[Boon Chan | The Straits Times]

“I’ve always been comfortable in my skin as I’m a dancer and I do a lot of modelling as well.”

The script of local erotic thriller Siew Lup – rated R21 for “frequent depiction of simulated sexual scenes coupled with nudity”, according to the Films Classification Database – would have been enough to scare off most women, but not first-time actress Rebecca Chen.

Speaking at a press conference at Hotel Vagabond on Monday, she says: “I’ve always been comfortable in my skin as I’m a dancer and I do a lot of modelling as well.”

Chen, 26, plays the lead character, former prostitute Mia, who falls for a caring funeral director Wu (Louis Wu) while stuck in a soured relationship with roast pork seller Quan (Sunny Pang).

After selling out quickly at the Singapore International Film Festival last year, the movie, whose title means “roast meats” in Cantonese, opens in cinemas tomorrow.

Chen says that her “very open-minded” mother, 50, and 25-year old sister will watch it, but not her father, 52 – “he’s not very happy about it, but he’s willing to accept” the situation.

She started out doing Malay cultural dance at the age of 16 as a cocurricular activity and later picked up salsa and pole-dancing. She has performed at clubs such as The Butter Factory and Attica Singapore.

Despite her inexperience in acting, her ability to move won over director Sam Loh, 50. He says: “I see that as a strength for the film, that athleticism and body language.”

He had first approached model and YouTuber Melody Low, 24, for the role of Mia, but was rejected by her. She had appeared in figureflaunting outfits for the local music video Lingo Lingo, but drew the line at appearing topless.

Still, she accepted the role of Xuan, a young woman with a terminal illness, which called for lovemaking scenes with Wu. She says: “I was a little nervous so I drank some alcohol that day to ease my nerves.”

While her parents are “okay” with the film, she does not plan to let her more conservative 84-year-old grandmother know.

Lest you think that the nude scenes were a cinch for Chen, she says that she was not very comfortable with them. “I thought it through a lot and prepared myself emotionally.”