Jayson Phuah is a 27-year-old Malaysian actor and performing arts practitioner based in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
He is most known for his role as Aladdin in Enfiniti Academy’s productions from 2015 & 2016. Up till recently, he was working remotely as a creative assistant for the New Group – a Broadway Theatre company – located in New York City, in the United States.
Jayson’s fostered a love for the stage since he was six years old, when he starred as the Prince in his kindergarten’s adaptation of Snow White.
Since then, he’s starred in several productions and commercials. Some of which included being a part of Andrea Bocelli’s concert choir in 2015, playing a lead role in “MUD: The Story of Kuala Lumpur” and another role in a show called “A Language Of Their Own”.
We’re proud that Jayson’s a part of our Enfiniti Academy Alumni, as he has accomplished so much. Enjoy a video snippet of the full interview below.
Tell us about yourself.
Hi everyone! My name is Jayson Phuah. I'm currently working as a creative assistant for a theatre director in New York. So right now, I’m working remotely.*
(*This statement was made back in April 2021, during the time of filming.)
Would you like to share any of your current projects with us?
Yeah, right now they are having a lot of theatre shows for the season. Broadway is slowly reopening and I’m not as involved in it because I’m physically here. But I still handle a lot of their calendars and meetings, all the administrative work that can be done remotely. So I’m handling that.
Currently, we are trying to get Neil Patrick Harris on a podcast, but that’s still in progress. So, fingers crossed we can get him!
How did you first hear about Enfiniti Academy and what made you realise that performing arts was your passion?
Well, I didn’t know that Enfiniti Academy had classes at first. I thought they were a production house. So they’d put out big shows and musicals. Until I found out that Enfiniti does more than that and that they offered performing arts classes. So I actually found out about the Academy, after I found out about the production company.
I realise performing arts was my passion when I was younger and I played the Prince in Snow White. This was when I was six years old, still in Kindergarten. So at the end of the semester, we had a showcase of performances. And when I did that, I realised that I liked being in front of the camera and having people’s attention on me.
I’m just so full of myself (LOL!).
Why are the performing arts important to you?
I think the best analogy is to pull something from the last year, where everyone subconsciously turned towards the performing arts without really acknowledging their importance. Like in terms of boredom and fun, performing arts really plays a role in providing an outlet for people to relax and enjoy spending time indoors.
For example: When people were stuck at home, what did you do? Did you listen to music and put on Netflix? You did all that just to pass the time and keep yourself going. And all that is essentially the performing arts. I think it’s really important despite people not giving much attention or credit to it.
What challenges have you encountered in your career so far?
Family, it’s always about family. Initially, my parents were very adamant for me to not do it. They were very worried about my financial stability, about my future, about my career growth but I assured them that I was very serious about it. For what it’s worth, what I studied in the past is still very relevant today. That’s why I’m really trying to do it as a career and whatnot now.
I asked my parents, “Do you want me to study something that I don’t like and in the end, I wouldn’t pursue? In the end, I would be wasting your money. Or, would you want me to do something that I’m actually really, really serious about? I’m not doing it as a hobby. I’m serious about it.”
So, here I am!
What have been the highlights of your career so far?
This is a lot! Let me think about it first. The first thing that comes to mind was being in a choir that performed for Andrea Bocelli during his concert back in 2015.
Then, being in MUD The Story of Kuala Lumpur, which was one of my very first Enfiniti shows, I played one of the lead roles. There were many opportunities where I played in front of important people, such as the Sultan. That was a huge privilege.
I also loved playing Aladdin! There’s just so many good moments.
Also, with Deepak Chopra: I had to play a role in a show that was called “A Language Of Their Own” and it was one of my biggest roles. It was a challenging role and very fulfilling as an actor. It wasn’t an easy role and I really felt challenged and felt that it helped me grow as an actor.
Even after the show, people came up to me and complimented me on my growth. I saw myself growing in terms of my journey as an actor.
One more highlight that I have is from when I was in The United States, I spent one summer interning for a Broadway Theatre Company called the New Group. So, during that summer, I got to work alongside Jesse Eisenberg – The actor that played Lex Luthor in Justice League. He was also in the Now You See Me and Zombieland movies. So it was a very interesting experience.
What has Enfiniti Academy done for you or taught you in the past that you carry with you now?
Enfiniti’s mantra is all about training well, about working hard, about dedication and discipline. I think that just stuck with me. That is just essential if you’re in the performing arts. You can never stop growing or learning. That is something that I totally agree with Enfiniti on.
What have been the highlights of your time with Enfiniti Academy?
Honestly, we had two productions and it was really amazing for me to see the same kids that were in the first production, to see them again in the second production when they’ve just grown so much. And that was just in the span of a year.
Joanna Bessey would kill me for saying this but, during the rehearsals for Aladdin, there was one time where the magic carpet caught the curtain and as we were trying to move back towards off-stage. This was at the end of Act 1 and the curtains were trying to close.
It just got caught at the edge of the platform and that was my magic carpet. And they just kept pulling and the curtains basically tore. And I was shocked and I accidentally said “Sorry!” out loud. And it was caught on mic. So the audience had heard what I said. That is the most embarrassing and also a massive highlight of that particular performance.
On a serious note, has the performing arts helped you with your emotional or physical wellbeing? What has the performing arts done for your soul and how does performing make you feel?
It would definitely be more of an emotional and mental thing, like an inspiration. For me, when I was watching shows or even studying the characters that I would play. I realised that a lot of these characters have layers of complications to their identity. It’s what makes them human.
So to me, it’s cool that I actually have it in me to feel this way. Or to be this character, even though my personality is my base. In terms of my behaviour or my perspective, it could be from a different angle. And I realise that sometimes, like after I’ve wrapped up a show, that I would still be embodying some of the characteristics of the character.
It’s really cliche when actors say that but it’s only because it’s true. So like a week or two weeks after a show has wrapped up, sometimes the actor consciously or subconsciously feels the impact from that. For me, it’s more like both as an actor or as a person. I’ve become more mature just because of the characters that I’ve played and realised that I don’t have to act a certain way or see things a certain way. The whole purpose of life is to grow and to be mature about it.
So finally – especially growing up in Malaysia – most people do not understand the importance or benefits of performing arts education. What would you say to them, based on your experience, of why performing arts education is vital?
We’re living in a digital era. So, a lot of kids these days aspire to be content creators. I think it goes hand in hand with the performing arts. It's not just about you ‘getting the grand stage’ or whatnot. I have friends who earn a good living just by being a wedding singer, you know.
So in the performing arts, like even being a host at events and everything. Enfiniti does a lot of events. It’s just a stigma in Asian culture, especially in Malaysia where you talk about how you “want to be a dancer or a singer or an actor or a host.” Just basically being involved in the Arts.
People don’t take that seriously and people think that you are doing it for fun or have no career growth. But things are slowly changing. A year ago, no one would’ve thought that working from home was an option or Zoom was a thing. But then Boom, it just happened right?
I think Society needs to slowly adapt to 2021 onwards. And acknowledge the fact that being a digital content creator and performing artist is a relevant career option right now.
Thank you for everything Enfiniti Academy and Happy 10th anniversary!
(Note: Answers have been edited for clarity and length.)
At Enfiniti Academy, we are SUPER proud of Jayson and all that he’s achieved in his career.
We’re also very happy to celebrate 10 years of producing outstanding, creative leaders!
If you’re interested in learning the Performing Arts, we’ve got the PERFECT course for you! Sign Up for our 12-week Performing Arts Certificate Course – our next semester starts 15th January 2022!