Local actor Aaron Mossadeg has two family members – Derek Sun and Justin Vanderstraaten – who not only were CLEO Bachelors in the past, but had also walked home with titles from the competition. The cool-headed 26-year-old says he didn’t feel any pressure, but he certainly wasn’t expecting to be named the CLEO Bachelor who’s One To Watch. Read our interview with him here.
First things first – how are you feeling about your win?
Happy, grateful, and relatively shocked.
Because I was chugging a beer backstage before you guys pulled me on stage! (laughs) But honestly, there are so many others in this year’s CLEO Bachelors who are also ‘people to watch’, you know? You’ve got Nikolai, who’s about to drop his EP soon; you’ve got Rajid, who’s blowing up all over Southeast Asia as a rapper, and he’s also been an actor since I first met him back in 2010; then there’s Ryan, who’s a dancer and actor. Like, he was in the movie Wonder Boy! There are many people who are going places, and it makes me all the more happy and proud that I was the one chosen.
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Let’s talk about your cousins, who were also CLEO Bachelors. They both got a title from the competition – was there any pressure for you to bring home a prize as well?
Not really. I mean sure, they’ll say stuff like “you better win something” but that’s just how the family is. Before I went on stage, I saw an Insta story of my brother flipping off a photo of me. (laughs) We’re all meeting up to play football tomorrow – that’s something we do regularly. Well, except for Justin, he recently stopped for a bit because he got his lip pierced for a story he was writing. If the ball hits him in the face, he’s screwed.
That’s a pretty close-knit family you have there.
I guess. We’re definitely closer than most cousins. It helps that we’re all around the same age, and we all like football. Except for my brother.
You’re our One To Watch Bachelor because you’re doing some amazing work as an actor. What’s your most memorable role to date?
Playing Bryan Cordeiro on Faculty.
Yesterday, I was interviewed by a group of NUS undergraduates about how the media's representation of the LGBT community affects public perception of said community. I was approached because of my role as Bryan Cordeiro on #FacultyCh5, a young man on his journey of self-discovery who learns to love and accept himself. It was nostalgic and enjoyable to talk about my experience with Bryan from the audition and acceptance of the role, to filming the scenes and getting feedback about the show from the audience when it aired. It was one of the most fulfilling moments of my career because that's one of the points, right? To drive conversation and debate. Unfortunately, I don't think the representation of the LGBT community in local media will be as frequent and accurate as it should be. It's an issue that goes very high up the chain of command and is very deeply rooted in our culture. On the bright side, I'd like to note that there was no backlash from playing a gay character and the audience feedback felt very positive and empathetic. Maybe there's hope in the future generation. And I'm also proud that Bryan's story made it on to our local television because it is evidence of a step in the right direction. A small step but a step nonetheless.
(mock anger) OMG, you’re just – Faculty was a 20-episode, 45-minute long drama that’s set in a university.
OK FINE. I’M SORRY, I ONLY WATCH NETFLIX.
Haha, but OK back to your question – that role was memorable for me because it was my first main cast role, and I played a gay character.
What? On mainstream media?
Yeah, I had to show that the character is gay, without saying that he’s gay. And judging by the audience feedback, I felt like everyone got that this character is gay.
What was your thought process when you took up this role? Were you nervous about it, since you’re a straight guy playing a gay guy?
I actually auditioned for multiple roles, and I said, “Hey, I want the role of Bryan”. One, it’s a challenge that’ll really flex your acting muscles. Second, I didn’t like how gay characters in local entertainment were being portrayed. Most gay characters shown in local media are caricatures, so my approach was to make it more realistic and not be over-the-top. I was, however, afraid that people might not be able to separate the character from the actor. And that I’d be typecast to always play the buff guy, because Bryan goes to the gym a lot.
Since you’re our One To Watch Bachelor, what can we expect from you in the coming months?
Code of Law is still on for another month or so? Now, I’m wrapping up this comedy on Channel 5 called Fam. It comes out on National Day and you have very big names like Gurmit Singh, Suhaimi Yusof, Vernetta Lopez and Benjamin Kheng. The lead actress is Jermaine Leong, there’s also Richie Koh… oh, and it’s also co-directed by Alaric Tay! There are so many big names, and it’s very fun. It’s also my first time doing comedy, so hopefully it pays off.