Former S’pore Idol turns sultry pole-dancer in film debut

Sylvia Ratonel shared more about her film debut at an interview with Yahoo! Singapore at Wheelock Place. (Yahoo! photo/ Deborah Choo)
Sylvia Ratonel shared more about her film debut at an interview with Yahoo! Singapore at Wheelock Place. (Yahoo! photo/ Deborah Choo)

Former Singapore Idol singer Sylvia Ratonel couldn't have been given a more challenging task for her debut film — to pole dance in her undies at a local nightclub.

"It was really intimidating," recalled the 24-year-old Singaporean during a recent interview with Yahoo! Singapore at Wheelock Place.

Given the task by theatre and film director Ken Kwek, who wanted to prepare her for her role in "Sex.Violence.FamilyValues", Ratonel donned a wig and a pair of huge sunglasses and went to a random club along with co-star Vanessa Vanderstraaten and pole danced for an hour.

"I was uncomfortable at first... especially when people are staring. But when no one recognized me, I slowly shed all inhibitions," said the former Idol alumni, who finished runner-up to Sezairi Sezali in Season 3 of Singapore Idol in 2009.

Sex.Violence.FamilyValues is a collection of three short films by Kwek. In the third film called "The Bouncer", Ratonel plays a rebellious teen pole-dancer who comes up against a nightclub bouncer with her sudden appearance at the club one day.

Describing her first-ever movie role as "sensual", and "provocative but so real", the singer of Euro-Filipino descent jumped at the chance to play Anna after passing the auditions in December last year.

Ratonel spent one month training in pole dancing while juggling other projects before the shoot began.

"I read more about 'Anna' and began to look past her pole dancing to see her relationship with her dad. She is an introvert when not pole dancing. She is womanly, sexy, feminine," said Ratonel. She admitted that she did see some of her role in the person she was three to four years ago where she was feisty and strong-headed.

"I think I've mellowed down a lot now. I've learnt to take some and give some," she said laughing.

But she is aware that playing a saucy pole-dancer is a far cry from her wholesome, good girl image.

"They [critics] don't see it as an art; they see it as something sleazy," she said, admitting though that her friends and family were concerned initially.

To shape up for the role, which sees her dance provocatively in a barely there top and panties, Ratonel did weight lifting on top of her cardio exercises and also cut rice from her diet entirely.

As Singapore Idol's first female finalist who later went on to perform in musicals and hosted TV shows on MediaCorp, Ratonel is not unfamiliar being in front of the camera.

But filming was a totally different kind of experience, said the former FHM Top 100 Sexiest girl.

"It's easier for me to assume a different persona. I'm not me," she said, adding that she worked better with scripts than having to host and be herself in front of the cameras.

"Ken [Kwek] has a way of with people to make you feel at ease. I fully trusted him with the film," she said of the film director.

"Sex.Violence.FamilyValues" also stars award-winning actor and host Osman Sulaiman, famous local actress and producer, Tan Kheng Hua and actor-host Benjamin Heng.

Speaking of her co-stars whom she described as being a "small family", Ratonel said, "They don't throw their weight around. They're not uptight or arrogant and it's very chill working with them!"

Watch trailer here.

"Sex.Violence.FamilyValues" premieres on October 11 exclusively at Cineleisure Orchard.

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