THE overwhelming impression that you get of Jaymee Ong is her enthusiastic love for life.
Jaymee has many things in her CV - television presenter, actress, model and qualified yoga instructor - but topping the list is definitely being a mother.
Her three-year-old daughter Juliet is her “greatest achievement”, shares the beaming 34-year-old mother.
“She is such an amazingly beautiful little human being that I am in awe every day that I had something to do with it.”
Born of an Australian-Chinese mixed parentage, Jaymee broke into modelling when she was still in her teens with her good looks.
At 20, Jaymee got her first acting break when she was cast in Jackie Chan’s Gen-X Cops (1999) alongside established Hong Kong actors such as Daniel Wu, Nicholas Tse and Stephen Fung.
The success of Gen-X Cops created a pathway for her to Hollywood where she made a cameo appearance in Pearl Harbour (2011) and several guest appearances in TV series Las Vegas and Entourage. She later moved to Singapore and has been based there since 2004.
Jaymee currently hosts and writes for AXN’s weekly entertainment programme eBuzz where she interviews international celebrities.
With such a busy schedule, how does Jaymee strike a balance between her career and family?
“I always make sure that I make the most of my free time by being with my family, and when I am busy with work, I tell myself to enjoy every minute of it,” she says.
Surprisingly, although she has always wanted to be in the entertainment industry, acting was definitely not her main choice.
“I actually wanted to be a film editor! It was always my dream to be behind the scene,” Jaymee, who studied film and television in high school, exclaims excitedly.
She believes one’s confidence comes from remaining true to oneself. This is the same advice that Jaymee would like to share with aspiring young artistes. “To become a ‘star’, you need to know who you truly are.”
According to Jaymee, her family is extremely close-knit, “We value our time together and above all else, we value one another. My mother is my mentor, whenever I feel lost or needed advice, she is the first person I turn to. She is my pillar of strength and has always been there for me and I will do the same for my daughter.”
Asked about her experience having her first child, she could not contain her excitement, “I was so very nervous but excited at the same time! Who wouldn’t be? I’m talking about the life changing moment of seeing a new life being created and the joy that comes with it. Nothing can prepare you for it, not the books, not the videos and not even your own mother! It is the most challenging but rewarding experience.”
As a working mother with a young child, she opines that the society sometimes puts too much pressure on mothers to become ‘Supermums’ – to have a thriving career while managing a family and looking fabulous doing it. “The expectations can be overwhelming but I’ve learned that the key is prioritising and focusing on things that truly matter in our lives,” notes Jaymee.
She describes her parenting style as a WIP (work-in-progess) mom.
“I learn something new from it every day. I learn to be patient with my child which is crucial because it’s so easy to lose your temper dealing with children. To me, if I can raise a healthy, happy and caring child, I consider that I’ve done a pretty good job.”
She also makes it her priority to set aside romantic time for her husband of five years, electrical engineer Matthew Heath whom she married in 2009.
“We arrange for our ‘date nights’ twice a month. It’s our ‘couple’ time where we go out and enjoy each other’s company, just the two of us when we need,” shares Jaymee.
When it comes to her health, Jaymee, who is a health enthusiast, does not believe in quick fixes and fads.
“Being healthy is a lifestyle. It’s not something that can be achieved through a diet or a detox. Every body and every mind is different, so why do we have to follow what others are doing? It doesn’t mean that if your friend goes for Yoga classes five times a week, you have to follow suit. When you figure out what works and makes you feel great, stick to it. Everyone needs to find their own space and energy.”
Her health mantra? “Balance, balance, balance.”
She doesn’t eat too much nor does she exercise too much. “If I want to indulge, I will, I just know when to stop. I have my cheat days too!” she jokes.
Knowing that health is very important, not just for herself but for her loved ones, Jaymee has always put aside money for insurance protection. “Even when I wasn’t making much money, I’ve always had health insurance. It is very important to protect myself and my family. Without health, you don’t have much,” she puts it plainly.
“So many people get caught up in material things and put health protection in the back seat. These things eat into your savings and do nothing for you when you fall ill. Again it is about priorities and taking a serious look at what matters most and making the right choices,” says Jaymee matter-of-factly.
Health has grown increasingly important among Malaysians in recent years, with regular health screening fast becoming an essential part of their health programme. However, with private healthcare costs steadily rising at an average of 15% annually, quality treatment has become less affordable compared to several years ago.
Therefore one needs to understand the importance of health insurance protection and ensure that the plan chosen has a feature of increasing sum assured to offset the inflation. This increasing benefit feature is found in Great Early Living Care where the sum assured is set to increase up to a maximum of 180% of the initial sum assured, as an effective tool against inflation. A brainchild of Great Eastern Life, the product offers an early critical illness insurance plan with guaranteed premium rates and a wellness programme to reward its customers.
In a recent Stress Management survey conducted by the company, the results indicated that 43% of 446 Malaysian participants experienced high levels of stress in 2014 compared to 2013. Workload was cited by 55% of participants as a key factor of work stress. Apart from stress, lifestyle related habits such as inactivity, smoking and alcohol consumption can have negative impacts on a person’s health and lead to lifestyle diseases. The Malaysian National Health and Morbidity Survey 2011 also revealed that some 5.4 million Malaysian adults aged 18 years and above are overweight while 2.5 million are obese, with 6.2 million suffering from hypercholesterolemia and 5.8 million from hypertension.
These lifestyle health conditions put this group in the high risk category where access to early critical illness coverage is either limited or declined and they may have to fork out considerably more for healthcare protection. For the first time in Malaysia, the unique benefit of the Advantage and Wellness programme is able to offer early critical illness coverage at standard rate to people with borderline or higher elevation and provide the motivation to guide them to a healthier status through a two-year programme.
Ultimately, it is about supporting and motivating people towards the direction of a healthier lifestyle so that they can spend live great moments with their loved ones.
Touching on the topic of living great, Jaymee shares her own definition of ‘Live Great’: “I take taking the necessary actions to ensure that I live my best life ever; whether it be the food I eat, the exercise I do or the health insurance protection that I choose for myself and my family. When you’re healthy, it’s very hard not to be happy!”
This article is courtesy of Great Eastern Life Assurance (Malaysia) Berhad. To find out more, please log on to greateasternlife.com
3 interesting Jaymee facts
1 Even a seasoned TV presenter like Jaymee gets awful stage fright and panics before she goes on stage. Every time. But it goes away soon enough after she steps on the stage.
2 She has extreme fear of bats. Wonder if she watches Batman movies?
3 An honest confession: She’s a Real Housewives junkie!