Photos: Dion Tang
Zoe Tay is on the cusp of turning 50 and the idea of turning half-a-century-old does not faze her. In fact, this Ah Jie fully embraces all things that come with age: fine lines, wrinkles et al, making it more timely than ever for her to be crowned the Asian ambassador of L’Oreal’s Age Perfect skincare series, also endorsed by Hollywood celebrity Julianne Moore.
It’s no secret that Zoe believes in ageing naturally, instead of resorting to plastic surgery or seeking minimally invasive procedures to maintain her looks. Even if that means she gets mocked for “looking older” on TV, no thanks to the age of ultra-high definition that shows and magnifies every flaw and pore with detailed precision.
Still, the self-assured actress has no plans to cave in to peer (or TV audience) pressure to get work done. She jokingly implored, “Okay lah, please excuse me - I’m starting to age” when we brought up the scathing comments passed about her au naturel appearance on screen.
As a public figure, the 49-year-old feels the pressure to age well and “look good” but she believes these can’t be achieved without first being in a good place – mentally. Everything else, she says, will fall into place naturally after overcoming one’s fear of ageing.
Taking things easy now
After paying her dues, slogging hard in the early years of her modelling and acting career, Zoe is now living life in the slow lane. Now that she’s starting to take things at a leisurely pace, has she ever thought of retiring from showbiz?
“[Yes], in the early and most tiring years of my career, I once followed him (her husband, Philip Chionh, who is a former RSAF Black Knights pilot) to America for a month and almost went crazy because I had too much time on my hands,” she laughed. “I felt useless and I was not used to that type of life.”
Thankfully, long breaks are no longer a torture for her these days, said Zoe, who jumps at the opportunity to go on holidays and have fun. Apart from her year-end ski vacation in Europe with her family, she also travelled to Hokkaido, Japan, and Taiwan with close pals such as Chen Xiuhuan (Sherry Tan), Hong Hui Fang and former model Celia Teh last year.
“Work is work, but you need to draw a clear line,” she said. “You need to shower yourself with some love, especially after so many years of hard work, and enjoy the life you have now.”
(Continued on next page: Zoe's sons feel "loved less" by her these days)
Her sons feel loved less by her
Ah Jie’s living-life-to-the-fullest approach has raised some concerns at home from her three little men, Bryaden, 11, Ashton, 9, and Nathan, 6.
The three boys told mummy they feel “loved less” by her these days, a statement which is “completely not true,” said Zoe, her face breaking into a smile at the thought of it. “It’s because they have grown up and need to learn to be independent boys since I can’t be by their side and take care of them forever.”
“I want them to learn how to make their own decisions. I still love them as much.”
While mummy duties are important, Zoe believes in taking occasional time off from it. “I told them I can’t be watching over you all day, I feel tired too and I need to love myself a little bit more,” she quipped.
Having been through the rigours of showbiz life, what is Zoe’s stance towards her kids following in mum’s footsteps?
“I won’t restrict them because my parents did not do the same to me, but I will supervise them. This is why I don’t wish for them to be exposed, I want to give them a normal childhood and let them grow up happy and carefree.”
What present did Zoe Tay receive from her sons on her wedding anniversary?