“No man is an island” or should we say ‘No woman is an island’ too- indeed, while we can be great at what we do, it is always important to have a group of people we can confide in to reach greater heights. From school projects, to sports teams, to orchestra bands, we are greater than the sum of each part of a team. This year, the Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF) in Singapore declared 2021 as a year of celebrating women, and what came to mind was to talk about a fairly recent phenomenon that swept waves in the entertainment industry: the forming of Refund Sisters, made up of powerhouses Lee Hyo Ri, Uhm Jung-Hwa, Jessi and Hwasa.
A supergroup helmed by artistes in their own fields and eras, these ladies were a shining example of mutual support, creating a safe space for each other to excel in their own unique ways. While gathering high-profile stars to form a supergroup may sound like a potential clash of egos, Refund Sisters only showed respect for each other while not being afraid to be themselves. How then can we also be part of the solution, to lift another up and create a toxic-free environment?
The first meeting of these stars had an electrifying energy about it. Unsurprising, since they are successful in their own fields and generations, known for having strong artistic personalities. After a bit of chit-chat and getting to know each other, they dove straight into determining who should be the leader. This revealed a clear dynamic between the members, of who was confident, who preferred to take the backseat, who was the mediator. However, we can see how they communicated openly and honestly from the get-go, sharing why they should or should not take on the role. They put aside age, seniority and experience, and kept the discussion judgement-free while giving each other the benefit of doubt. Eventually, even Jung-Hwa (the most experienced in the group) felt that Hyo Ri should be their leader and everyone went along with it. We see throughout their journey that they always respected this decision, which makes that unspoken bond even stronger.
While all of them exude major “boss” energy, Refund Sisters worked because they were not afraid to show the different sides of themselves, even the vulnerable ones. Along the way, as they got closer, they let their feelings be known. Jung-Hwa overcoming her challenge of hitting the strong notes she used to hit was a major breakthrough which came about because of her openness to share her struggles. At the same time, the other 3 never held back on the praises and admiration they had for her as an artiste that has paved the way, giving her the confidence to not just record, but even perform live! The Sisters also never hid their passion for the stage. They knew they loved performing, what they were good at and what they were weaker in, and always expressed it unapologetically. No humble brags or putting yourself down – just pure passion which definitely drove each other to keep outdoing the previous rehearsal and show. Perhaps we can practice more of that, being aware of where we stand and letting all of yourself be seen.
A special mention should also go to the host of the show, Yoo Jae-Suk. Acting as their producer (with the hilarious alias Jimi Yoo), he never let his position of the “Nation’s MC” get in the way of allowing the 4 ladies to take centre stage. Jae-Suk knew how to navigate his roles, and truly had the best interests of the artistes and the group in mind. He humbly supported the Refund Sisters without being condescending and made it his mission to ensure they can perform to their hearts’ content. All while respecting their decision to “Don’t Touch Me”! To the guys reading this, don’t shy away from being a Jimi when the opportunity calls for it!
To put aside your ego doesn’t mean to make yourself seem smaller – there is always room for more and we should create these opportunities to make each other the best version of ourselves. With the right group of people, you can definitely get the refunds you need!
Start practicing now: share this article with someone you feel has the attributes to be one of your ‘refund sister’!