Chase the dream: Royce Lee

The young man goes all out to live his childhood dream of basking in the limelight.

 Joshua Tan Sheng Yao
Joshua Tan Sheng Yao

Published: 4 June 2015, 10:25 AM

Would you be drawing economic graphs on a filming set in the midst of your ‘A’ level examinations? I doubt so. But that is exactly what 24-year-old Royce Lee did.

The third year business management undergraduate from Singapore Management University (SMU) had always wanted to be in the limelight since he was in primary school.

At the age of 10, he asked his mum to write in to MediaCorp to help him snag a chance to be on television. Lucky for him, he managed to score his first extra role in Mediacorp when he was only 11. He took up other roles as an extra, and even worked with actress Felicia Chin in a drama.

Royce had his first encounter with hosting when he was in Tanjong Katong Secondary School, where his teacher approached him to host the school’s Chinese New Year event. However, he did not put much thought into hosting then as he only wanted to enjoy the limelight on stage.

He only realised his talent for talking and engaging the crowd after he joined the SMU’s Voice Personality Hunt competition in 2012, where he emerged as one of the top eight finalists.

Royce hosting for an Officer Cadet School (OCS) event at RWS SEA Aquarium

Despite not winning the competition, his mentors convinced him that he had the potential and personality to be an excellent host. That was when he started to consider hosting as a serious career option.

You would probably think that the chatty young chap often breezes through his gigs on stage. It turned out to be quite the opposite.

“I still get nervous, even till today. When I first joined the SMU Voice Personality Hunt, it was my first time officially going on stage to talk and they had to literally push me up because I was so nervous,” said Royce.

Working towards his dreams of being a host has not been smooth for Royce. His primary school teachers once thought that he was “crazy” for having such unrealistic dreams, while his real estate parents wanted him to join them in their field, given his flair in talking. Initially, they were skeptical about his freelance hosting gigs, but eventually relented given his success with it thus far.

Royce emceeing for the Passionarts Festival 2014

Hosting did not come entirely easy for Royce too. As he was more proficient in Mandarin, he often had to work hard on improving his English conversational skills.

Royce shared that he watched multiple episodes of The Ellen DeGeneres Show to glean some tips from the popular host, and read more English magazines and newspapers to help him speak more fluently on stage.

Other than working on his hosting skills, Royce also had to sacrifice quality time with his peers and family, due to his hectic working schedule that took up most of his weekends.

He even had to give up the opportunity of going for his school’s exchange programme, as he worried about the hassle of rebuilding his connections and contacts in the industry, especially since he would be away from the scene for five months.

However, Royce’s sacrifices had paid off well, and he has since reeled in an impressive list of achievements.

He got into the Esplanade Youth Emceeing Programme last year, and recently won the SMU Student Life Awards 2015 (Bronze) for his hosting and academic progress.

Royce hosting for Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam Photo credits: Royce Lee

His greatest accomplishment to date? Hosting for Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam during the Nostalgia Jurong event, and for President Tony Tan during SMU’s Patron Day last year.

When asked about what he likes most about being a host, Royce said: “Being on a live stage gives me the satisfaction. When the audience applaud, cheer and laugh, I feel very good.”

Despite his young age, the ambitious man is dreaming big. In five years, he hopes to host a television programme one day, and he is working towards being a household name in the next 10 years.

Before we ended the interview, we asked Royce to share a few words for aspiring hosts. He said: “Stay true to yourself. That’s the most important thing. As an emcee, you always need to be yourself on stage. I’ve seen people who try to be someone else on stage, but in real life they’re not like that and I think that will show some cracks on stage because it’s not genuine.”

Royce is an avid social media user. Do visit his website and catch up with his latest happenings on Instagram (@theroycelee) and on Facebook!

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