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5 Things You Don’t Know About… Janet Lee

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  1. The 1, 2, 3 before do, re, mi.

One of Janet’s first jobs in KL was as a mortgage sales officer in an American bank. “In my clueless early twenties, I had to pull off looking like a professional.” Here this meant tapping away at a financial calculator, convincing businessmen to re-mortgage their properties, and dispensing advice on new home financing. She endured all of two years and four months. Neither a top salesperson in the trade nor a fan of numbers, Janet still marvels that she lasted more than year.

  1. Who wouldn’t want to buy a baby songbird?

Yes, like Farah Sulaiman, Janet was almost sold as a baby. Only in this case it was for real. “Mom says they weren’t planning for a third kid and money was tight then,” Janet says. “There was an actress who was single and wanted a child….” At the last minute, her mother changed her mind and the transaction didn’t take place. It amuses Janet that, as having performed in musicals, she sort of followed in her almost adoptive mother’s footsteps. “I wonder what would have happened if I’d been adopted by that actress lady. What would I do, where would I be today?”

  1. Rapt contemplation of the thought of her name

Janet’s real name, the one on her I.C. is ‘Shu Fun’, a Cantonese spelling of the Mandarin ‘Shu-Fen’ which literally means ‘an expression of fragrance’. She took on the name ‘Janet’ when she left her Chinese-medium school to do her forms 4 and 5 at a vocational school in Kamunting, Taiping. It was easier for her non-Chinese teachers and schoolmates to say, and the name has stuck ever since.

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  1. If they asked me, I could write a book

During her school days, Janet dreamed of being a novelist and author. She still keeps old manuscripts of her short stories and novels, in Mandarin. One of her protagonists was a female assassin, who at the start of the novel has just fulfilled an assignment…

  1. From mortgaging to modeling agency to microphone

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Janet’s last day job 11 years ago was a booker in a modeling agency. She had taken a pay cut to enter the fashion industry in hopes of becoming a stylist. Her best friend, See Ming, had told her: “Nobody gets any younger, get a job where you connect more with your interests.” At the time she was also rehearsing every night for her first musical and her busy waking world was elbowing in on her sleeping one. Janet’s dreams were a mish-mash of models, fashion shows and the lyrics she had to memorize. “I started to freak out a bit after a few nights like that.” Four months later, Janet made a choice. She resigned from the agency to devote herself full time to her real passion; performing.

About Janet Lee

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“I sing not because I’m happy, I’m happy because I sing.”

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Amy De Kanter
Amy De Kanter

Former Chief Editor, frequent contributor and enthusiastic audience member, Amy is thrilled to have a job that lets her do three of the things she loves most.