Sukki Singapora is Asia's most in-demand burlesque performer. She also might be the world's most extroverted introvert. Singapora railed against her own self-doubt, her conservative upbringing, and even overturned a law to make her mark on the world. A fierce advocate for women's issues, she wields her public persona with purpose, using the artform of burlesque as a tool to empower women.
In the first episode of Gen.T's new podcast Crazy Smart Asia, which chronicles the unexpected stories of Asia's disruptors, the star of Netflix show Singapore Social talks to Gen.T editor Lee Williamson about her journey to success and the things she's learned along the way.
THE POWER OF SELF-BELIEF
“Even though I'm not the best, I brainwash myself into thinking I'm the best. If you have one micro doubt in your head that you won’t make it, you won’t make it.”
ON ASIAN REPRESENTATION IN HOLLYWOOD
“Hollywood kind of let in Asians, but they were only fine with one type of Asians. It's a mission of mine to really change that. What I want to do is bring my style of burlesque and bring a strong, artistic brown woman to the forefront of mainstream entertainment.”
BURLESQUE AS EMPOWERMENT
"It’s all very much all about empowering women. Although when I actually started out on this journey, it was about empowering myself. I had no idea how big this would be. I came from a very culturally strict Indian-Singaporean background. Even my British mother, she was extremely conservative. So I felt this desire to push back against that and explore myself, explore taboos like sexuality, liberation and female empowerment. So that was my personal journey, and burlesque was a vessel for that. That’s why I gravitated towards it."
"In terms of the larger campaign that it eventually became, that wasn’t something I set out to do but when I saw the impact it was having on other women, allowing them to also feel liberated and empowered by my journey, it became a responsibility. So that’s when it really flipped to… perhaps I wouldn’t have gone that far, I wouldn’t have pushed that hard for the empowerment of women in Singapore and worldwide had I not seen the impact that my singular journey was having."
ON THE FALLACY OF RIGHT-PLACE-RIGHT-TIME
"I make sure that I am physically positioned in the right place at the right time. And I think that's the real luck. There's no such thing as chance; you create your own opportunity. Of course, there's a small element of luck to it, but if you don't put yourself in that place, the dream that somehow someone's going to discover you is just so, so minimal."
THE PURSUIT OF HAPPINESS
“Does it make me happy? I don’t know. Isn’t that the question! I look at my quarantine life right now and I’m surrounded by five cats, zero career, sunshine, food on the table—a simple day-to-day routine with no stress. And I think to myself: Why am I putting myself through this? The rejections, the struggle—why? Is it truly making me happy, and will it? Will I ever be satisfied? When will I have achieved what I want to achieve?"
"And then I think that’s irrelevant, because I can’t help it. Some people, no matter where they think that train is going to end up, they can’t get off that train because they were born to follow that course though. And so irrespective of whether this gives me this great sense of fulfilment or achievement, I can’t not be Sukki Singapora."
Listen to all released episodes and subscribe using your preferred podcast platform on the Crazy Smart Asia hub page.