Sunday, October 24, 2010

news 2003 - Steven Ma on Life, Death, Love and Desire

source: 3Weekly 2003 4/22
Translated by Tamaya

26 October is not a birthday of presidents or great men, merely a birthday for some celebrities such as Steven Ma, Aaron Kwok, Chu Mi Mi, Rebecca Lee(李樂詩), and Joyce Chan (陳彥行), to name a few.

Legal name Ma Chee Wai, now Ma Chun Wai, Steven was born in a grassroot family. His father is a former bus driver of the kmb (kwoloon motor bus)  bus line. He grew up in Sum Shui Po Bak Tin Chi. As student in Band 5 at C.M.A.Pre-vocational School (中華廠商會職業先修學校) he scored an 'A' for Art, 'D' for Chinese, 'E' for his English, and U for Maths. After graduating high school, he became Sales Executive with a monthly salary of HKD20,000. He did not have a rich family background for Longman Publishing Co with the monthly salary of about HK$20,000. No illustrious family background or superior academic results, what he has is the Chew Chow people's perseverance, courage and enterprising spirit.

In 1993, he entered a karaoke competition organized by Pioneer Laser Karaoke and won the championship with 'Lei Heong Lan' (tn:Jacky Cheung's song)thus enabling him to sign up with Warner Music. Unfortunately, the promo slogan, "He is not Lai Ming; he's not Jacky Cheung" had him endured their fans' jeers hurting his pride and undermining his self-confidence, and in the end,Warner refusing to renew his contract.

In 1994, on the verge of withdrawing from the entertainment circle, the most important woman in his life appeared, whose guidance helped resurrected his career thereafter riding the fast track.

In July 1999, his most beloved mother died of acute pneumonia complication from nose cancer. He isolated himself at home in self-withdrawal but was later enlightened by a book. He is faithful in love and hopes to meet his true love by age 35. However, his greatest life aspiration is self-actualization. He plans to fully concentrate his career in the publishing industry by age 40. Having seen through life and death, and full of anticipation for romantic love, this is the inner voice of Steven Ma's thirst for knowledge.

"Everlasting Regret" 《長恨歌》 describes Yang Yu Huan's (楊玉環) "natural beauty hard to ignore 天生麗質難自棄」; under Tang Di's(唐滌)pen strokes, Chow Sai Hin is intelligent and resourceful, his thinking straightforward, To him, the obligation to 'bury the late Emperor, enlighten the crown prince' is the real premise of life, even to forgoing the opportunity for matrimony bliss with Princess Cheung Ping in the Purple Jade Mountain boudoir. Through these acts「迎鳳」&「寫表」at all times he displays his resolution to die for a just cause, and his sentiment to cherish love above all. His intellect and martyr spirit are up there with the likes of Wen Tianxiang (文天祥)and Shi Kefa (史可法) superior characters.

Life: A Scholarly Demeanor
Temperament: Refined and Cultured Naturally refined and cultured, as well as charismatic, there is none other more suitable than Steven as the Prince Consort in 'Perish in the name of Love'. Since his portrayal of Kangxi in the 1998 DOMD《鹿鼎記》 the renowned composer, Wei Ran, praised him for his "scholarly look, his extraordinary classy temperament, and his kingly demeanor".

In 1994, Annie Yi(伊能靜), the featured female in Steven's 'Won't be Pessimistic Again'《不再悲觀》 MTV, was full of praise for Steven during her interview last August in Taiwan. She said: "This young man has finally made it through hard work. I'm very happy for him. I believe artists with real ability and real diligence will someday reap their bountiful harvest. Actually TVB had approached me for the role of Fu Yi in 'Where the Legend Begins', unluckily my schedule clashed so didn't have the fate to collaborate with him."

A classy temperament cannot be manufactured with money nor can it be molded through image packaging, that Steven can become TVB first line siu sang,his elegant temperament plays a big part in it. At hearing this, Steven smiles brilliantly, and says: "Since joining the industry, many people have thought that I was highly educated, even being overseas for higher studies, but in actuality I've had only a Form 5 (Grade 11) education. In Form 3, to help out my family I was already working part time at an ice-cream shop selling ice-cream."

