We are shooting on set with Iman Fandi, the sole daughter of Singapore football icon Fandi Ahmad and South Africa‑born former model Wendy Jacobs, and it is evident that the 23‑year‑old has inherited the work ethic her parents were famously known for. She says yes to—and nails with ease—the boldest of looks that some may consider to be outlandish and even with a wind blower billowing at full force in her face, she powers on, determined to get the shot.
That she has managed to hold her own and chart her own course while growing up in a famous family under the country’s gaze, not to mention an all‑boys household where all four of her brothers have chosen to follow in their father’s footsteps in football, speak volumes of her character. The multi‑hyphenate, who was a track‑and‑field athlete before pivoting into modelling and then music, lets on: “I’ve always been the creative sibling and being the only girl in my family, there was always a bit of pressure to step out of my mum’s shadow.”
Recalling her beginnings in the modelling industry, she describes herself as introverted and “very much on the shy side”, but notes that that has all changed now. “Growing up in the industry has pushed me to be more extroverted, and I think it’s completely okay to pursue a career in an industry that contrasts [with] your personality. I believe it’s important to keep trying different things and go for what you want in life—that’s something I really live by,” she says, speaking with a calm cadence and quiet confidence one does not often find in someone quite as young as her.
She takes that same approach to music. While her signature sound has always leaned towards sultry R&B beats, she has been feeling out different genres with every new tune she puts out. Clock her career‑making 2021 debut single Timeframe, the chart‑dominating song she wrote herself—without the intention or pressure of ever releasing it to the public (it started out purely as a birthday resolution), but which led to her signing with her current label Universal Music Singapore—that feels like a knowing riff on the early 2010s pop R&B genre; her sophomore effort Love Me Little More, released in October that same year and which she described in an interview as “a love song with a slight tropical beat”; and her third single Top Bop, dropped earlier this year and featuring a play into a new vocal delivery style: rap.
It is with her fourth and latest single, though, that Iman really breaks out of her comfort zone. A far cry from what one would expect coming from the so‑far musically genteel young woman whose soulful, ethereal voice we last heard on stage at the 2023 National Day Parade (where she crooned Bunga Sayang), Baseball Bat is a synth‑heavy, house‑inspired track that shows, in the singer’s own words, “a different side of myself”. “As much as I’m an advocate for spreading positivity, I want the song to remind people that it’s okay to be in those moments where you want to feel everything, you want to be angry, you want to smash something, because we shouldn’t invalidate how we’re feeling and try to hide it as well,” she shares.
Iman has certainly had her fair share of swallowing grievances. Like anyone else growing up with an online presence, she has had her fair share—perhaps more because she has been under the limelight since young as part of what is considered by many to be Singapore’s royal soccer family—of unsolicited opinions being hurled her way. But she handles the noise with poise. “Being in the public eye made me more wary of what I put out in the world. You don’t have to like me or hate me, but I just want everything to be neutral,” she says. “But of course, there are times when you have to accept that things are never going to be just neutral.”
The journey to this self‑assurance has been an ongoing process that began in her childhood. “I admit, I’d love to please everybody if I could, but I’ve learnt that I can’t control other people’s opinions. It definitely forced me to grow up faster than other kids, and I missed out on certain experiences that normal kids got to experience,” she says. “I used to look at negative comments and feel bad about myself, but as I’ve grown up, I know what matters to me. A lot of people are held back by fear, and having the childhood that I had and all the criticism, I’ve been able to be more open to different perspectives and people, which has allowed me to move forward with more courage.”
Part of that stoicism Iman embodies also comes from her pursuit of inner peace: listening to life coach Jay Shetty’s podcasts, keeping her support systems close, and never letting the pitfalls of comparison steal her joy. As she says, “we can only compare ourselves to who we were yesterday”. Truer words have never been spoken.
Photography ZANTZ HAN
Styling GREGORY WOO
Hair and makeup SHA SHAMSI, USING CHANEL BEAUTY AND KEUNE HAIRCOSMETICS
Styling assistant YULIA SEE