Make no mistake, Beatrice Chia-Richmond is a megawatt creative talent. As if being an actress and director aren’t enough, her impressive CV includes being the creative director of the National Day Parades in 2011 and 2016, as well as the South-east Asian Games in 2015.
After launching her acting career in the Donny Lee Show and appearing in local TV productions like Triple Nine from 1998 to 2001, Bea directed Shopping and F**king that same year, which clinched her a Best Director honour.
“I never like to pretend that being a working parent is a walk in the park, because it is NOT!”
After a long hiatus of 15 years from acting, Bea returned to the small screen last year in Mediacorp Channel 5 drama BRA playing breast cancer-stricken oncologist. She says simply, “I wanted to rediscover some of my first loves.”
She may have won accolades in not just directing but also acting in a very tough industry, yet Bea acknowledges that of all the hats she wears, motherhood is the most challenging. “It is not a short-term project!”
Neither does she sugar-coat the truth, admitting that she juggles her multiple roles, “With great difficulty. I never like to pretend that being a working parent is a walk in the park, because it is NOT!”
Because her work is of an inconsistent nature, Bea somehow manages it all, “With intense planning, the understanding of the teams I work with and without doubt, the support of family who all play their part willingly and lovingly.”
Indeed, she is grateful for the “incredible support” of her village, which comprises her parents and in-laws. “They never hesitate to offer their help, happily and lovingly.”
Sol is preparing to take the Primary School Leaving Examination (PSLE) next year, but the family is taking this milestone in their stride. Asked how she and Mark are approaching their son’s PSLE, Bea quips, “We are very, very chill ― like a good fridge!”
Asked about her offspring’s academic performance, the supportive mum has this to say, “Our only aim is to help Sol get into the Secondary school of his choice ― his grades are only as important as that. At this stage, Sol’s choices are usually where his friends/classmates are going.”
SmartParents catches up with the vivacious mum to find out what she has been up to with her family.
Hi Beatrice! How have you and your family been doing?
WONDERFULLY! Fortunately, we have been doing well. The last 12 years of family life have been a non-stop ride of love, surprises, wonder and, of course, great challenges.
What’s a typical day like for you?
I wake by 6.30am to send Sol to school. After that, it is different for each day as it depends on which project I am on. So, good luck to me!
How similar or different are you and Marks’ parenting styles? Who’s the stricter one?
Our parenting styles reflect our personalities. I am usually calmer, while Mark can be a lot more expressive. But I think this is a nice balance for Sol.
Both you and Mark are in the creative arts and Mark is also into sports ― what about Sol?
Sol loves music deeply and we are very glad for that. He also loves playing golf and we play it often together as a family.
Do you think Sol has inherited your creativity and passion for the arts?
He is creative ― actually, I believe we all are!
You’ve mentioned in the past that Sol inherited his restlessness and outgoing nature from you, and his humour and activeness from Mark. Is this still true?
The restlessness is less apparent these days as he plays quite a lot of sport and I believe that has helped focus a lot of his energies and attention. The humour is always there, thankfully! And he cracks us up with his cheeky and hilarious comments.
Is your son academically inclined or a more sporty type?
I think he has a nice balance of both.
Sol should be in Primary 5 now ― is he in a local school and how has he been coping?
Yes, he is in a local school as both Mark and I were. He enjoys school very much and has never asked us for a day off from school. That is enough for both Mark and myself.
He should be taking his PSLE next year ― is he stressed?
He is taking his PSLE next year and we have told him that the PSLE year does not have to be different from any other year in school. Our thinking behind this has been if he is consistent every year at schoolwork, then the PSLE year should be no different.
Sol will be a teenager soon ― what is his personality like?
Sol has a very gentle nature, with innate kindness and thoughtfulness. A number of my friends have described him as “sweet” and told me not to let that “sweetness” in his personality be snuffed out, as more and more, it is a rare quality.
You work on many creative projects ― where do you usually get your inspiration from?
From life, people and the world.
What was the hardest project you’ve worked on so far?
All were intensely challenging but the Opening and Closing Ceremonies of the South-East Asian Games were probably the most challenging by far. Having said that, these projects were also deeply rewarding and I learnt so much from them.
Are you working on any projects at the moment?
Yes, I am working on various projects at the moment, but unfortunately, all are embargoed till a certain date, so I am unable to share the exciting details for now!
“Don’t waste time on guilt. It doesn’t help you or your family.”
As a working mum, do you feel a lot of mum guilt when you’re busy working?
I used to feel a lot of guilt until I saw how proud Sol was of me and my work. These days, I discuss my work with him and he has surprisingly mature views about it. I would like for him to witness how his Dad and I approach our work with passion. We hope for the same for him.
You’ve mentioned that it frustrates you when you “can’t be 110 per cent about work or motherhood” ― have you found a balance that works for you?
I’m afraid that balance is always a work-in-progress... So, still frustrated, I guess!
Any advice for other busy working mums?
Don’t waste time on guilt ― it doesn’t help you or your family.
Do you try and arrange alone time with Sol ― what do you like doing as mum and son?
We like to just talk, laugh and hang out.
What’s your idea of a perfect date night with Mark?
Mark is my favourite person to hang out with, apart from Sol. It could be something as simple as having a meal, uninterrupted, watching a movie or getting a couple’s massage together.
How about family travel ― what places have you been?
We travel a lot as a family. At least four times a year, from short trips to Bali, to ski trips in Japan or longer trips to Europe, US and Australia. We have been travelling with Sol since he was 6 months old and we intend to continue as much as we can.
Any plans to expand your family?
We are very happy the way we are ― life couldn’t be fuller or better!
Please fill in the blanks:
* If I wasn’t an actress/director/creative director, I would be… A doctor.
* My guilty pleasure is… Online SHOPPING!
* My favourite film is… The English Patient.
* The most romantic gift Mark has given me is… Far too many to name!
* As a parent, I’m great at… Organising great holidays.
* As a parent, I wish I were better at… Domestic chores.
* The hardest part about being a mum is… Staying awake.
* One thing I hope Sol inherits from me is… My constant curiosity about the world and Mark’s… Great optimism.
* A country I’d like to visit with my family is… Argentina.
* A family that eats together chows down on… MILKSHAKES!
Photos: Instagram/Beatrice Chia-Richmond; Instagram/Mark Richmond; Beatrice Chia-Richmond
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