Because of filming 'Better Halves', he became friends with Joyce Coi and through her got to know Lung Koon-tin.  He says: "They've both seen my ancient drama's and Cantonese Opera's makeovers, and both praised that I've elegance. That's why till now I'm still surviving, there is still a survival space for me in the entertainment."

Superior temperament is hard to explain, of grassroot family background Steven has three older sisters and a younger one. When he was a young boy, much like Jia Bo Yu (tn: male protagonist) in the novel, "Red Chambers of Dreams", he was well doted by his family. His features refined like an intricate cut jade, growing up amongst females, Steven appeared shy and quiet.  Since he studied in a boys' school he did not have opportunity to get close to girls. It was not until Form 4 through a mutual friend's introduction that he experienced the taste of first love.

Grew up in the midst of jeers
"Some people's impression of me is that I'm very refined and learned, seemingly weak.  Actually, my appearance is deceptive. I'm a very stubborn and strong-willed person. Since I know my formal education is lacking, I could only seek to diligently remedy that deficiency; voracious reading is the most direct method to enhance self-improvement."

Entered entertainment world through a singing competition, Steven's road was littered with thorns, the farther he walked the more despondent he became. He said: "Kevin Cheng and I entered the music industry in the same year. He joined Polygram in March; I signed up with Warner in September.  At that time the fight for Best Newcomer Award was between us. If he got Gold, I would get Silver. If I got Gold the Silver would go to him. If he got Bronze I would come up with nothing all. Because of this slogan: "He's not Lai Ming; he's not Jacky Cheung"! I was jeered on stage. My first stage show was at 尖東東急百貨 (a departmental store).  At that time Polygram had Kevin Cheng, Linda Wong, Lai Ming; Warner had Lui Fong and me.  The minute I stepped onto the stage, the jeers started. With much effort i finished the song, my eyes were already tearing up." 

"I hid myself in the hotel and cried. I was really depressed. In the end, I couldn't take it anymore and went to the hotel bar and drank a can of cold beer, my heart in pain. To prevent my despondence being seen I lowered my head and wept softly. During these three years I was jeered on stage throughout the whole three years; my confidence was in shatters.  My legs even wobbled when on stage. When Warner decided not to renew my contract I made up my mind to leave the entertainment circle."

Benefactor: Catherine Tsang
Nature endows each of us with a special talent. (天生我才必有用) A talented person will eventually be appreciated.  With his career hitting rock bottom, TVB executive, Catherine Tsang, encouraged him to crossover to shooting tv series and  his 1995 Files of Justice IV became his first stepping stone into that sector.  "I want to thank Zhan Jeh for her nurturing. Without her appreciation, Steven Ma would have long vanished from the entertainment circle."

In the 1998 Duke of Mt. Deer, Steven portrayed Emperor Kangxi, which was originally portrayed by his senior, Andy Lau.  During the costumes tryout, a reporter mocked him, "dressed in imperial robe but no princely look."  But Steven did not mind.   "I anticipate a good role for myself. My portrayal of Dr. Joe (陳卓堯)changed my negative image. Many viewers sent letters to me, praising my portrayal of a doctor, but I will not become complacent because a newbie starts from zero but I started from -10, so now my result is reset to zero. I've to start from square one."

In 1999, Ultra Protection's ratings went from bad to worse, and Steven seldom smiled because he was suffering the pain of losing his mom, a 22 year cancer patient, to her disease. What pained him most was he was not there to say his last goodbye to her when she died.  After her death, he isolated himself inside his bedroom,  withdrawn in sorrow he grieved inconsolably.

