James Kumar, Benjamin Kheng and Sonia Chew On Their Own Personal Heroes


James Kumar, Benjamin Kheng and Sonia Chew On Their Own Personal HeroesMales’s Folio cowl stars James Kumar, Benjamin Kheng and Sonia Chew on the third of three August ’21 covers, wearing TAG Heuer

James Kumar, Benjamin Kheng and Sonia Chew On Their Own Personal HeroesBenjamin Kheng is sporting TAG Heuer Aquaracer Skilled 300 in stainless-steel case with matching bracelet, Berluti Leather-based jacket, cotton shirt, wool-blend turtleneck sweater, Benjamin’s personal Earrings

“I believe one thing that’s embedded within the Singapore expertise is the worry of shedding and being helpless (kiasi) — I can’t even rely the variety of incidents, I can solely hope to do higher every time. We’ve been fairly pampered, so we regularly wait for giant insurance policies to make change and neglect small actions have the ability to impact greater outcomes — like caring for the surroundings or tackling racism.”

“Millennials (and Gen Z’s) spearheaded many issues — discount in schooling gaps, better gender equality and lots of extra progressive fronts. We’re very modern, I believe.”

“I’m insecure, fearful, egocentric and liable to overthinking. I don’t know, I’m fairly flexible in life. I’m extra of a mediator/reformist, so I consider in stage of backward bending. It’s not about being spineless, it’s about cautious kindness. That stated I’ll solely bend as soon as for something and be very cautious the following time spherical.”

“Happiness isn’t a one-ingredient bowl and it appears totally different to everybody however serving to others undoubtedly strikes the needle. It is dependent upon the state of ‘your self’, I believe (in reference to the assertion of ‘Earlier than you assist others, you should first assist your self’). In the event you’re each drowning, then sure. However for those who’re mildly inconvenienced or in your emotions, then generally being the assistance additionally miraculously helps your self.”

“A hero is somebody who by no means identifies as a ‘hero’, who fights for injustice, and who in all probability isn’t very lively on social media — like Jane Goodall, Michael Phelps, my dad!”

“I’m making an attempt to do the little issues, and if changing into a hero is a by-product of it then nice! However I’m making an attempt to not make {that a} central focus. At present laying down bricks to start out my very own nonprofit organisation. Hopefully that goes effectively!”

James Kumar, Benjamin Kheng and Sonia Chew On Their Own Personal HeroesJames Kumar is sporting TAG Heuer Aquaracer Skilled 300 in stainless-steel case with matching bracelet; Fendi Wool jacket, mohair and cotton polo sweater; James’ personal Sun shades, rings

“I’ve no plans to change into a hero. I believe it’s a bit of narcissistic to intention at changing into a hero. It makes mild of the journey to mastering your life, your struggles, your ideas. If my work and efforts assist individuals alongside the way in which — nice — however my purpose has by no means been to change into referred to as a hero or function mannequin.”

“I believe I lack the will to change into a hero. I don’t take into account myself to be self-centred however I are inclined to maintain to myself and take a look at my finest to get by every day. If I’ve sufficient to provide, I’ll. If I discover somebody in want and am able to assist, I’ll try this. Exterior of that, I deal with enhancing my abilities — studying extra concerning the world and surviving the everyday.”

“I’ve failed loads. I believe that’s the purpose although. You strive one thing, it really works and also you enhance or it doesn’t and also you troubleshoot and take a look at once more.”

“I don’t impose any restrictions on myself. The world restricts us all sufficient and truthfully, I can’t say what I’ll and received’t do to outlive. Nobody actually is aware of how they might compromise when push involves shove and you’re looking at surviving another day. As a inventive, your livelihood is dependent upon your freedom to precise. Even with these freedoms, there are modifications in expertise, censorship, agendas and laws that restrict our expression, and so it turns into a vital talent for us as creatives to search out methods and means across the limitations to create a physique of labor that represents us. So I’ll be trustworthy and say I don’t prohibit myself.”

“I believe we may use extra empathy and compassion in every single place. It helps us all bear in mind we belong to the identical race and are all searching for the identical factor in our life — happiness. Empathy helps us cease specializing in all that makes us totally different and teaches us to have a look at all that we now have in frequent. Understanding another person’s struggles makes us extra keen to assist one another with out situations. We’d like extra of that.”

“I consider that to essentially, successfully assist others, I have to first be in a gentle place. I have to be able to achieve out and assist individuals in order that I can deal with what they want as a substitute of worrying about myself on the similar time. I don’t ever need to make a promise to anyone after I’m not in place and may’t ship on my phrase.”

“I believe that the key to happiness lies in residing within the second. I’ve met individuals who undergo the motions of serving to individuals, however their minds are elsewhere frightened about one thing else. To be within the second, to attach with the life round you, that could be a uncommon means and for those who can handle it, the remainder of your issues are pushed to the backburner and you’ll take pleasure in a meal, recognize somebody’s firm, get wrapped up in a e-book or film, chortle with abandon. These are moments of pure happiness to me that I attempt to treasure.”

