We meet Chris Mak on a sunny Sunday morning at Singapore Polo Club. He relaxes himself on the couch and eases into the conversation as though we are old acquaintances catching up after years. “I’m a huge homebody. I like to stay at home and do nothing, sleep, watch. That’s a perfect weekend for me,” smiles the 27-year-old 987 DJ who now enters the world of acting after he landed a significant role in the 1998 Singaporean classic The Teenage Textbook adaption series that is expected to premiere the first quarter of 2021.
Us, sitting under the brick roof facing the grass polo field having the interview over a cup of coffee and tea, is in fact a few months in-the-making. We reached out to Chris late last year, and though he gracefully agrees, his back to back schedules between his radio program and filming get in the way. His upcoming series will be his first lead role, and it could be a hit or a miss for him, but does he always wanted to act? He lets out an affiliative smile, “Yeah, for sure. I’ve always wanted to act since I was a kid. It’s just, I’m going through a lot of things that kind of blocked my opportunities. But now that I’m on a certain path and I’ve got certain things planned out, I’m really looking forward to it.”
Chris being the hottest DJ
By any chance you scroll on Chris’ social media handles, particularly his Tiktok, you will find that he is in no way hesitant to get rid of his clothes to bless his feed. His timeline mainly consists of his charming, good profile; some are of him being comic while showing off his physique that exudes sexuality––intentionally or not––that easily captures a vastly versatile demographic. He just possesses that kind of face, and this dishy-ness about him that makes you stop in your scrolling tracks. I guess he is used to that kind of attention, so I ask what he thinks when people tell that he’s too good looking to be on the radio. He lets out a hearty laugh, “I don’t look at myself like that.”
He then continues, explaining rather matter-of-factly, “I just feel like you do whatever you’re passionate about. But when you look at yourself every day, you don’t think you’re good looking. So, I just do my job. Yeah, that’s about it.”
Chris has been on the radio for a little over two years, serving residents in Singapore top hit music. Listeners can hear him on a publicly accessible broadcast every weekday from 2 to 4 pm with his calming, lower-pitched voice that evokes an overall positive appeal to his audience. As confident as it may sound, not everyone knows that behind that voice is a person who bears a listening disorder and speech impairment since he was a kid. But to him, it’s a blessing in disguise. By having that condition, he tenaciously spent a lot of work improving that eventually led him to overcome it and become more skilled, if not exemplary, in speaking.
“I never really thought about it being a problem because I kind of overcame that at the younger stage of life. And whenever you practice something, you tend to get better and better at it. So when I started this [DJ], I just thought it was a great opportunity,” he notes.
In a rapidly changing media landscape where people pivots to mostly visual online streaming, I always wonder how people from traditional media react to it. TV and radio had the greatest foothold in terms of entertainment avenues from the 50s and started to decrease their audience beginning the early 2000s, so I ask what his take is about people saying that radio is far less important than it used to be.
“I think everyone’s trying to adapt, to be honest, like radio can link up with podcasts and everything,” he starts. “So just linking everything together is really important. And that’s how you link social media to radio; it still can be a platform that people will listen to because many people are used to listening to the radio, like the older generation. So if you link social media and you bring some of the younger kids on board, they might start listening to the radio as well. But yeah, it really depends on what you’re used to, I guess.”
Trying to keep abreast of rapidly changing social media trends
Sitting one meter away from him, I can’t help but allude to Chris’s undeniable charisma. A type of charm that fans would turn their heads one way or another by his mere presence. His answers to most of my questions are short and precise, more like leaving a mystery for everyone to decipher.
As we continue with our conversation, Chris admits that he doesn’t think he has gotten that breakthrough in his career––just yet. And when I ask what he considers to be the proudest moment in his career is, he shrugs and says, “To be very honest with you, I don’t know. I think that just by having a show on the radio is great. But honestly, this is just the beginning.”
While we jump to deliberate on the topic of social media, Mak confesses that he “hates social media.”
Hate is such a strong word, I probe.
“Honestly, if I’m being raw and honest, I don’t like it because it’s just so much distraction,” he reveals. “Everyone’s so focused on their phones. I think I’m very used to just not having social media. If I could, I would just not have it.”
I ask him: If you are not a public personality, you won’t?
“But you have Tiktok?” I ask again, trying to challenge him this time.
A sheepish grin forms on his face, “Yeah…I have reasons for that one, too, but I will not go into it.”
Chris goes on to share that he only got his first smartphone when he was 20 years old as his parents think he doesn’t need one, in which he also didn’t mind. But as much as he doesn’t fancy social media, he has nothing against people who are really into it. Chris acknowledges those who are making a living out of it. “If you’re making money out of social media, and you’re happy doing it, go ahead and do it as long as it makes you happy. I’m just saying personally, for me, I think it’s just too much distraction. I would prefer just to have a conversation face to face,” he notes.
Now that he has a growing platform digitally, people begin to look up to him whether he desires it or not. So how does he intend to use it to inspire his followers?
“I guess, to send out hopeful messages to people and try to inspire them in any way possible. At least for me, believing that I can do a certain job was really tough when I was younger, but I really think that you can do anything that you want. So I just want people to go and achieve whatever they want to do, and not let anything hold them back. Because you only have one life, you want to make the best of it.”
With Chris Mak’s swinging career and personal life, all watchful eyes––eagerly waiting for what’s up his sleeves––are now on him, and he’s dancing his way to success to the hilt. His journey may surely not without a gloomy cloud, but he surely knows how to steer his path in appropriate rhythm and pace.
“My biggest thing is always wake up in the morning and know what you want to do. If you don’t know what you want to do, find out what you want to do, go for it and never look back,” he concludes.
Photography by: Emerson Baun
Wardrobe by Club21:
– Feng Chan Wang
– Paul Smith
– Acne Studios
Three-piece ensemble by Debonaire
Shot on location: Singapore Polo Club