Mar 08, 2012|
I am a disciplined person, and I have this trait because of my childhood experiences. I have five siblings. My parents had to go out to work, and everyone had his or her job to do at home. After school, I had to take my two younger brothers home. Then I started doing my homework. At around six o’clock, I had to start cooking for the whole family.
In “Rabbit Hole,” I play a mother who lost her son in a car accident. Before the rehearsal, we visited Comfort Care Concern Group [a charity that helps bereaved families]. There were four mothers who had lost their daughters. The sharing session was so depressing, and during the two and a half hours, my tears kept flowing.
Playing a mother is complicated. First, I don’t have a son. And I don’t have a son who was killed in an accident. But I get a lot of resources from these mothers and I understand their plight. It’s the work of actresses to find resources, use their imaginations, do research and observe others [to understand their roles].
Poon Chan-leung [So’s boyfriend of 17 years] is also in the play. We understand each other’s positions very well, and we strictly separate work from leisure. There are no arguments or troubles like everyone imagines.
I’ve fallen in love with every role I’ve played before. It feels like I have shared bits of my life with every one of them.
Working in art is a lonely business. Art is a very subjective thing. You are the only one who best understands your own thoughts and actions, and these things can’t be shared with others. Some people may not approve of you, and you have to insist and believe in yourself. Otherwise, you will be defeated and can’t continue on your way.
It feels very satisfying if the audience applauds and recognizes your effort. But I don’t aim for such things.
An actress should be capable of working in every kind of medium, including theater, television and film.
As a child, I got a lot of chances to perform. I sang, danced, debated, told stories... I didn’t realize what performance was, nor did I think that I was very talented. I didn’t have stage fright or anything.
All my classmates wanted to get jobs at the Hong Kong Repertory Theatre. I only filed my application after all of them had done so. I don’t plan a lot, and I go with the flow.
It was a risky decision to join TVB in 1994. At that time, I was doing quite well. Because of [the play] “I Have a Date with Spring,” TVB asked me and Gardner Tse [another theater actor] to come to casting. Later, they offered me a contract. I had to choose.
I was struggling. The pay at TVB was much lower than that at Hong Kong Repertory Theatre. It was 50 percent less! I wondered how I could make a living.
At that time, actors and actresses were very segregated. TV actors just worked in TV; movie actors just worked in movies; theater actors just worked in theater. People thought that theater actors and actresses were freaks.
I had a lot of difficulty adapting to television—low pay, lack of sleep, total disruption of my life cycle. You don’t know anyone at the station. Did people think I was a freak? No, because no one knows anybody. I was just nobody!
I think criticism about the low quality of TVB programs is justified. This is part of the reason why I act in fewer TVB dramas. I feel like the productions are not up to standard.
I had absolutely no interest in a culinary show. TVB thought that I could do it.
For “Kitchen Diva Louisa,” [a 2010 food show starring So] I wrote down plots and ideas for every episode of the show. I wanted to go to a prison, an elderly home. I wanted to visit children of ethnic minorities. The executives listened to me.
People have misunderstood me. I don’t really think that I am excellent at cooking. I don’t even like cooking in particular. I am not a chef, nor am I a gourmand.
It is a good development for more free television channels to open in Hong Kong. The audience will have more options.
There are professional and inept actors in television and theater. But the percentage of incompetent actors is higher in television. Theater actors are better trained, and they have a better grasp of acting. Actors at TVB come from a variety of backgrounds, and not everyone has gone through professional training.