‘There is no timeline to success’: How multilingual artiste Das DD got his footing in entertainment

The 33-year-old won his first Mediacorp Star Award in April after eight years in the entertainment industry.

Chloe Tham

Chooses to watch the same three movies in rotation instead of catching a new one.

Published: 1 August 2023, 11:52 AM

In celebration of Youth Month, Youthopia is highlighting stories of youth who have created spark in their life. Multilingual local artiste Das DD, 33, shares how he shattered the glass ceiling and became a trailblazer in the acting industry.

Seated before a range of cameras and filming equipment is a local actor dressed in a bright blue button-up coupled with a relaxed demeanour.

He takes a sip of water before interacting with the film crew in a mixture of English and Mandarin. One would likely have envisioned a Chinese actor taking the interview seat just from how smoothly he switches between the languages.

Instead, he is Indian host and actor Dharmadasa D Dharamahsena – better known to most as Das DD.

The 33-year-old artiste had recently made history by becoming the first non-Chinese to win in the performance category throughout Star Awards’ 28-year run. Das was crowned the Best Rising Star for his role as a host on the Chinese television program, #JustSwipeLah.

But beyond making history, Das’ achievements also positions Das as a trailblazer, opening doors for those with similar aspirations in the industry.

A polyglot, Das also speaks Tamil and Malay on top of his fluency in English and Mandarin. However, he shares that his multilingual capabilities were not intentionally developed.

“I learned Tamil when I was young. That was the first language I learned at home. Then I learned English and Mandarin concurrently when I went to kindergarten because at that point of time, (the school) didn’t offer Tamil as a Mother Tongue,” he says.

As for the Malay language, he sheepishly admits that he was overconfident with his proficiency when he first started. 

He had naively believed that the ability to speak a few words meant having mastered the entire language. This was until he was told otherwise.

“Malay people took the opportunity to correct me when I was wrong, and that’s how I slowly expanded my vocabulary,” he shares, adding that National Service also gave him an opportunity to brush up on it.


Das had started learning Mandarin since kindergarten, as Tamil was not offered at his school. PHOTO CREDIT: YOUTHOPIA/TIANA QUEK


Das’ multilingualism would eventually open doors for him in the professional realm. His first foray into the media industry was through radio. Concurrently, he pursued stand-up comedy, hosting and commercial modelling.

After landing a few roles in Mediacorp dramas, he was finally presented the opportunity to be in a Chinese movie – Reunion Dinner. Das was quick to jump at the chance, equating the move to being “thrown into the deep end”.

Admittedly, the initial stages of preparation were filled with self-doubt and hesitation. Das had felt intimidated as he was acting alongside many industry veterans. There was constant worry that his command of the Chinese language was not up to speed.

“But, nobody discouraged me. The only person that was discouraging me was myself,” reveals Das. 

“Sometimes we have these thoughts where we feel like we’re never good enough and we project it onto ourselves.”

“On the second day when I decided to speak to the veterans, I realised that they were all very kind and encouraging, and I really had no reason to be so hard on myself,” he adds.

After filming the movie, Das went on a Chinese variety programme #JustSwipeLah as part of promotional efforts. The following week, he received a call from the show’s producer and was given the opportunity to host it moving forward.

With a few friends’ encouragement, he took a leap of faith and accepted the project. His role on the programme would eventually lead to his Star Awards accolade – one that he thinks is a testament to his hard work.


Das received the Best Rising Star award after eight years in the industry. PHOTO CREDIT: INSTAGRAM/DASDYL


“This award is very similar to a newcomer’s award, which other people would probably win in their early twenties. But I think that we should never ever peg success to age.”

“A lot of people, when they’re in their late twenties, they start saying, ‘Oh, it’s too late’. But why are you saying all these things? Who actually told you that you’re too late to start?”

Today, Das continues to tap on his multilingual abilities beyond his hosting and acting gigs. He sees himself as an online personality as much as a local artiste.

Through his short-form content, some created as part of his current stint at local media agency SGAG, he tries to connect with people from all walks of life.

“Within one video, I can reach out to most of the demographics in Singapore – the young ones, slightly older ones, and people who have a sense of humour,” he says.


Das frequently involves his mother in the short skits posted on his social media pages. PHOTO CREDIT: SCREENSHOT FROM INSTAGRAM/@DASDYL


Alongside his professional endeavours, Das had also channelled his language skills to serving the community. Back when he had just finished school, he volunteered his time at a Meet-the-People Session (MPS). 

That was where Das realised that his languages came in handy. He served as an interpreter and helped translate the issues residents were facing to the MPS team.

“Sometimes I can empathise with people who can’t speak English, so when they go out and realise that not many people understand what they are saying, it can be quite hurtful and lonely.”

“I hope that the little gift that I have has helped people feel heard,” he says.

Moving forward in his career, Das hopes to be in more movies and share insights with younger people who are interested in what he does.

“In this industry, this is not a very mainstream job. It does take a lot of grit to achieve what you want to achieve. You’ll be able to reap the rewards, but you will not know when because there is no timeline to success.”
He also urges youths to harness their talents and find ways to contribute to the larger good.

“We all have a little gift. It may not be languages in your case but find your gift and see if you can give back to society.”

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