Winsome Wincci

Beauty queen-turned-entertainer, Wincci Soo, has her sights set on the bright lights of Hollywood.

MY whole body hurts,” Wincci Soo says, flexing an arm as she parks her lanky 170cm frame on a couch.

She says the soreness is a result of aerial and pole dancing – pursuits she has undertaken in an effort to stay fit.

“They’re both pretty extreme, but I like a challenge,” says Soo, who entered the entertainment scene after she won the Miss World Malaysia title in 2008. Her tenacity and do or die attitude has helped her gain a firm foothold in both the music and television industries.

Having her will: It’s do or die foractress and singer Wincci Soo, who isdetermined to make it big in Hollywood.

The talented 27-year-old from Selangor says that aeriel dancing, which involves exploring vertical and horizontal movement paths while dangling from the ceiling, helps increase her flexibility. Meanwhile, pole dancing helps increase her core strength and tones her muscles.

“I used to have terrible flexibility when I was younger. I also used to be obese and was an outcast in school,” says Soo.

Well, the fit-as-a-fiddle miss can do a mean split now. Activities like dancing also keep her in top form.

But even for the genetically-blessed likes of Soo, smouldering good looks don’t come for free. Aside from the aching muscles, Soo’s hands are calloused, while her limbs are marked with bruises from her gruelling workouts.

Despite the discomfort, Soo was very much her cheery, upbeat self when she dropped by The Star’s office in Petaling Jaya, Selangor, on a recent afternoon.

She channels her zest for life on stage.

“I’m constantly pushing my limits. Like when I perform, I like to constantly experiment with new things. I can sing and dance both at once, but I would like to try things like singing while I’m dangling upside down,” she shares excitedly.

“I’m quite kiasu, so I constantly strive for self-improvement.”

Last year, Soo took up vocal-training lessons with renowned London-based session singer and pop vocal coach Kim Chandler in the European city. She says her experience with Chandler, who has coached the likes of Sarah Brightman and Westlife, was a real eye-opener. Aside from vocal training, Soo also holds certificates in piano and composing.

Her latest album, In My Heart (the repackaged version of her 2011 first full-length album Ying Guang, which means Wincci Shines) channels her solid determination.

The record, which plays with the concept of angels-and-demons showcases Soo’s different sides. More importantly, it reflects her progress as an artiste.

“It’s more womanly than it is girly,” she says, adding that it draws on her current state of being. Her signature long locks are also noticeably missing here, with her sporting a short bob. (She later tells us it’s a wig.)

Already the titular track of the record has been on steady rotation on local Chinese radio stations. Meanwhile, singles like Li Kai Da Ni De Nan Ren (Leave The Man Who Hits You), brims with feminine prowess and ebullience.

“I want to tell women to be strong and independent. Do not love someone blindly,” she cautions.

She also took up a Masterclass course at the London Film Academy last year.

“I wanted to study acting more intricately,” she explains.

She adds a dash of butt-kicking dynamism to her tough cookie persona with wushu.

“I picked up the sport for fitness purposes at first, but I went on to do performances,” Soo says.

She hopes her deftness in the art will give her an edge in potential action film roles.

“Starring in a martial arts film is one of my dreams,” she enthuses.

Soo’s works in television include Injustice (2010) and Destiny In Her Hand (2011) with Singapore’s Mediacorp. Next up, Soo will appear in Asia’s first 3D horror movie, Hunter, in which she plays a famous host. She is also composing the theme song for the Bjarne Wong film, slated for release this year.

That’s not all, the busy bee also plays the lead role in Start Good Ends Good with Hong Kong’s Daniel Chan. The film is due to be released next year.

Currently, Soo has her eye set on the Taiwan market.

“If everything goes to plan, I’ll be leaving in October and start building a career there from early next year.”

Her fans here can still get a glimpse of their idol before she departs for the East Asian capital. “I’ll be having a mini farewell concert around June or August,” she reveals.

The ambitious lass says her ultimate goal is to go to Hollywood. But being a seasoned player in showbiz, Soo is all too realistic about the hardships that entail her stellar dreams.

“Nowadays, there is no such thing as getting discovered on the streets and being asked to star in a film.

“If you want something, you have to work hard to get it. If I don’t set a target, then I’ll be stuck here forever,” she confides.

Besides Taiwan, Soo’s game plan also includes making a mark in the entertainment scenes in Hong Kong and China.

“I want to go to Hollywood but I know I won’t be able to go there directly, which is why I’m trying to slowly establish myself in these Asian markets first,” Soo divulges.

“I’ve noticed that Hollywood has been using Asian talents because they want to appeal to the Chinese or Asian market, but they only use a select few and they’re usually those who are already big stars in Asia. So I think everything is about ‘valuation’ and I need to get that first. I’m doing it step-by-step.”

Is there anyone in Hollywood that Soo aspires to be? “Natalie Portman!” she quips instantly.

Portman took home an Oscar award for her portrayal as a troubled ballerina in Black Swan last year. “I would love to star in artsy movies like Black Swan.

“I am also inspired by Datuk Michelle Yeoh,” she says. “It’s really not easy for a Malaysian to make it big in Hollywood because when you’re out there, it’s a different culture. But I think Michelle Yeoh has done it.”

Making it big on the silver screen isn’t the only thing that Soo has in mind. She is also undertaking a PhD course in business, a pursuit she hopes to complete by age 30. She graduated with a law degree in 2007. A year later, Soo obtained a Masters in Business Administration.

“Of course it’s a struggle having to juggle both my career and studying. But if I give up now, I will let a lot of people down and their expectations of me will drop.”

But even her willpower could not save her flailing relationship. “I had to sacrifice my love life. I broke up with my boyfriend because of my career,” she admits.

The optimistic entertainer hastens to add: “I’m fully focused on my goals now and there’s hardly room for anything else. I probably won’t get married before I achieve my goals.

“Hopefully, I can find someone after that. The good ones all seem to be taken.”