5 Life Lessons With Sukki Singapora
Burlesque dancer and gender equality pioneer, we talk to Singapore's first and leading burlesque Queen.
How do you define Sukki Singapora? It would be easy to write that she is a burlesque dancer as this would be true, but she is also first international burlesque dancer from Singapore, she has also fought tirelessly for burlesque to be allowed in Singapore. With strong and outspoken political and social views, Sukki created The Singapore Burlesque Society in 2012 to protect Asian women who wanted to pursue this art - earning herself in the finals of the 'Asian Woman of Achievement Awards' in the process.
Believing that burlesque is an art form for women, by women, she passionately believes that it helps break down the notion of gender equality by helping the artists reclaim their bodies.
Here, Sukki reveals the five life lessons she has learnt that have made her who she is today.
Believe you're going to make it and you will.
Believe in yourself. Believe in your passion. And I don’t mean “believe in yourself mostly,” I mean, believe in yourself fiercely, one hundred percent. One of the most influential references in my life is that of Muhammad Ali proclaiming "I am the greatest." At that point in his mind, failure was not an option, and that's how I live my life. I can't allow myself any self-doubt, any micro-thought of worry that I might not achieve this, or I might not achieve that. I simply will. Because there is no other option. Failure is not an option for me. I wanted to make it. I will make it. I’ve made it. I believe that if you think like that, it's a done deal. It's already happened. You’ve already made it, right now, this exact instant, in another time plane, so just ride the journey.
How much do you want it?
Every single morning I wake up and ask myself this. How much do you want it? When everyone else is asleep, I’m that person with insomnia, thinking about creative ideas, thinking about acts, thinking about strategy. Every second of every day I think about how much I want to make a difference, how much I want to express myself, and my art. People often ask me: “How have you managed to achieve so much in such a short space of time?” I only quit my job in IT in 2013, just five years ago, to become a Burlesque Artist. The answer is, when everyone else is sleeping, I’m still awake, still working, still creating and still dreaming. It’s like I’m living twice as many years as everyone in half the space, and that’s how I did it. How much do you want it? Ask yourself that every single day.
Be yourself. Even if yourself is outrageously uncool.
It’s no secret that I’m a complete geek. I used to wish I wasn’t, but the fact is. I am. I’m completely dorky, a sci-fi nerd, and on occasion, very socially awkward. I also have no filter. But you know what? I am who I am. We all are who we are. And even if that means we get it wrong occasionally, that’s ok. Because what I’ve learned is that people will thankfully love you anyway. In fact, they’ll love you more for being authentic. Which is quite lucky, because even if I wanted to be something else, I couldn’t be!
My mentor, David Foster, once said to me: “What do you think the most important thing is to your success?” I knew from the glint in his eyes that this was a test, but I tried to think hard. I answered… learning my craft? Being the best at Burlesque? Being super-talented? Being true to yourself? Working hard?! Every single time he replied: “Nope, no… no.” He looked at me and said one word: “Networking.” The biggest key to success is not how talented you are – but of course it helps - it’s how you connect with people. It’s knowing the right people. It’s getting to know the right people. It’s nothing to do with how talented you are, Sukki. We were in a restaurant in LA at the time, and the whole table went silent. It’s stuck with me ever since. In fact, it’s exactly why becoming the Global Ambassador for 1880 was so important to me. Because that’s ultimately everything it stands for. Incredible people, connecting, collaborating, and going on to do amazing things together.
Don’t be afraid to care.
I wear my heart on my sleeve like a stripped wire. If I’m happy, my heart lights up, if I’m sad, I can’t hide it. I also place a lot of trust in people. And I care passionately. People have told me so many times that I need to be more guarded, or become harder, or trust less, but I don’t believe that. I think that being raw, and real, and genuine, and kind is a blessing, not a curse. I let myself feel everything. The highs and the lows. You don’t have to be cold to succeed. In my opinion, you don’t have to have a poker face to win at poker.