Joanne Peh: Women are seen as ‘pleasure tools’ and they’re exploiting it

When Joanne Peh presides over the set of Last Madame, you can be sure she doesn’t do it in a metaphorical way.

As the owner, ringleader and chief seductress of the 1920s brothel in the risque Toggle Originals period drama, Peh leaves no one in any doubt about who’s running the show.

It comes as no surprise that in real life as well, CNA Luxury’s November digital cover star is every bit the independent woman – and she relishes the freedom to define that on her own terms.

“Sometimes, if we just take a step back and look at our own femininity, that could also be a strength on its own,” Peh said.

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Image: Joanne Peh

“As women, our strength is also in the fact that we are softer and more feminine, rather than trying to be strong and on par with the men,” she continued. “In fact, I think, leave that to the men. They can’t be soft and sensual like we can be.”

“I think we play a different role in society. That comes through in the show – you could say the women are seen as pleasure tools, but at the same time… women are using this softer side of them to be in a stronger position of power. That’s something we may forget in this modern time.”

Another thing she has in common with her character is that they both live by their own rules and principles. “I’m not afraid when people step on my turf and disagree with me,” said the 36-year-old. “I put them in their place.”

Perfectionism may well be the driving force behind her steady pursuit of excellence, whether it’s as an actress or as a person. After 17 years in the industry, and contributing to it in various ways, the biggest lesson she’s learned is to take every step fearlessly.

“When we are doing something for the first time or when there are no precedents, it will be challenging, and there will be setbacks and discouragement along the way. We have two choices: One is to duck our heads low and follow in someone else’s footsteps.

“The second is to push through in the face of adversity. The former isn’t any safer, because all of us have a unique code – what works for someone else may not work for us. The only way to get any kind of feedback for ourselves is to do it and then learn from it. I think it is important to develop a growth mindset.”