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An unexpected turn of events

8TV newscaster Owen Yap talks about his life

15 Feb 2021 / 07:00 H.

POPULAR 8TV newscaster Owen Yap has been plying his trade in the world of broadcasting for more than 17 years now. Throughout the span of his career, Yap also found himself in other endeavours, such as modelling. Speaking to theSun, he elaborated on his life before and after becoming notably the most familiar face of the long-running Malaysian-Chinese television network.

“I used to be a lecturer for about eight years before making a career switch at the age of 30,” Yap said at the beginning of the interview, adding that the 8TV job opening did not specify it was for the position of a newscaster.

“It said ‘broadcast journalist for a private Chinese television station’. I thought there was no harm trying my luck, as I wanted it just as a part-time job. I sent in an application and to my surprise, in less than two weeks, they asked me to go for an interview”.

Two days later, he received a call and Yap then found himself at an important crossroads, to continue being a lecturer or switch to a career in broadcasting.

“I thought as it was part-time, I did not have to commit so much, that I would go in to read and just leave. To my surprise, at the time, the news started at 6pm. Meaning I had to be there at 4pm, but I could only leave the university at 5pm at the earliest. I really had to think if I should take the offer,” he said.

Being a lecturer, Yap explained that he could go back to it any time as he had the qualifications, and if there were vacancies. As he wanted to try something new, despite having no background in broadcasting, nor writing or presenting news, he made the leap.

Yap says newcasting and presenting are not glamorous jobs. – PICTURE COURTESY OF OWEN YAP
Yap says newcasting and presenting are not glamorous jobs. – PICTURE COURTESY OF OWEN YAP

Turning point

The switch did come with its fair share of challenges, and instead of retreating, Yap proved his mettle.

“The first day 8TV went on air, I was the first to present the news. There was no time to be laid-back, and over the years, I learned from mistakes and improved. To me, it was whether someone has the willingness to learn, and when given the opportunity, it has to be cherished and made use of.”

Yap said when he was a lecturer, he was always ready to face his students, who could sometimes number more than 300. But he initially felt he was not ready to be in front of the cameras.

“Frankly, one thing about news, is that they update at the last minute. For instance, when you’re reading the teleprompter, they’ll update the news. You’re following it word-by-word, and then it changes. Essentially, you have to be mentally prepared with a Plan B if something happens,” he said with a laugh.

On why he did not return to the world of education, Yap said he enjoys the freedom that came with his job as a newscaster for 8TV.

“(It was) the feeling of being given the freedom to do what you want while also being needed. 8TV gives me a lot of freedom to do my own things, like hosting jobs outside and other programmes. It never interferes with my job at 8TV because the other things do not jeopardise my image as a newscaster.”

The freedom would then allow Yap to breach other industries, becoming a model and even an ambassador for brands.

He credits his time management as the key factor for how he juggles his time between all the different jobs, which Yap claims is the most challenging part of his daily life.

An unexpected turn of events

Yap’s job at 8TV gives him the freedom to pursue other interests like becoming a model and ambassador for brands. – PICTURE COURTESY OF OWEN YAP

– PICTURE COURTESY OF OWEN YAP
– PICTURE COURTESY OF OWEN YAP

Pandemic and after

Yap said he is still attached to Shopee Fortune Box, and will be shooting The Z Power programme on 8TV.

“We’re planning to shoot the third season in March, but we’re not sure of it due to the current movement control order (MCO). Last year, we had a hard time shooting it because we had to avoid body contact. It’s a competition, so how to avoid?”

“I’m so happy with our team pulling through. The last season’s first episode was on March 16, and the first day of MCO was on March 18. We had to chase the kids home, and it was put on hold until June. Everyone came back and looked different, because kids grow so fast.”

Before parting ways, Yap had some sage advice for those enduring these trying times.

“Even though life may get harder, I learned from friends that when the going gets tough, the tough get going. We just need to take care of our lives, because life is a blessing. Everyone should be in the peak of good health,” he said.

“My parents passed away due to cancer, so I always believe that life is unpredictable. Just treasure everything you have now. Last year was about surviving, and this year is about thriving”.

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