On the Couch with Deirdre Khoo

Deirdre-Khoo-AAR-On-the-CouchWho is Deirdre Khoo?
I am an actor, singer, musician, and most importantly – an escape room fanatic! I was born and raised in Singapore until I turned 16, which was when I moved to Australia alone to pursue a career in the arts. I am a proud Peranakan-Chinese, and as Sandra Oh said It’s an honour just to be Asian.

What would you do differently from what you do now?
I wouldn’t change anything that I have now! I am so grateful to have been through what I’ve gone through and without those things, I would not be the same person I am today. If (maybe in a parallel universe) I had to go down another path in life, I think I would’ve been a neurosurgeon. I was fascinated with the functions of the brain as a young teen and I might’ve gone down that route if I wasn’t so passionate about performing.

Who inspires you and why?
Many, many people. However, the person that inspires me the most is my grandmother. She grew up in a culture that primarily had women in the kitchen and doing domestic chores, but instead of letting it bog her down, she used it to be the best in her craft & became respected for it. She is one of the strongest women I know in my life and I will never meet a woman as resilient & as brave as her. With that, I am in awe of her everyday.

In terms of artistically, there are many singers and artists in my life that I have drawn inspiration from. I look up to artists who are constantly working hard to better themselves in one way or another, an example would be So Hyang (a South Korean singer).

What would you do to make a difference in the world?
I am really passionate about diversity and inclusivity within the theatre & arts industry, using new and refreshing ideas to evoke crucial thoughts from the audience. I believe that art reflects life, and vice versa.

Favourite holiday destination and why?
I was just in Scotland at the end of 2022, and I found it the most spectacular place. We went up to the Scottish Highlands, where Isle of Skye is and saw the most breath-taking views. It was something I’d never experienced in my life. I went during winter (low season) and found it so striking – I can’t imagine going there in peak Summer, when it would just be even more gorgeous. As you can tell, I’m a bit of a nature junkie!

When friends come to town, what attraction would you take them to, and why?
I will definitely get them to come catch Rocky Horror, of course! There’s absolutely no doubt that it would be a fun time. I’d also love for them, on a beautiful day, to take a trip up to the Northern beaches, or take the ferry out to Manly beach. If they’re not beach people, head up to the Blue Mountains and take in the surroundings.

What are you currently reading?
I shall let you in on a secret… I don’t read that often! I wish I did, really! But I can never get through the first few pages of a book, and hence I go to TV series and audiobooks! THAT being said, there is one book that I always go back to and I have read it maybe a hundred times – I exaggerate – Sherlock Holmes. I am a huge Sir Arthur Conan Doyle fan… Did you know that Sherlock was modelled after his actual professor at Edinburgh University, Dr Joseph Bell? Fun facts!

What are you currently listening to?
My Spotify says it’s the Live Original Cast Recording of Hadestown and Sammy Rae & the Friends!

Happiness is?
The little things in life. And never taking them for granted.

What does the future hold for you?
The big question! I don’t know! So many things I can imagine. As many aspirations I have for the future, I kinda just want to appreciate things that come my way, one at a time. Life is so short, and it goes so quickly. I can only work as hard as I can… and come what may!

Deirdre will star as Janet in the 50th Anniversary production of The Rocky Horror Show – which plays the Theatre Royal Sydney from 14 February, before playing the Adelaide Festival Centre from 13 April; and the Athenaeum Theatre, Melbourne from 18 May 2023. For more information, visit: www.rockyhorror.com.au for details.

Image: Deirdre Khoo (supplied)