Director Jack Neo apologised for having a transgender actress portray a character named “Amanda Man” in his upcoming Ah Girls Go Army movie.
The character is being played by 27-year-old transgender actress, Kelly Kimberly Cheong – although following the backlash, the name has since been changed.
But the new name of the character has yet to be revealed just yet.
Ah Girls Go Army is director Jack Neo’s fifth foray into the Ah Boys To Men movie franchise, which sees females serving national service due to a shortage of men in the future.
Cheong took to Instagram to share a photo of herself clad in her army uniform, with her nametag reading “Amanda Man”.
Netizens called out the presumed transphobia and interpreted the name as targeting transgender women for pretending to be women.
Took it in her stride
Cheong took the comments in her stride at first, responding to some of the comments with humour.
However, she later raised the issue with Jack Neo and highlighted the backlash to him.
Speaking to AsiaOne, Cheong said that she initially thought that “Amanda” was a very normal name and that she didn’t think too much into it.
But then she started wondering if it was appropriate for her character to be named as such.
Cheong then said that Jack Neo explained that the character of Amanda Man was supposed to be a tomboy in the movie, with the surname Man injected to portray masculinity.
She will be playing a character who is a cisgender (born female at birth) tomboy.
Jack Neo apologises
Director Jack Neo then apologised for the name, explaining that Cheong was cast for the role because of her fighting ability and not her gender identity.
He acknowledged that some people are not comfortable with the name having interpreted it to be referencing her transgender.
Neo then said that the name will be changed.
Ah Girls Go Army is due to be released on 1 February 2022.
Images source: @kkelzx on TikTok and Instagram