Friday, November 5, 2010

Contented with One's Lot

Posted 02 April 2010 - 07:45 PM
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Title: 自得其乐
source: Singapore I-Weekly, issue 648 @ steven-ma,org

In the entertainment circle where people come and go, one foot in and there he stayed for 17 years. Everybody wants to be famous; he says it is only a job, and has pragmatically separated job from daily life. Much like an outsider looking into the circle of hullabaloo.

I like to take things seriously during the process, but it’s not for the sake of winning. I wouldn’t get angry just because I lost but neither would I be jubilant just because I won.
As soon as he arrives at the venue, he chats as he takes a seat. He jests that the hotel’s pillows are too soft, even with two stacked together, still not enough, but three is too much. No posturing from him but no excessive show of friendliness either. The handshake was strong and firm. Add two points for first impression.

He grew up in Hong Kong public housing; father was a bus driver, all very grassroot. Joined the singing competitions, lost 43 times, finally succeeded on his 44th attempt. With much difficulty he finally entered the industry, but because the company came up with the slogan “He is not Lai Ming, he is not Hok Yao”; even before he could strut his stuff he already inadvertently provoked public indignation. Never mind, go into acting then.

From bystander to male lead, good friend Wayne Lai has made a big breakthrough with Chai Gao, thus greatly elevating his status. As a regular male lead he is still without a representative piece. Other people are anxious for him but he continues to do things per the yardstick in him, asserting his way is appropriate. As for people and stuff, having been through his mother’s death, he now sees things in perspective. As to the wins and losses, he is calm, almost indifferent.

“What to say, that’s my personality. Those who don’t know me well will think I’m overly calm. Having been through so much, whether win or lose, applause or jeers, life or death, being cool-headed has become my way of coping with things. I have not impacted other people so don’t have to answer to anyone; also, don’t have to worry what other people say. Right? Haha! Even if disappointed it won’t be now. Haha! If didn’t reap what I sow, there’s nothing I could do about it. If I never put in the effort and energy, then I have no expectation.

“Variety shows are scared to have me on their programs because I’m very earnest even in play. Whether it was eating wasabi or playing table tennis, I’ll take it seriously. When playing badminton with friends, someone would say: Wei, don’t have to be so earnest, it’s just a game. But the thing is, I enjoy being earnest during the process. Not for winning. I wouldn’t get angry just because I lost but neither would I be jubilant if I won. This is just my attitude. As to whether could win the ultimate prize, if can’t, then it’s just this level (hand demonstration) If won, then this level (hand level raised a little higher) Will be very happy, but will not be too lightheaded. ”

My world does not have a “Give Face Clique”, only a “Be happy Clique.
This kind of “ngang geng’ (stiff neck = stubbornness), how to deal with it inside the entertainment circle?

“Outside work, I seldom socialize with people from the entertainment circle. If happy at seeing each other, then that’s good enough. Everybody has a different individuality. I’ll not change my way of living just because I’m in the entertainment circle.

“Not easy?” I queried.

He laughs: “I don’t understand why it should be difficult lo. It’s all about whether you'll stick to your principles or not. I’ve been this way since young. Once I set my mind on something, nobody can change it. I’m only expressing my own inborn individuality. What’s so difficult about it? I don’t understand wo.”

Still, will be influenced by other people ba?

“Why be influenced by other people? Hong Kong has many young people taking drugs. If people take drugs, then you have to take drugs, too? If don’t even have the most basic values and morality, shouldn’t you do some self-reflection? We can’t shift responsibility onto others. Can’t blame your being bad on this circle. Anyway I don’t think this circle is all that bad wo, it is very normal.”

His tone remains relaxed; his smile still lingers on his lips.

He segues and says to-date since entering the industry, he never needs to engage in social entertainments. Disco is too noisy; he is not comfortable in it. No matter who invites, he still will not go. Why give who and who face.

“Why are there such “Don’t give face” comments? Pray tell, who would I offend? Haha! People should show mutual respect. If I were still a newbie maybe then I need to attend to make more friends. But these 8 or 10 years or so, I’ve never forced myself go to places I didn’t wish to go. For instance, many movie premieres will invite artistes to attend. Frankly, if friends invite me, I’ll go. But if unacquainted artistes or directors invite me, I won’t go. What for? I don’t even know them. If I want to watch that movie, I’ll find time to watch it myself.”

True, nothing wrong with saying this. But what if one does not practice what one preaches.

“Sorry, but within this past 10 years, I truly didn’t attend even once wo. Usually I’ll go by myself to watch it. Everybody has his/her own stance and principles. My world doesn’t have a “Give Face Clique”, only a “Be happy Clique”. Sorry, I’m very direct. But that’s just who I am. Today I can lie to you, but after I leave for Hong Kong, you can check to see if I’ve attended any. Not even once. Not because I didn’t give face but that I didn’t know them. Haha!”

A ‘no comments’ remark does not represent any standpoint! What's more, it does not mean fear of involvement!
Recently in the wake of Stephen Chan explosive scandal, it was rumored he was involved with the corruption charged Stephen Chan and Edthancy in a complex triangle relationship. Fresh rumors rolled out daily from the rumor mills; he who claimed too lazy to be bothered with news reports finally broke his stance to leave words on his blog 2010-03-17 ...

Very unhappy!
The fact is after being in this industry for so many years, I’ve become indifferent to sex scandals; how many are real and how many are actually fabricated. As to the weekly magazine’s negative coverage, I was actually not angry; I only smiled, unperturbed!

But today some of the news reports on my response and stance have obviously misconstrued my meaning. But still, they really upset me. The way things are going these days, we really should not make any responses so as to avoid causing injustice to any person. This is a matter of course! The refusal to answer does not represent any standpoint; what's more, it does not mean a fear of involvement! ...Ai! I am not this kind of person, ok?..... I have already clarified my future plan; perhaps some press friends were not aware of it, thus the speculations. But, what wrong did I do?

Even though he insisted that he was not angry but still he used a lot of exclamation marks, enough to illustrate his agitation. Recall during the interview when Stephen Chen was brought up, Steven’s words conveyed his gratitude towards the former. He said that he (Stephen) was instrumental in finalizing his contract, thus enabling him to engage in things that interest him such as: writing a book, singing, and hosting a cooking show.

Wrapping up the interview, I remember in the pre-interview of him saying making time to watch badminton matches, and also studying the dictionary as preparation for a Hong Kong tv show. So I casually asks if he truly carries a dictionary with him all the time, and if so may I take a look at it?

He immediately takes out his electronic dictionary and proffers it to me with a smile; it looks well-used. At that moment, I felt awkward. In contrast to my small-mindedness, he, with his smiling face, remains unperturbed

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Note1: (Steven did indeed ignore the triangle relationship rumor; it wasn’t until the reporters accused him of deliberately distancing himself from Stephen Chen that he took to writing his feelings in his blog.)

Note2: “Once I set my mind on something, nobody can change it.”
Just like Nip Ji Yuen, Steven’s stubbornness is a double sided sword.

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