Death: Cherish the People Around You
"A good friend quoted me an inspiring sentence from a page on death in Teacher Tang Jun Yi's book,  Human Life Experiences (人生之體驗).  "The pain over a loved one's passing is indelible, and no philosophy can console you because it is part of life that must be endured. Having experienced the passing of a loved one, you will henceforth cherish your loved ones around you even more, and also even cherish the people around you. Henceforth, you will grow stronger."『親人的離開是你永遠不能磨滅的痛,但這種痛沒有任何哲學理論安慰你,因為人生中必須要承受,而你經歷過親人的離開,你會更加愛惜你身邊的親人,甚至愛惜你身邊的每個人,從此你就會更加堅強。』

"I was so moved I was in tears. Though the trees are calm and quiet the winds never stop.  Though son still needs parent, parent's not there.  All those consolation platitudes I would have none of them. All useless to me. I started reading Teacher Tang's works.  Regardless 《人生之體驗續篇》or《生物與人生》, they all opened up my mind.  That real life must experience trials, and to understand the cycle of life that includes old age, sickness and death are part of nature."

Towards illness, Steven has profound experiences. He was afflicted with "Panic Attack" disorder four years ago. A kind of neurotic, involuntary tightening of nerves disorders. The symptoms include: dizziness, cold hands and feet, shaky hands, shortness of breath, chest tightness, racing heartbeats. "The main cause comes from stress and the inability to relax. Always on the Get-Ready intense mode. Recently, these past months, I've had relapses, and once, I even had to stay home for 10 days. And there was even this one time when I was getting ready to do a magazine photoshoot when my hand suddenly started shaking uncontrollably so much so I was rushed to Hong Kong Sanatorium and Hospital for medical treatment. "

No wonder Steven feels it's a dog's life in the entertainment circle. He hopes to retire by age 40 and concentrate totally on his publishing business. "My first job was a Sales Executive selling textbooks. I set up a publishing company last year. I believe it's a type of bond. My application to be a social worker when I was 16, was unsuccessful. So now I decided to work with the local social organizations and Anti-Suicide association to write my first book "Why Suicide?"《點解要自殺?》. I will be publishing another book "I am the Patient's Family" 《我是病人家屬》 and it will be out, end of this month. I sought help from an association, and apart from my own story, there are 10 more touching real life stories." 

Love: Bad Men over Good Men
Steven's love life is still not in sight. Before he entered the entertainment circle, his few ex-girlfriends loved him for his filial piety and his love for his family but because he's not romantic, they left him. "Actually someone unromantic can be said to be stable emotionally." (Reporter nods) Those women pursuing romance if still single will in the end settle for a stable man to marry. Once I had a heated argument with a male friend who was popular amongst females. He said: "if men aren't bad, women won't love." That time, I was 20 odd years old. I wanted my ideal girlfriend to be like Cecilia Yip (葉童), with Jacklyn Wu's(吳倩蓮) class, and she must have flowing, long hair. Now I only ask for compatibility and geniune love. Won't even cares if she was onece a dance hostess."

Steven boasted that he would definitely be a 100% good husband and father due to his compassionate father's teaching. His father always taught him that a good man must possess an indomitable spirit, that taking care of his wife and children is a man's mandatory responsibility.

When asked if still will be friends with his past romantic rumored girlfriends: Astrid Chan, Dai Wan Wai (戴蘊慧) Ada Choi and Sonija Kwok; Steven answered sternly: "Astrid and I have no problems remaining friends, she had disagreement with Sheila Chan (陳淑蘭), not with me. But now she is blissfully in love, and since we work in different places, we seldom keep in touch. Dai Wan Wai - that's all bridge under water, now we phone each other occasionally. As for Ada, please (to all media) do not give us pressure. We are still in the good friends and colleagues's relationship mode. (When reporter was about to mention Sonija, as if knowing how to lip read, Steven quickly forestalled the question: "Her', no comments!"

Love Desire Entanglement
To foster good relationship is a form of desire but to keep one's distance from a conditional relationship is another form of desire. Ms. Kwok publicly criticized Steven, revealing her Sima's mentality for all to see, hoping to get promoted and to salvage her negative image, what is called having both beauty and brain.

Steven though humiliated by girlfriend of three months gallantly said: "No comments."




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related materials:
Artist-Dai Wan Wei
Artist-Sonija Kwok
Artist-Astrid Chan


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