Sylvia Chan, a Singaporean YouTuber and co-founder of video production company Night Owl Cinematics (NOC), has apologised two weeks after allegations against her first aired on social media.
On Oct. 13, she posted a lengthy apology to her Instagram page, stating that she had not lived up to the standards expected of her.
Chan was first accused of verbally abusing employees and fostering a toxic workplace culture by anonymous Instagram account @sgcickenrice.
The allegations against Chan were revealed in a series of screen shots of text conversations and audio recordings.
Says she did not live up to standards as a leader
In her apology, Chan acknowledged that she had disappointed the people around her, admitting that there were times when her emotions got the better of her.
She said that while her words might have been harsh, it was never her intention to upset anyone.
Chan added that she had not lived up to the expectations people and her employees have of her as a leader, and as such, had also failed to abide by NOC's culture code to "give feedback openly and kindly and to receive with good faith".
"I assumed that my behaviour were [sic] accepted fully by the people around me. Upon reflection, I may have failed to provide the safe space for my colleagues to give me feedback."
She continued that she had the impression that as a leader of NOC, she had to be "tough", but might have "come on too strong" instead and gave the impression that she was unkind and rude.
"This is a difficult but much needed lesson for me to learn about management and leadership," she said.
Chan also apologised to her teams, adding that she is "saddened" if their work was "undermined by my past actions", and promised to do better.
Clarified vulgarities used against NOC talent
Chan also directly addressed the allegations of her verbal abuse towards a specific talent, a woman named Samantha Tan.
Screenshots of a private conversation between Chan and another employee showed the former calling Tan "f*cking dumb", "f*cking annoying" and a "f*ckface", as well as requesting an "exit strategy" for her.
It was revealed that the conversations took place in late 2019 and early 2020, with Chan clarifying that Tan was a contestant and the eventual winner of a NOC reality show.
However, it turned out that Tan had an existing bond with a government agency, which prevented her from signing a full-time contract with NOC, touted as the grand prize of the show.
Chan explained that she was upset "as I felt that everything we did in the show was for nothing, since she would not be able to win the grand prize anyway".
"In my anger, I made my sentiments clear so that other contestants, who would be able to join us as a full-time content creator, can have the opportunity," she said.
Admitting that her venting to her colleague may have sounded like she was bullying Tan, Chan said it was not her intention to "harm, abuse or discriminate against her or anyone".
"Whatever I shared to my colleagues do not represent what I feel about her as a person but towards the situation."
She and Tan have apparently made peace over the recent allegations, Chan claimed.
Chan to be "removed from lineup of artistes"
Additionally, Chan urged everyone to "give NOC the time and space to do what is necessary", and for the public to continue their support of the company.
"It is heartbreaking to see NOC, a company which has provided love and laughter to its audience and a stellar track record of campaigns for clients for almost 10 years, be taunted by an anonymous account intent to cancel and destroy them through this campaign against me. It is equally soul wrenching to helplessly witness brands and creators who have worked with me get harassed by association. I hope that this would stop."
In recent days, videos put up by NOC on their YouTube channel have received comparatively more downvotes, despite it being a regular food review vlog.
Moving forward, Chan revealed that she will be "removed from NOC's lineup of artistes".
"I agree alongside with the leadership team, that as a talent and content creator, I do not deserve the current job opportunities NOC offers. Hence, I will take time to reflect."
However, it is unclear if Chan remains in a leadership position in the company as she effectively co-founded it with her ex-husband, Ryan Tan in 2013.
The couple finalised their divorce in 2020.
You can view Chan's full apology here:
I would like to first apologise for taking some time to respond to everyone about the saga which started 14 days ago. For those who do not know, I was alleged to be rude and had used vulgarities on my friends and colleagues.
"Were these claims taken out of context? Were they private conversations? Am I penalized today for what I might have said in my 20s?" When all these went through my mind the last 2 weeks, my only wish was my side of the story to be heard before anyone judged me.
But then, it dawned upon me. It does not matter. What matters most is the fact that I did not live up to the standards expected of me. Regardless of the situation or context, I acknowledge that I have disappointed people around me. I did not step up to the standards that I should have upheld, and I have instances where my emotions overrule my better judgement.
Upon reflection, my expressions may have been harsh. However, it was never my intention to upset anyone. I will learn to be more conscious about my choice of words. Moving forward, I can and I will do better.
It has been my honour to be here, to use this digital space to showcase myself creatively: to act and host, to fronting for so many amazing brands. I also benefited from the influence I have in this favored position and I have used this influence to do the best I can to give back especially to youth, women and mental health causes over the years. And I do realise how disappointing it must be to those who have given me a chance to champion for them. Again, I will do better.
