Becoming an actor is no easy feat. Dennis shares what it is like to aim for his ultimate dream.
Unlike many aspiring actors who dream of entering the industry, Dennis Sofian stumbled upon it, after heeding his father’s advice.
He was the shy kid who refrained from speaking up in class even as he entered secondary school. When he was 13, his father suggested drama as a co-curricular activity (CCA). Little did he know that picking it up would soon set him on a path towards becoming a professional actor.
For Dennis, being part of drama club in his school made him realise his love for Shakespeare, and how acting serves as an excellent medium for delivering multiple perspectives. When he enlisted in National Service (NS), Dennis, 21, decided he wanted to pursue acting as a career.
He thus joined Singapore Repertory Theatre (SRT), and was part of the main cast in The Laramie Project in 2014, a play that confronts the destructive consequences of bullying. It was, however, a struggle to juggle NS alongside countless of rehearsals and acting classes at SRT.
The fresh-out-of-NS actor shared: “I was in police for NS, and I would go for rehearsals at SRT straight after a night shift. I was very sleep deprived during that time, and even dozed off once or twice during rehearsals. No amount of caffeine could perk me up, but in spite of all that, I was really committed to acting, and just kept pushing on.”
Though Dennis has fully supportive parents and friends, the journey to realising his dream has not been smooth sailing. Being a fresh face in the scene, receiving rejection and criticisms was never easy to handle, as it affirmed the doubt that he could not make it as an actor.
He recently auditioned in March for prestigious drama schools such as LAMDA (London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art) and Guildhall, known for their low acceptance rate, and was rejected. It was a major disappointment for the aspiring actor.
However, Dennis has learnt to take setbacks like these in his stride.
“Whenever I feel like giving up, I keep telling myself that rejection is part and parcel of this. There are so many famous actors now who were rejected countless of times and they kept trying, so it is worth it,” said the former Anglo Chinese junior college student, who spends his free time playing FIFA and the violin.
In April this year, he received a breakthrough. He auditioned for the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama (RCSSD) in London, a university whose alumni include renowned English actors Harold Pinter and Laurence Olivier.
“I had about five days to prepare, and I tried to psych myself into preparing for the worst. 18 of us auditioned for two spots, and we had to perform our pieces in front of each other. Seeing talented people performing before me made me more nervous than I already was,” said Dennis.
He recalled with a grin: “I waited anxiously, and I was on the bus when I got the acceptance email. I screamed because I couldn’t contain my excitement. After getting rejected twice and succeeding on the third try, I was just so thrilled.”
As he prepares for the next leg of his journey at RCSSD in the coming fall, Dennis has doubts about London’s ability to provide him with Asian food. The one dish he will miss as he hones his craft abroad?
“Carrot cake is my jam! Black or white, it doesn’t matter,” said the actor, whose childhood aspiration was to be an explorer who could try all kinds of food in the world. For him, that is just a simple sacrifice before he embarks on an amazing journey in London to realise his dream of becoming a television and movie actor.
Speaking with enthusiasm, Dennis added: “My ultimate dream is to be on some kind of sitcom, like Friends or The Big Bang Theory. But if I could do theatre acting for a living, it would be just as incredible.”
Catch Dennis in The Caucasian Chalk Circle from August 14 to 16 at the Singapore Repertory Theatre. Get your tickets here.
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