Singapore Celebrities Who Found Fame Overseas

While we swoon over K-Pop idols or Hollywood superstars, we often forget about celebrities from our own little red dot. 

With Singapore being such a small country, it’s sometimes hard for celebrities to make a name for themselves — which is why many venture out into the international market. If you’ve ever wondered who are the local names who have brought us hometown glory, check out this list of 10 local celebrities who found fame overseas. Perhaps, they’ll give you the motivation that you need to also strike out on your own across borders.

1. JJ Lin


When you think of local celebrities, one of the first people to pop up in your head would probably be JJ Lin. In 2004, just one year after his debut, the Singaporean singer-songwriter won Best New Artist at the Golden Melody Awards — Taiwan’s equivalent of the Grammys.

To date, JJ Lin has won numerous awards — including Best Asian Artist at the Mnet Asian Music Awards. Not to mention, the singer has also amassed a whopping 2.2 million monthly listeners on Spotify, earning his place as the 2nd most popular Mandopop artist on Spotify — just behind Jay Chou.

Follow JJ Lin on Facebook and Instagram.

2. Stefanie Sun


Stefanie Sun, or better known as Sun Yan Zi, is a Singaporean singer-songwriter who found fame in Taiwan. Upon releasing her debut album in 2001, she immediately won an award for Best New Artist at the Golden Melody Award Ceremony. Altogether, Stefanie Sun was nominated for the Best Female Mandarin Singer award at the Golden Melody Award Ceremony five times. 

FYI, the female singer also sang our National Day Parade theme song for two consecutive years, in 2002 and 2003. 

Follow Stefanie Sun on Facebook and Instagram.

3. Chin Han


Few Singaporeans have made a name for themselves in the US film industry, which makes Chin Han’s achievements that much more special. 

As one of the most well-known Asian actors in Hollywood, Chin Han has acted in many popular movies. FYI, Chin Han actually acted in The Dark Knight as Lau — a Chinese crime lord who was caught by Batman. 

Now, the actor is still going strong in the tough industry. Some of his most recent works include Skyscraper, a movie starring Dwyane Johnson, and Mortal Kombat, where he is part of the main cast.

Follow Chin Han on Facebook and Instagram.

4. Fann Wong


Commonly referred to as one of MediaCorp’s Ah Jies, Fann Wong is actually the first Singaporean actress to make her big break in Hollywood. In 2003, she played Chon Lin in Shanghai Knights, an American martial arts comedy film. 

For her role as Chon Lin, the Singaporean actress was nominated for Best Fight at the MTV Movie Awards. Though she didn’t win, getting nominated was still undeniably a huge feat. Then in 2008, Fann’s hard work paid off as she won Best Actress Award for her role in Dance of the Dragon at the West Hollywood International Film Festival.

Follow Fann Wong on Facebook and Instagram.

5. Mark Lee


By now, you’re probably familiar with Mark Lee. After all, the comedian, actor and host often appears on Channel 8 and various Singaporean films. In 2010, he was even awarded the All Time Favourite Artiste award in the Star Awards, after being one of Top 10 Most Popular Male Artistes for 10 years. 

Well, the male celebrity made his big break in Taiwan in 2021, when he was nominated for the Best Leading Actor award at the Golden Horse Awards — one of the most prestigious Chinese award ceremonies — for his film, Number 1.

Subsequently, the film also started streaming on Disney+, becoming one of the few Singaporean works to be streamed on the platform. 

Follow Mark Lee on Facebook and Instagram.

Also read:

22 Singapore Idol Contestants Across 3 Seasons And What They Have Been Up To

6. Tan Kheng Hua


While Tan Kheng Hua has acted in various international films like Marco Polo — an original Netflix series — alongside other notable Asian actors like Chin Han and Michelle Yeoh, she never quite got her name out there until 2018, when she acted in Crazy Rich Asians as Kerry Chu, the female lead’s mother. 

Since then, the actress has scored herself countless roles in popular TV series like Grey’s Anatomy and Medical Police. In 2021, she even starred in Kung Fu — an American martial arts action-adventure television series — as one of the main leads.

Follow Tan Kheng Hua on Instagram.

7. Lawrence Wong


While Lawrence Wong started his acting career in 2002, his roles were often minor and hence, he was not very well-known. 

You could say that his acting career took a turn for the better in 2010. That year, he was nominated for the Favourite Male Character award at the Star Awards for his role as Wen Yuan in The Promise, a Channel U telemovie.

In 2018, Lawrence Wong officially rose to global fame when he acted as supporting character, Hai Lan Cha, in Story of Yanxi Palace — a TV series that was streamed more than 15 billion times on iQiyi.

Follow Lawrence Wong on Facebook and Instagram.

8. Tanya Chua


Tanya Chua’s music career in Taiwan grew gradually. From a small artist, she is now one of the most renowned female singers in the country. 

In 2000, her second Mandarin album, Remember, earned her a nomination for Best New Artist at the Golden Melody Awards. 

Six years later at the 17th Golden Melody Awards, she finally won an award for Best Mandarin Singer. Now, the female singer picks up accolades effortlessly.  At the 33rd Golden Melody Awards just two years ago, she was nominated for eight awards and won four — including the awards for Best Female Mandarin Singer, Best Mandarin Album, and Album of the Year. 

Follow Tanya Chua on Facebook and Instagram.

9. Nathan Hartono


While many of us may be familiar with Nathan Hartono — since he sang our 2020 NDP theme song “Everything I Am”, what may be surprising is that the singer-songwriter actually debuted at just 16 years old. 

After winning the Teenage Icon singing competition in 2005, Nathan released numerous albums before participating in Sing! China. In the singing competition, he brought pride to Singaporeans by being the first from our Lion City to pass the blind auditions and make it to the finals. 

Follow Nathan Hartono on Facebook and Instagram.

10. Johanna Dong


Johanna Dong is someone that should be applauded for her resilience in making it in the music industry. In 2004, the Singaporean singer joined the first season of Singapore Idol. Unfortunately, she only made it to the top 40. 

Despite this setback, the singer stuck to her dreams of pursuing music. She performed with different bands at hotel gigs and collaborated with various artists to release singles. 

In 2017, the singer rose to fame as the second Singaporean singer to reach the finals of Sing! China, after Nathan Hartono. While she did not manage to win first place, the singer emerged as the second runner-up.

Follow Joanna Dong on Facebook and Instagram.

These Local Celebrities Who Found Fame Overseas Have Made Singaporeans Proud 

While Asian representation in Hollywood is on the rise, we still hardly see our fellow Singaporean celebrities on the big screen. 

The celebrities on this list stayed strong in their endeavours and made a name for themselves internationally in the tough music and acting industry, bringing pride to Singapore along the way. Hopefully, we’ll be able to see more local celebrities in the international scene in the future. 

Cover image: Source, Source, Source

Also read:

10 Ex-Mediacorp Actors & Actresses We Grew Up Watching And Where They Are Now