Jeanne at 2002 Theatre LA Ovation Awards. Photo by Jon Deshler.

When Chay Yew first asked me to play the man’s role of Master Hua Wai Mun in his play RED, I hesitated.  Could I play a man?  Could I play a man who was a Master in Beijing Opera who specialized in playing women?  Could I perform the singing and the dance moves convincingly?  Could I….could I…..

My mind was full of doubts.  But fortunately Chay did not let me say no to this amazing opportunity.  And at his prodding and under his astute direction, I jumped off the cliff and played this role, first in his home country of Singapore, and then home in LA at East West Players.  And this leap into the unknown ended with my winning a Theatre LA Ovation Award for Outstanding Lead Actress.  A total surprise, as I never thought about awards during our runs–I was too preoccupied and too terrified just playing the role itself.

Sometimes you are lucky and someone enters your life who looks into your artist’s soul, and sees the potential there, and then stubbornly pushes you way beyond what you think you are capable of.  Chay Yew has certainly been that for me, both as an actor and playwright.

This is a role I never dreamed of playing—and it ended up being the role of my dreams.

Chay, thank you, and I hope I made you proud.

Theatre LA Ovation Awards, 2002, Timothy Patterson and Jeanne Sakata