This article was posted on hoolah on 3 August 2020.
“Are your eyebrows real?” It was the first question that I asked Dew Francis when we met in a studio within Singapore Textile Centre. “My brows are natural,” he assured me, grinning. As it turns out, I wasn’t the only person to have asked him that.
The name “Dew Francis” may not appear in the everyday lexicon. But it is a term that many young Singaporeans would find familiar on YouTube. For this is, after all, one of the four names (or should I say voices?) behind the popular, risqué online talk show Real Talk.
For the uninitiated, Real Talk is the kind of talk show that veers toward the controversial part of the human experience. And yet it is not the sort that spews derogatory and scurrilous content. It is, as its name suggests, real talk. An open conversation between a group of friends. Helmed by local media agency GRVTY Media and hosted on Millennials of Singapore’s YouTube channel, content for the talk show runs the gamut from trying a fellow co-host’s breast milk to trying a threesome. As of writing this article, the Real Talk playlist has since garnered more than 1.2 million views.
And here he is. Seated right in front of me, Dew Francis in the flesh.
“I feel like my entire life is online,” Dew marveled. “When we first started the show, I’d thought I needed to place three of my closest friends with me because we are going to share secrets that no one else is going to hear,” Dew added, referring to the initial planning stages for the show. For the most part, Dew is not wrong. In the span of two years and 42 episodes, the 28-year-old has been a bedrock for the show, maintaining his attendance in most episodes despite the occasional changes to its lineup of hosts. Its last episode was aired on June 3, 2020. And by these accounts, Dew could have positioned himself to have revealed more than he hoped for.
While most talk show hosts feel the pressure to take on multiple hats and personalities on screen, Dew and his team have remained true to themselves on- and off-screen. “I have always been the what-you-see-is-what-you-get kind of person. Whatever you see on Real Talk, I’m that guy.”
Dew had a rocky childhood and like most teenagers, displayed teenage rebellion. When he was younger, Dew lived with his elder brother who is three years older than him. His parents had filed for a divorce; his mother had moved out of the household while his father began working overseas. In many instances, he became a huge bulk of his brother’s responsibility. “(My brother) became the father figure I needed throughout my teenage years,” Dew said wistfully. “And because my dad wasn’t there for the most part, I started doing a lot of young people things, like skipping school and picking up smoking.”
Even so, the then-teenager was able count his lucky stars for there existed an additional pillar of support who would keep a watchful eye on him throughout his school years. In a recent video collaboration with the Ministry of Education, Dew revealed that he is (and forever will be) indebted to his form teacher, Mr Tham.
“Then, Mr Tham was teaching a class of 20 people and all 20 of us were rebellious. And yet, he made sure to take care of us and also made sure he knew our families and backgrounds. That takes a lot, right?” Dew recounted. “Mr Tham taught me to never give up on someone. Because someday, they will become somebody too.”
Today, Dew still holds on to that rebellious spirit. He told me it never really left him and that he somehow has kept it tame, only to occasionally direct it at fruitful pursuits—whether it be creating new content or doing the things he loves.
As we wrapped up our interview, the content creator teased of something new in the making. He refused to divulge any other information, but there was a glint his eyes. If anything, this is likely content that we are all familiar with.
“I don’t think I’ve made it yet. I’m still trying to make it,” Dew said, breaking into a smile as his signature arched brows arching a little higher. “There’s still a long way to go.”
Hey Dew, how has the recent circuit breaker been?
I would rate it 7/10. I lost an extra 6kg also launched my own YouTube channel, including The SaffyDew show.
How would you describe yourself when no one is watching?
I would say …. weird. I can be a lot of things. Some days, I just can’t stop doing things. Be it watching videos, working out or sometimes, I even have my own “Fashion Show” and put outfits together just to see how they look.Then there are the days when I’d just lie on my bed and stare at my fan for hours.
What content inspires you?
Witty humor, reality and just videos that bring out one’s personality and talent.
What does creativity mean to you?
I see creativity as a form of language. One’s creativity can tell you a lot of things about that person.
Apart from that, it’s the execution. Everyone is creative in their own ways. It’s how people execute it and have that finalproduct live and breathe that captivate me. I get very impressed if someone does that well.
What’s your best memory of Singapore?
(Not because this is a National Day campaign) But I would say the NE-show I attended when I was Primary 5. Who doesn’t remember singing “Home” loudly and feeling extremely patriotic at the same time?
What do you do when you are procrastinating?
Lying down on my bed and watching my fan spin.
What’s your worst habit?
If I really need to choose one… I would say I’m extremely fickle-minded. Is that even a habit?
What embarrasses you?
Failure. I think that explains itself.
What’s lacking in the content creation scene in Singapore?
Culture Representation. While there is some, I think we need more.
When and what was the happiest moment of your life?
When I found my first advertising job. For someone with no papers in Singapore, being able to find a job like that … it’s a huge achievement!
How will you be spending national day this year?
The same way for the past many years. Over at a friend’s place watching the parade!
What is one word that describes staying in Singapore?
What do you think is your life purpose?
I don’t think I figured this out yet. In time to come, I will!