Current and former employees of Singaporean YouTube channel Night Owl Cinematics (NOC) have spoken up about their harsh treatment under their boss, Sylvia Chan, in an article by Must Share News. This comes after anonymous accusations about Sylvia’s alleged abusive behaviour surfaced, and Sylvia's subsequent apology.
In interviews with MS News, NOC’s former lead executive producer Felicia said, “My teammates questioned their self-worth. I’ve stayed up so many nights with crying teammates, doubting their sanity, their purpose, wondering if they are being ‘over-sensitive’, are they actually being humiliated or is this just…normal? Whether she (Sylvia) is right, whether they are useless.”
After the MS News report, an anonymous website that claimed to be authored by current and former employees of NOC was published on 19 October. The blog page contains more alleged grievances of NOC staff against Sylvia. It included a 10-minute video clip of an NOC Zoom meeting in which Ryan Tan, the company's co-founder and Sylvia's ex-husband, criticised her for her "management style"; she apparently made employees work till the wee hours and turned up at shoots late.
In the MS News article, people who had worked with Sylvia, including NOC talent Nicole and ex-employee Preston Yeo, said that in one incident, she threw a water bottle that allegedly hit one of the crew members, when the group was making too much noise.
Yeo, who started work as Sylvia's personal assistant but later became a project manager, said that Sylvia instructed him to “help the crew when he was free”, but later scolded him with the F word for helping the crew.
After allegedly getting screamed at by Sylvia, Nicole “recalled trembling anxiously and not being able to eat even after they had wrapped up for the day.”
Screenshots of NOC’s group chat also showed an employee saying they “can’t do this anymore” and had “lost [their] mind,” to which Sylvia replied with “so unreliable”.
Ex-talent Michelle told MS News that, four years after leaving NOC, she was still on medication and mood stabilisers, which she attributed to “the anxiety she developed while working at the company.”
Michelle also recalled that when she confided to Sylvia that she was suffering from depression, Sylvia was indifferent and unsympathetic about her mental health.
Ryan, who is now merely an employee of NOC after he and Sylvia divorced in 2020, was said by employees to be “NOC’s unofficial HR department”, according to the MS News piece. He took the role of the “mediator and barrier between Sylvia and employees until ‘things turned nasty post-divorce’.”
Felicia said, “At some point, he couldn’t do more than he already did because whatever he tried to defend, or whoever he tried to speak for, just got marked further with a bull’s eye.”
NOC is popular for its lifestyle and entertainment videos, which regularly get close to 200,000 views, with the most popular videos getting millions of views. Sylvia is one of Singapore's top influencers with over 220,000 followers on Instagram.