Meet the Singer Who Auditioned on YouTube and Made It into ‘Crazy Rich Asians’

“Crazy Rich Asians” will not be the same without the soulful voice that owned its opening and closing credits.

That voice belongs to 22-year-old Cheryl Koh, who snagged a role in the box office hit after a winning audition on YouTube.

A native of Malaysia, Koh jumped at the opportunity to be part of “Crazy Rich Asians” when Warner Bros. announced a worldwide casting call in December 2016.

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“When I heard about the casting, I thought this would be a really good chance for me. I didn’t have anything to lose,” Koh told Glamour in a recent interview.

“And when I read the script, I felt like being in Los Angeles and being Malaysian would give me a chance. I thought, Maybe they won’t have to fly me to LA for the audition, so that will help!”

The casting call required participants to post a two-minute audition video on Facebook, Twitter or YouTube using the hashtag #CrazyRichAsiansCasting.

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“The acting part took up most of the time; I only had 15 seconds to do a ‘hidden talent.’ I memorized the script and then chose a song to reflect my soulful singing type,” Koh said.

Koh, who goes by Cheryl K on YouTube, came up with an amazing rendition of Jessie J’s “Mamma Knows Best.”

She almost took the whole thing down for some reason, but thought, “whatever happens, happens.”

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Apparently, keeping the video was a wise decision. A year later, Warner Bros. got back with an invitation for her to sing a 1959 track called “Money,” originally performed by Barrett Strong.

“It was [director] Jon M. Chu who saw my audition and asked them to contact me. Of course, I was jumping up and down.

“Jon said, ‘Cheryl, I have good news for you.’ And I replied, ‘Am I going to cry?’”

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In her own distinctive flair, Cheryl sang “Money” in two versions — English and Mandarin, the former featuring “Crazy Rich Asians” star Awkwafina.

“‘Money’ talks about how badly you want and need money, despite having everything else. It’s actually a very old Motown song by Barrett Strong, written by Janie Bradford and Berry Gordy Jr and has since been popularised by The Beatles and Bruno Mars,” she told the New Straits Times.

Speaking to Female Mag, Cheryl recalled how Chu helped her while recording the song.

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“Awkwafina recorded her rap separately from me because she was in New York at the time for ‘Oceans 8.’ I only got to finally meet her in person during one of the photo shoots. Jon (the director) was so fun to work with in the recording studio! He gave me a lot of pointers and tips,” she told Glamour.

OK I CAN’T KEEP THIS A SECRET ANYMORE!! MAJOR ANNOUNCEMENT HERE: Remember the #CrazyRichAsiansCasting worldwide audition earlier last year? Well, PRAISE GOD! YA GIRL GOT IT :’)!! I am extremely excited to announce that I will be SINGING A HUGE SONG that is featured in the highly anticipated Hollywood @wbpictures movie, “CRAZY RICH ASIANS” @crazyrichasians (Based on the Best-selling novel by @kevinkwanbooks )!! It was an honor and great pleasure working with Director @jonmchu and the WB team, and being a part of such a big movement #makinghistory ! The movie is so amazing and I can’t wait for you guys to see it for yourselves. SEE YOU IN THE CINEMAS THIS AUGUST 2018!! Thank you to everyone who has been so supportive of my dreams and journey. You guys made this happen – #DreamsDoComeTrue P.S: Lookout for my name “Cheryl K” when the credits roll 😉 (AM FINALLY CROSSING OUT THIS BUCKET LIST GOAL OF MINE LOL!) Starring: @constancewu , @henrygolding , @michelleyeoh_official , @awkwafina , @gemma_chan , @funnyasiandude , @kenjeong , @nicosantos , @pangeerz and more. #crazyrichasiansmovie #crazyrichasians #jonmchu #constancewu #kevinkwan #crazy #cra #warnerbros #warnerbrospictures #wbpictures #singaporean #malaysian #singapore #malaysia #hollywood #losangeles #singer #singing #music #studio @warnerbrossg @warnerbrosmalaysia #warnerbrossg #warnerbrosmalaysia

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“I remember him saying, ‘Cheryl, I want you to growl as much as you can and sing with your greatest energy because I want people to feel like they want to jump out of their seats during the Opening of the movie.’”

As it turned out, “Money” would play at the opening and closing credits of the highly-anticipated movie, effectively making Cheryl’s voice one to remember.

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When u hear yr own voice on the BIG SCREEN and see yr name appear twice when the credits roll.. that’s when you know you’re CRAZY dreaming! 😂❤️🙏🏼 . . . #CRAZYRICHASIANS Red Carpet Pre-Screening last night was amazing!! Thank you @wbpictures & @jonmchu for making this happen for me! :’) To all my friends who came to support me last night, thank you thank you thank you! 💕 Means the world to me. Sorry didn’t get pics w/ everyone but u know who you are. Loving our photos here 😉 . . . ONE MORE MONTH TILL THIS MOVIE HITS THEATRES WORLDWIDE! CANT WAIT!! Follow @crazyrichasians for more updates! P.S: Did u know @kevinkwanbooks “Crazy Rich Asians” is the #1 New York Times Bestseller this week?! HUGE CONGRATS!! ❤️ . . . #redcarpet #warnerbros #prescreening #crazyrichasiansmovie #crazyrichasianscasting #wbpictures #iheartradio @iheartradio #dreamsdocometrue #ootd #asianrepresentation #malaysia #singapore #losangeles #hollywood #usc #fighton #usctrojans #uscalumni

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The Malaysian singer has received plenty of support since the film’s release.

“I am very grateful for the support I’ve been getting from friends, family, and even random strangers who message me and tell me they like my song. It’s very encouraging for someone like me, coming all the way from Malaysia to Los Angeles and never expecting something like this would happen.”

Needless to say, the movie’s success has turned Cheryl from just another YouTuber to an emerging talent. The graduate of the University of Southern California is now looking for an agent, a publicist and a record label.

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“I need to find an agent, a publicist, a record label since I’m going to be doing more things. I spend most days replying to emails, calls, and doing interviews now. It’s tiring, but I love it.”

She’s glad to tick few items off her bucket list.

“It has always been on my bucket list to hear my voice in a film and see my name scroll up during the end credits – never would I imagine it would come so soon. I’ve never been more proud to be Asian and sing in two languages with such soul.”

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Feature Images via YouTube / Cheryl K (Left) and Instagram / @cherylkapuchinana (Right)

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