The How-Do-You Series is an ongoing collection of interviews I’ve conducted with creators. In each edition, I’ll ask (pretty much) the same three questions. The goal is to show the different ways that different people tackle problems fairly common to everyone who works in the arts.
If you live in Singapore and Cassandra Spykerman looks familiar, it’s because you’ve almost definitely seen her work before. It’s hard not to. She’s been in a variety of shows, from comedies like Meet the MP to thrillers like Third Rail. You might also have seen her performing with the band, Supersonic, or even at her own solo shows at venues like The Esplanade.
I know Cassandra Spykerman as Cassie though. Cassie is practically family. We’ve known each other for way more than half our lives – and in that time, I’ve seen her grow from a wild and silly kid to a teenager determined to follow her dreams to an adult who’s living those dreams as a working actor and singer.
1. How do you get ready for a project or even just a scene? Do you have a ritual or a routine that helps you get into the right frame of mind, or an exercise that helps you build momentum?
CS: Usually before a project, the very first thing I do is research the year the project is set in, the character traits and watch films or series that could potentially bring inspiration for the role I’m given.
Right before a scene on set, I would usually read the scene during my commute.Then when I get into wardrobe, I would read the scene again, run the scene with my scene partner and usually take two minutes to get into the mood.
It highly depends on the scene itself. If it’s an emotional scene, the ritual is different. But the common thing I do before any type of scene is take a really deep breath before the director calls, “Action!” Inhaling all the inspiration I have gathered and exhaling me – Cass’ worries, struggles, insecurities, anything negative. And when I open my eyes, I am the character in that particular scene.
There are also times where I don’t feel like I’m good enough anymore. The most important thing is to always take care of myself – to remind myself that this is the life. It’s a rollercoaster.Cassandra Spykerman
2. How do you overcome creative fatigue? How do you stay in love with what you do, or how do you get out of a creative slump?
CS: Wow. You know, I love my craft so much that I hardly ever get sick of it. However, there are times where it’s low season, where I don’t really have any roles to play with. This is the period where I watch animation. Cartoons, anime, stop motion. Anything that is not as realistic as people watching. Also, I try to enrol myself in acting courses, so that I’m still using my instrument – oiling it as much as I can, so I don’t lose the practice.
There are also times where I don’t feel like I’m good enough anymore. The most important thing is to always take care of myself – to remind myself that this is the life. It’s a rollercoaster. You’ll head up and down, in and out of loops. Eventually, we get off it and reflect and see what other rides we can enjoy.
Reading helps too. Being around friends and loved ones who understand me and the work I do. Having a strong support system really aids me during times where I have the inability to express myself.
3. How do you balance the creative with the administrative? As a full-time actor and singer, how much of your day is devoted to answering emails or sending out invoices?
CS: To be very honest, I only do the administrative work when it comes to acting. And it does not usually take up much of my time. Relatively it takes up only about 5-10% of my day, depending on how many emails and invoices. The trick is to have a template ready, so you don’t have to think much about the formalities and focus on the important details instead.
Follow Cassandra on Instagram, or watch her shows and short films here.