Joyce Chen is funny, sexy, bru­tally hon­est

HK Magazine - - PAGE 3 -

“The darker side of this in­dus­try is no more un­sa­vory than any other pro­fes­sion, and ev­ery per­son has a choice about which path to take.”

Those who know Joyce Chen Yin-hang will agree she is a hy­brid of sex sym­bol and comic—per­haps Hong Kong’s an­swer to a lat­ter-day Goldie Hawn. To her friends, she is the liv­ing em­bod­i­ment of com­pas­sion, as demon­strated by her work with an­i­mal wel­fare groups. She shares with M. C. Hughes the highs and lows of her 20-year en­ter­tain­ment ca­reer, and opens up about some of the un­said and some­times seedy rules to keep­ing your head above wa­ter in show­biz. Pho­tos by Kirk Kenny | Venue: Le Meri­dien Cy­ber­port

I joined TVB’s

per­form­ing artist train­ing pro­gram in 1995.

It’s a six-month

crash course with half the time spent in the class­room on the­ory and the re­main­der on ac­tual act­ing.

My mother wanted me

to con­tinue my stud­ies in Canada but I knew I wasn’t too aca­dem­i­cally in­clined, so af­ter I grad­u­ated from high school in Toronto, I came back to Hong Kong to join TVB.

I knew when

I was a lit­tle girl that I didn’t want to set­tle for a rigid 9 to 5 job. I didn’t want a con­ven­tional and un­pre­dictable life.

I was in­ter­ested

in act­ing at a very young age; I think it’s in my blood.

I re­call the train­ing in­ter­view

like it was yes­ter­day, and how daunt­ing the whole ex­pe­ri­ence was. I was up against at least 10,000 other can­di­dates want­ing to jump­start their ca­reers.

By the fi­nal round

of in­ter­view­ing, only 20 can­di­dates re­mained, in­clud­ing my­self. That’s the mo­ment when I thought to my­self: Wow, I made it!

I was very lucky

to be cast in a pop­u­lar TV drama dur­ing my train­ing. I played a teenage delin­quent.

That first role

was mem­o­rable for both me and the view­ing pub­lic—I got pretty good re­views. Peo­ple felt I came across as nat­u­ral and easy go­ing.

I un­der­stand how

cut­throat the busi­ness can be at times. While other ac­tors and I may find the craft be­comes sec­ond na­ture, some sim­ply do not make it be­cause they strug­gle to flit be­tween their act­ing per­sona and their true, off-screen self.

When I was young

I thought that if I could pol­ish and im­prove my act­ing, that would be all that mat­tered.

But as I got older,

I re­al­ized there are other fac­tors at play: Be­sides hav­ing to deal with com­pe­ti­tion and build­ing a strong per­sonal and pro­fes­sional net­work, you also have to tackle a lot of un­stated un­der­ly­ing rules.

Not many peo­ple

know about the darker side of the busi­ness.

I re­call a meet­ing

with a tal­ent man­ager from the Main­land at his ho­tel. I waited for al­most an hour in the lobby be­fore call­ing him to clar­ify whether I was at the right venue.

He asked me

to go up to his room be­cause he was busy on a con­fer­ence call. When I ar­rived, he greeted me in his bathrobe.

His room was dark

with all the cur­tains drawn. With­out even say­ing a word, I turned around and fled.

This re­gret­table en­counter

would only be the first of many over the years.

At first,

I was shocked and dis­gusted, but af­ter a while you just have to ig­nore them and carry on with what you think is the right path for you.

De­spite the ev­i­dently seedy un­der­belly

of show busi­ness, in some ways the darker side of this in­dus­try is no more un­sa­vory than any other pro­fes­sion, and ev­ery per­son has a choice about which path to take in pro­gress­ing their ca­reer.

I don’t re­gret

choos­ing act­ing as my ca­reer. There are dif­fer­ent ways to achieve a goal.

I may have cho­sen

a more treach­er­ous and longer route and oth­ers may pre­fer a less dif­fi­cult one. We all have choices and I re­spect the free­dom be­stowed on each of us to choose what is best for us.

Ac­tors who have cho­sen

what might ap­pear to be an eas­ier path might have made a lot of per­sonal sac­ri­fices. We don’t know for sure, so we should never judge.

Now I have

more time off screen, I can chan­nel my en­ergy into other projects.

In par­tic­u­lar,

I am pas­sion­ate about res­cue an­i­mals and have used my celebrity sta­tus to en­dorse an­i­mal rights and en­vi­ron­ment is­sues in Hong Kong.

I love an­i­mals

and cher­ish all life. We came to this world with noth­ing and go with noth­ing.

I re­mem­ber some­one

once told me: “None of us is get­ting out of here alive, so be nice to our­selves and be kind to all life­forms.” It has be­come my motto.

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