Meet Cheryl K, The Malaysian-Born Singer On The ‘Crazy Rich Asians’ Soundtrack

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FEMALE: What caught your attention about the casting call and what made you decide to audition?

Cheryl: “There was a worldwide casting audition video announcement on YouTube by Director Jon M. Chu that went viral. There was a script on their website to download and read out in your audition tape and all we had to do was post it on social media and hope for the best. I wanted to audition because I thought I might actually have a decent shot since they were mostly looking for Asians with possibly a Malaysian or Singaporean accent. I was born and raised in Malaysia and my mother is Singaporean so I naturally already have that accent. With that in mind, I decided to give it a try even though acting is pretty new to me and I was honestly embarrassed with my video so I almost took it down from YouTube.

In the casting video, we were not asked to sing, just act. I did not know we could audition for a potential singing role either. Nobody did.  However, they did ask us to show a hidden talent but the video had to be within 2 minutes, including the given script which took up most of the video. So, knowing that singing is my forte, I was able to squeeze in 15 seconds singing an a cappella rendition of Jessie J’s Mamma Knows Best. And that was enough for me to be discovered and book the Opening Title Screen & Ending Credits songs of the movie.”

F: What happened next?

C: “I uploaded and posted my video in February of 2017. I did not hear anything for almost a whole year until January this year when I received an email followed by a call from Warner Bros. Pictures asking me if I was interested in possibly singing a song for the movie. I remember leaping and screaming with joy at the sound of that and later discovered that the director himself, Jon M. Chu was the one who requested for me to do it after watching my audition tape. He told me that it was his assistant, Ashley Eakin who saw my video and told him that he had to watch it. Initially, they didn’t think they needed a singer but kept me in mind. So when the opportunity came, Jon told me they were like, “Where’s that woman? We need to get her.””

F: What was your first impression of the song?

C: “I loved it. I recognised the song and I knew right away that it was my genre and a great representation of my vocal capabilities. I loved how they even included Mandarin words in this version and I get to sing it with soulful growls (which isn’t very common among Mandarin songs).”

F: The last track in the soundtrack features you singing the same song in English and with the addition of Awkwafina rapping along. What was it like working with her?

C: “A dream come true. Awkwafina recorded her rap separately from me because she was in New York at the time for Oceans 8. I only got to finally meet her in person during one of the photo shoots. Jon was so fun to work with in the recording studio! He gave me a lot of pointers and tips. I remember him saying, “Cheryl, I want you to growl as much as you can and sing with your greatest energy because I want people to feel like they want to jump out of their seats during the Opening of the movie.” We also took many fun photos and boomerangs together inside the recording booth.”

Photo: Instagram @cherylkapuchinana

F: How did you break the news to your friends and family back home?

C: “I actually had to keep the news quiet for a couple months until I got the green light to announce publicly. Of course I told my family about it when I first found out and they were incredibly happy for me. I think I spam- called my mom at her 3am in the morning (because of the time difference) so when she woke up, she called me back only to hear me squealing and jumping for joy over the phone.”

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