As life would have it, I am now leading NOC, a media company with great people delivering quality work with established brands to impact the lives of so many audiences. At times, I resented the responsibilities and pressures that come with it. But, I recognise that it was by the grace and favor of the people around me - my teams, my talents, my clients, my audience, that | was given the chance to be in such a coveted position. And I am grateful for it.
So many people are supporting me, believing in me and placing their trust in me. For some of you, I even have your jobs, your livelihoods, your commitments in my hands; and I truly am sorry if I did not step up to the standards you expect from a leader.
My biggest shame in this episode is that I have failed to model the newly minted culture code of NOC: "To give feedback openly and kindly and to receive with good faith." and "To make decisions for the collective good."
I assumed that my behaviour were accepted fully by the people around me. Upon reflection, I may have failed to provide the safe space for my colleagues to give me feedback.
I was driven by work and did not think of how it would affect the bigger picture. I always thought that a leader should be tough and I now realise, that I may have come on too strong, and people have now perceived me to be unkind and rude. This is a difficult but much needed lesson for me to learn about management and leadership.
I am saddened if the good character and excellent work of my teams are now being undermined by my past actions. I have had the honor of working with great people who commit their talents for the content NOC delivers.
For my teams, I am sorry and I promise to do better. I thank all of you for supporting the company despite the shortcomings of your leader.
It is heartbreaking to see NOC, a company which has provided love and laughter to its audience and a stellar track record of campaigns for clients for almost 10 years, be taunted by an anonymous account intent to cancel and destroy them through this campaign against me. It is equally soul wrenching to helplessly witness brands and creators who have worked with me get harassed by association. I hope that this would stop.
My plea is please, give NOC the time and space to do what is necessary. Everyone is badly affected by the Covid pandemic and times are already challenging. I hope that nobody else will be dragged through the mud. Please also do not encourage attacks behind the scenes to harass these innocent parties. The livelihood of many of the members of the teams and their families are being affected, and this saddens me greatly.
With regards to Samantha Tan's incident in late 2019 and early 2020, I realized that it truly seemed like I was bullying a subordinate. For this incident, I need to clarify because I will own up for using strong language. But it has never ever been my intention to harm, abuse or discriminate against her or anyone.
For clarity, Samantha was a contestant and the eventual winner of NOC's reality show KNOCkout. She performed really well, so much so that she advanced into the finals. However, it was only late into production that I found out she had an existing three year bond with a government agency and would not be able to sign a full-time contract with us, which was the grand prize of the show.
As the executive producer, that really upset me as I felt that everything we did in the show was for nothing, since she would not be able to win the grand prize anyway. In my anger, I made my sentiments clear so that other contestants, who would be able to join us as a full-time content creator, can have the opportunity.
I vented to my colleagues behind the scenes in private conversations with them. Samantha is kind and talented - there are no doubts about that. During the same period, Samantha also messaged me for help as a talent. On a personal level, I offered advice to her on how to be a better content creator as that to me was separate from the competition. Whatever I shared to my colleagues do not represent what I feel about her as a person but towards the situation. Recently, Samantha has graciously reached out to me and made peace.
I do not lament everything that has happened. These mistakes are mine to learn. I seek the chance to do better moving forward. I do care for the companies and partners I work with, I do care for our audiences. I care for the people who believe in our work and support us.
Therefore, moving forward, I will be removed from NOC's lineup of artistes. I agree alongside with the leadership team, that as a talent and content creator, I do not deserve the current job opportunities NOC offers. Hence, I will take time to reflect. My only request is to give allowance for NOC to fulfill those which has already been completed. And to the rest of the audiences, who have supported and enjoyed my work with NOC, I hope you continue supporting them as they continue to produce content you love.
Lastly, to all who have placed your faith in me and felt disappointed with me by the allegations made against me, I am truly sorry. I promise to become kinder, more patient and more thoughtful. Thank you.
NOC previously released a statement addressing the allegations on Oct. 11.
The company claimed that the narrative on social media was cherry-picked and only had "one purpose", which apparently was to "harm the good name" of NOC.
It also stressed that it has persevered to create a "safe environment" for its artistes and employees to express themselves in a creative and responsible manner.
It acknowledged that inevitable discourse in expectations will create rifts that are "sometimes irreconcilable", relating it with "any fast-paced organisation which embraces innovation".
However, it added that NOC's internal standards call for a "high degree of professionalism, discipline and collaboration" for its teams.
According to the statement, NOC said it will pursue legal avenues to "achieve justice" for NOC, and a lawyer's letter was subsequently sent to @sgcickenrice to cease and desist.
Following this development, @sgcickenrice updated that law firm Eugene Thuraisingam LLP will be representing them pro bono.
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Top photo from sylsylnoc / IG