“This era is well-intentioned — I believe — however the necessity to show they’re making efforts form of takes the main target away from the work itself. They’re well-informed, they sustain with present occasions and are good at constructing communities however I believe actual change takes each arms. Proper now, plainly most individuals assist with one hand and has a cellphone within the different to file proof.”

“To me, a hero is somebody who is totally human. Somebody who has fallen time and again and mastered the artwork of selecting themselves up. Somebody who has compassion due to their expertise with ache. Somebody who appreciates life as a result of they’ve skilled loss.”

“There are various individuals who embody these qualities. Most of them are on a regular basis individuals who work arduous to make a distinction in their very own lives and the lives round them. They aren’t right here to make a reputation for themselves however need to depart the world a greater place than after they discovered it. In the event you want a widely known individual to know my thought of a hero, I’d say Steve Jobs as a result of he got down to reinvent an information processing machine to be extra helpful to inventive minds.”

James Kumar, Benjamin Kheng and Sonia Chew On Their Own Personal HeroesSonia Chew is sporting TAG Heuer Aquaracer Skilled 300 in stainless-steel case with matching bracelet; Prada Re-Nylon and pretend fur parka coat

“I’ve at all times struggled with self-confidence from the beginning. I believe a variety of it stemmed from me being the quietest child at school with not many buddies — at all times afraid to talk up (ironic seeing how most of what I do now requires tons of talking). [Laughs] I’m additionally a little bit of a worrier and the Capricorn in me at all times must know that I’ve my life deliberate out. Because it seems although, not every little thing may be deliberate and it’s solely human nature to deal with the unhealthy bits of ourselves as a substitute of the nice.”

“Mandarin has by no means been my strongest swimsuit and at one level I had a tutor assist me out for some jobs that required me to talk in English and Mandarin! Being too formidable, I took up a job with a fairly large Chinese language model and needed to do the opening speech in Mandarin. 30 minutes to the present, I used to be within the rest room chilly sweating and having a serious meltdown as a result of I had by no means spoken Mandarin in entrance of a giant viewers earlier than!”

“I look again at that and chortle… as a result of it goes to indicate how highly effective your thoughts is. Regardless of how ready I used to be and I even had the han yu pin yin [Mandarin phonetics] all sorted, a tiny seed of worry is all it takes for us to crumble. I managed to drag by and even acquired some applause after the speech (perhaps out of pity or encouragement however I’ll take it) so I assume I didn’t crack underneath strain ultimately!”

“I’d by no means do one thing that doesn’t morally sit effectively with me or that I don’t align with or consider in. I nonetheless bear in mind very vividly within the early years of my profession, a outstanding determine within the trade had a lewd proposition for me to be able to land a job and threatened that if I didn’t do it, he may smash my profession. I stood my floor with no regrets. Placing in trustworthy, arduous work and staying true to myself is one thing that I pleasure myself in.”

“Happiness can be a really multifaceted factor and is often a domino impact. In case your private life is clean, you are inclined to really feel higher about your self and due to this fact thrive at work — and even the opposite manner round. Happiness may be easy or complicated — it is dependent upon how we outline it!”

“Serving to others really brings an immense quantity of pleasure to me. I really feel that in flip, it makes me a greater individual. If we will all be rather less egocentric and kinder to one another, we’d be a lot happier. It undoubtedly performs a giant half for me!”

“The late Princess Diana, Coco Chanel and Michelle Obama are some ladies I’m completely enamoured and impressed by. They’re unapologetically themselves and don’t simply discuss altering the panorama — they did it. On a extra private stage, I’ve tons to thank my mother and father for. They have been forwardthinking in bringing me up and inspired me to go in opposition to the grain.”

“With how fast-paced this era is, it’s difficult the world to evolve faster and that features mindsets too. Topics which were thought of taboo for the longest time are actually being spoken overtly and confidently about, and these are obligatory and lengthy overdue conversations available. We nonetheless have a protracted approach to go, nevertheless it’s begin.”

“Empathy and compassion — I wouldn’t say that it’s restricted to the Singapore society, however there’s portion of individuals particularly on-line who’re hypercritical and have a ‘you deserve it’ mentality. An excessive amount of time and vitality are wasted on all this negativity on-line!”

“A hero is somebody who continuously evokes others, acknowledges weaknesses, and transcends their very own challenges — whereas staying real af. I don’t ever need to be stagnant or complacent. On a private stage, I’m taking a enterprise certification to problem myself and study one thing helpful for my future endeavours! Can’t consider I’m learning once more… [Laughs]”

Pictures Joel Low
Artwork Route Izwan Abdullah
Styling Wilson Lim
Pictures Assistant Eddie Teo
Styling Assistant Manfred Lu, Bing
Grooming Sha Shamsi utilizing Dior Backstage Hair Sean Ang utilizing KEVIN.MURPHY & Dyson (for Benjamin Kheng)
Grooming Eric Tan utilizing NARS Hair Manisa Tan utilizing Keune Haircosmetics (James Kumar and Sonia Chew)

This James Kumar, Benjamin Kheng and Sonia Chew interview first appeared within the August ’21 issue of Males’s Folio Singapore.






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