Details. That’s where the devil – or God, depending on which version you prefer – are found. Details are also Sonya “Kat” Singha’s key concept; one she fastidiously applies to all aspects of life – whether it’s career, relationship or life’s indulgences. “I appreciate every detail in my life. It’s made me the person I am,” she confesses. Kat turns 24 in April – on April 8 (“Do you need that detail?) – but her TV series (an eighth series is coming out this year), roles as brand ambassador and numerous modelling gigs are more than enough to establish her as a force in the entertainment industry.
She launched her career as one part of a singing duo with her sister, Pat, at the age of 14. “Even as a kid, I knew what I wanted to do,” she admits. At 19, she joined Thailand’s leading entertainment channel, Channel 7. Thus began a series of successful roles in soaps. Her specialty lies in playing plucky heroines – not too far from her current disposition.
In this year’s newest release, Dog Yah Nai Phayu (literally, “Grass in the midst of a storm”), Kat plays a somtam vendor with meager beginnings, who overcomes obstacles with pure moxy. “I’d love for everyone to see this. The character I’m playing faces a lot of hardships in her life – she’s got such pitiful beginnings – but she’s fierce! It’s such a departure from my real life.” Perhaps it’s not such a departure. A TV series, particularly for Thailand, churns out episodes at a mind-numbing pace. On a particular day, a hundred or more crew and cast’s working hours can be prolonged (or shortened) by their lead heroine’s skill.
“Those on a monthly salary – the lighting crew, for instance – work extremely hard. When I’m done with my lines, I can go home, but they have to stay behind and pack up. I really appreciate them and the hard work they do,” she says. “It sure makes me appreciate my days off!” Sonya’s own work ethic stands out, too – and is what made Prestige pick her as one of our youngest cover personalities ever. It had a lot to do also with her unusual combination of drive and integrity – and knowing what she wants from life at a very young age.
Case in point: as seventh grader in Bangkok’s prestigious St. Joseph Convent, Kat decided to transfer schools. “It wasn’t me,” she confesses. “I grew up with rules. My school was really strict. Prayers in the morning. No layering your hair. No bobs. Two braids, one on each side,” she recalls. By Year 9, however, she began to chafe at the restrictions, and decided to transfer to The Regents Bangkok, an international school.
“I wasn’t a perfectly well-mannered student at St. Joseph’s,” she says. “But when I transferred to The Regents, I was a complete nerd. I was the only one with black hair – everyone else had coloured theirs!” Her parents, father Padol and mother Nisa, own real estate businesses. Her younger sister and ex-singing-partner, Piraya or “Pat”, also has a business in the same industry. Piraya is only one year younger, and the two share ownership of online fashion brands Kimber and Jetset. The sisterly bond was only boosted by their duo songster careers and continues, Kat says.
“We fight all the time, but it’s where we get angry for two minutes and then we forget about it immediately. We automatically just forgive each other. My sister and I share friend groups, and everyone knows her,” she says. “She’s beautiful – much more beautiful than me.” In between hectic filming schedules and all-day shoots, Kat graduated with a degree in Communication Arts, which she hand-waves away modestly, eager to talk about her latest adventure.
“What I’m excited to tell you about is the course I’m taking at Dusit Thani’s Le Cordon Bleu culinary school. Anyone who follows me on Instagram or Facebook will know – I love eating! I love travelling. I care about life’s little details.” What once began as a love for fine dining turned into appreciation. From appreciation, she says, grew curiosity about the finer details of cooking – and now, dedication. She spends nearly 12 hours every Saturday, apron tied and knives sharpened, on her feet in the cooking school. Her graduation is in six months.
Is she planning to start a restaurant? Become a chef? Go into consulting? No, she says. She simply enjoys learning about the ingredients, processes and the small, secret details that go into making delicious food. With that sense of curiosity and adventure, it’s no surprise that Kat is also an avid extreme sports fan. She Jet Skis, trains Muay Thai and also heads to the shooting range on occasion. Her latest indulgent purchase, a Jet Ski, is one she carefully considered.
“Even the Jet Ski I bought is an expression of myself. I take into account every detail, and I’m a perfectionist, even with a Jet Ski! Mine has a wood panel on the back – the way that yachts do – and cream and brown upholstery,” she says. No dreary, carpeted gym for Kat – she’s never enjoyed time there. “Everyone says to go to the gym, but I’m skeptical,” she says, shaking her head. “Just head to the gym purely for health purposes?”
It’s no wonder one of her indulgences is not material, but experiential. As much as she loves the beach and mountains, it’s the lakes that nourish her spirit. On weekends, when the weeks have been hectic, the chaos and stress unceasing, and her life seems too full, she heads to the glassy, still lake behind the Bhumibol Dam in Kanchanaburi. “Most of my fans don’t know that, although I might look chill like most teenagers, I actually spend a lot of time thinking,” she says.
There, she revs her Jet Ski and heads out onto the mirror-like water; out where there are only livestock grazing the banks. She skims the water while playing her favourite music, enjoying the solitude. “I spend the entire day at the dam and head home at night. That’s how I refresh myself. Just being in the water – I’m the happiest I can be,” she says. “It’s an incredible feeling… I get to reflect.”
Another source of comfort for Kat is her boyfriend of two years, whom she declines to name. “He’s in my Instagram photos, but I don’t tag him,” she says, lowering her voice. It’s to give him some modicum of privacy, since he’s not in the entertainment business. It’s official – he’s met her parents and it’s public – but not to be broadcast to the masses.
“He keeps loving me more each day – never less, always increasing. He’s like my family, my friend, as well as my boyfriend. Every day, we give each other only positive things.” Through him, she’s also learned to trade stocks, including day-trading. With two brands of clothing under her belt as well, she seems to us to be eyeing the start to a business empire. “I don’t consider acting as my main career. It’s something I feel inspired to do, and it’s a small part of what makes me Kat,” she says.
She would have plenty of experience, in any case. Sonya is a brand ambassador of not only local makeup company Mistine but also luxury skincare giant, La Mer. She’s not concerned with taking any strong measures, like surgery, to maintain her appearance. “You know what I think? People aren’t just beautiful because they get facials or treatments. It has to come out from inside,” Kat says.
She turns her attention to today’s shoot, which features one of her most loved brands, Cartier. She says her love for the brand grew not only from aesthetic appeal – for her, it is a symbol of love as well.
“I’ve got to admit, I’ve always been a regular client. My first piece was when I was 17 or 18 – my mother gave me a Cartier Love bracelet,” she says. “It’s more than just a bracelet, more than an accessory. It represents love; it is a lifestyle, it’s an expression of who you are.” Because she owns many pieces of the French maison’s signature lines, Kat’s now looking forward to acquiring Cartier’s rarer cactus-themed pieces.
“People who know Cartier will know that this or that piece is Cartier,” she continues. “But those who aren’t real fans, they won’t know because it’s not ostentatious. It’s clean and elegant.” Those who aren’t in the know when it comes to the details of the brand’s signature looks, she says, will be in the dark.
What else is on the cards for Kat? Can she divulge a few details? Perhaps a jump to the international arena? For someone so ambitious, someone who enjoys the finer details of life, and someone with a quickly burgeoning career, she paints her future in broad strokes. “I have some idea already, but I don’t want to say it out loud yet,” she says. “I’m confident that if we do the best we can today, we’ll reap the results in the future… If I focus on doing my work as best as I can, opportunities will come my way.”