Glenn Yong spills the tea on being backstabbed & belittled by those in showbiz with his new song

No names named, sorry.

Lee Wei Lin | July 30, 2022, 11:07 AM

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They say a song is more than just words on paper, and that couldn’t be more true for Singaporean actor-singer Glenn Yong’s first English single “UP UP”.

With lines such as “They look down on me, money over family” and “Said you got my back, but where you all be at”, one might think that he’s got a bone to pick.

We’d be lying if we say that we aren’t curious about who inspired these lyrics, but the “Ah Girls Go Army” actor tells Mothership that rather than calling out these individuals, he wants to tell those who are dealing with similar situations that the best way to prove naysayers wrong is to show them you can achieve what you set out to do.

In short, this isn’t a shaming session.

Rather, the 25-year-old hopes that talking about his experiences will shed light on the goings-on behind the glittery facade of showbiz, and to tell those who are going through a difficult time that as bleak as things seem, that you can always pick yourself up.

The good, the bad and the ugly

Yong condensed his four years of showbiz experiences into the lyrics for the song.

“It’s the things that I’ve been through, such as people not believing in my dreams, or saying certain things to discourage me from pursuing these goals,” he explained.

That includes those in showbiz.

“This is the reality I went through and I wrote the song in the hope that anyone who has been through tough times, has been disrespected or put down, can relate to and hopefully know that things will look up for you.”

We prod further, and he agreed to tell us some of the things he’s been through with those in the biz -- without any finger-pointing, of course.

Learning things the hard way

The local showbiz circle is a small one, and word gets around quickly, Yong explained.

You hear a lot from the grapevine, and some of these things caused his former friendships to fall apart.

Those whom he treated as close friends would badmouth him behind his back -- even telling others how they think his goals are “too ambitious”.

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A post shared by Glenn Yong 容启航 (@glennyqh)

Instead of asking them why they were doing this, Yong distanced himself from them.

“I'm not a very confrontational person,” he explained.

Not knowing that Yong had found out, these people reached out to him to catch up.

“I basically told them, ‘I think you know what you did, and that’s why I’m keeping a distance,' and the funny thing is they never asked me what I was referring to,” Yong shrugged.

“It’s heartbreaking, but I don’t think I can be close with someone who does that.”

The saboteur

Yong was devastated when he found out that a former close friend was sabotaging him.

He recounted,

“They were trying to sow discord and cause my relationships with others in the industry to fail. It was heartbreaking because I thought they had my back, but they were burning the bridges I had with others.”

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A post shared by Glenn Yong 容启航 (@glennyqh)

After their friendship ended, Yong says the person went around “attacking” just about everyone around him, which includes “mutual friends, colleagues and fans” for months.

Questioning why a former close friend would go to such lengths, he felt “shocked” and “sad” about how things turned out.

Attempts to reach out came to naught, and he eventually gave up because he felt that there was “no point in trying any more”.

When asked if this close friend had anything to do with the police report he made in March about an anonymous hater who was harassing him and those around him on Instagram, Yong declined comment.

Crossing the line

Getting hate comments is unfortunately part and parcel of being a public figure, but one comment, Yong told us, was so hurtful that he remembers it vividly: someone once told him in his face that his family has “no money, connections nor power."

The actor's dad is a tour guide who pivoted to becoming a private-hire driver during the pandemic, and his mum is a home-based baker.

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A post shared by Glenn Yong 容启航 (@glennyqh)

View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Glenn Yong 容启航 (@glennyqh)

He explained, “As a public figure I accept that there will be hate comments directed towards me, but these were very personal words about my family."

It didn’t help that he was friends with the said person.

"This comment has stuck with me all the way till I wrote 'UP UP', which is why I included ‘money over family’ in the lyrics.

There are people around us who are belittled or judged based on their background, social status or other factors that aren’t representative of who you are and what you can do."

Distancing himself from negativity

It’s also because of these experiences that he now draws a clear line between his work and personal lives.

“Let’s be honest, there’s a lot of gossip that goes around in the industry but I’m not someone who enjoys it. My mentality is that ignorance is bliss because you won’t view others based on what you hear about them.”

While he still enjoys friendly banter with colleagues, he makes it a point to stay away from gossip and distances himself from the conversation if the subject turns to hearsay – instead, he would rather listen to music, pore over his script and read on his Kindle during work breaks.

While this has caused some to misinterpret his behaviour as unfriendly or standoffish, he’s chosen this as the lesser evil.

Even so, he has managed to find some kindred spirits in the industry whom he considers his close friends.

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A post shared by Glenn Yong 容启航 (@glennyqh)

A rough start

It didn’t help that Yong’s self-worth was affected when he first joined the biz.

He shared that industry seniors would intentionally misguide him and lash out if he didn't listen to them.

“It's really sad because I honestly thought I could learn from them. Some of the things that they said to others in the industry blocked off opportunities for me,” the actor continued.

They would also try to chip away at Yong’s confidence by telling him that he would “never be a male lead” or “never be more than a calefare” if he didn’t follow their every word -- including instructions on how he should act, look, wear, carry himself, the mindset he should have, and even who he was allowed to speak to.

It’s these discouraging words that led to Yong once believing that he didn’t have what it takes to be a stereotypical Singaporean male lead.

He shrugged,

“I was rather new then, so whatever my seniors tell me carried a lot of weight. To me, these people are experienced and know what they're talking about. But after a while, I realised the world is changing. Not everything that works in the past would work now, you know?”

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A post shared by Glenn Yong 容启航 (@glennyqh)

There have also been those in the industry who treat Yong like their own, guiding him along the way so that he doesn’t walk down the wrong path, and those who have given him opportunities in spite of everything.

That’s especially so when they stand up for him whenever they hear people talking bad about him, pointing out that they know him personally and can attest to the fact that he’s not what some have made him out to be.

“There have been seniors who told me at the end of the production that they were glad that they didn’t listen to naysayers and engaged me anyway,” Yong explained. “They told me that I’m nothing like how others have painted me.”

There are also seniors and friends in the industry who would always put in good words for the young star, linking him up to more opportunities because they genuinely want to see him blossom.

The silver lining

With this much doom and gloom happening to a rookie in his early 20s, it’s a testament to his perseverance that he’s achieved everything that he has today.

Yong has not one, but two lead roles (Channel 8 drama “Live Your Dreams” and the “Ah Girls Go Army” movies) under his belt, released his first English single and music video, has an ever-growing list of endorsements, and recently held his first in-person fan-meeting with over 400 fans.

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A post shared by Glenn Yong 容启航 (@glennyqh)

He admitted with a laugh that it “looked like a dumb decision” to stand by his principles when he was wet behind the ears, but averred that he is “someone that knows very clearly what (he) wants, and the direction that (he’s) going for”.

Despite knowing that making his own choices was a risky decision, he held on to one conviction:

“As long as you work hard and you have what it takes, nothing and nobody can stop you from achieving your goals. Regardless of who tries to stand in your way, those who see your potential will still give you a chance to prove yourself.”

Did his decision cost him? Yes, and no.

While Yong has lost opportunities, he is at peace with where his choices have led him today: he is proud of what he's achieved and where he is in life.

Although he’s been through his fair share of hurtful experiences, he’s decided to be the bigger person because he doesn’t want to harbour hate against anyone.

Rather than spending time and energy on negative feelings towards someone else, he says he would rather channel it to better himself – both as a person and in his career.

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A post shared by Glenn Yong 容启航 (@glennyqh)

View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Glenn Yong 容启航 (@glennyqh)

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Top photos from Glenn Yong's Instagram