part of our daily lives, our identity on the internet is practically a representation of who we are or want to be seen as. Although the themes of the show are a little more on the dark, mythical side of things, I do believe it’s a strong reminder of how real the impacts or consequences of cancel culture, toxic positivity, [and] cyberbullying can be.
"I do believe it’s (the series) a strong reminder of how real the impacts or consequences of cancel culture, toxic positivity, [and] cyberbullying can be."
What do you hope viewers will take away from this series?
To be kind and accepting. To understand before you pass judgement. ❤️
You’ve built up quite a diverse portfolio, which includes music releases and stage and on-screen roles, for yourself over the years. Was this something that you knew you wanted to do right from the start or did you make that decision later in your career?
Oh definitely yes, being able to experience different forms of performing arts has always fulfilled me. To be honest, I never thought I would ever be good enough to actually do it, to act on stage or in front of a camera. That being said, I’m not saying I am a great actress now, but I am thankful every day that I get to do something I love to do. I am eternally grateful for Janice and Aaron who gave me my first shot at acting, and although I was clearly extremely green, I’d like to thank them for giving me a chance.
"Being able to experience different forms of performing arts has always fulfilled me."
Zooming in on your music, it has been a while since your last release. Do you have any plans to release new material soon?
Hahahah. I’ve taken a long hiatus for sure, but YES! I actually do have new material(s) coming out, However, I don’t want to rush it because it’s something completely new, so I’m treating it with the most care I can. Do check my Instagram or TikTok [pages] for updates, though!
Lastly, what’s one goal that you have for yourself moving forward?
My goal is to actually release new music and take on even more acting roles next year! For myself, I’d like to work on stepping out of my comfort zone more!
This interview has been edited for clarity.
All six episodes of Alienated are now available to stream on meWatch.