Karen Mok

Hong Kong’s multi-hy­phen­ate golden girl

Prestige Hong Kong - As Told: The Very Best In Life - - As Told: The Very Best In Life Contents - Pho­tog­ra­phy Paul Tsang Styling Bhisan Rai Make-up Omix Leong Hair Carr Cheng Spe­cial thanks to Man­darin Ori­en­tal, Hong Kong

Singing is not like a job; it’s never a job. I al­ways see ev­ery show as the first and the last.

I’ve been talk­ing about writ­ing a mu­si­cal for way too long. It’s my next big thing. Right now, I’m cel­e­brat­ing my 25th year in show­biz, so I’ve got lots of other things go­ing on. I’ve got a new al­bum com­ing out and then a new world tour, and that’s go­ing to take me up till the end of next year. It’s an ex­ten­sive tour! And then I re­ally should try to put a mu­si­cal to­gether.

I see China hav­ing her own West End or Broad­way. It’s a big enough coun­try. I think the au­di­ence needs some­thing like that. I want [mine] to be an orig­i­nal com­po­si­tion and in Chi­nese be­cause, for now, we don’t have this in­dus­try.

If it came to a choice of [writ­ing] ei­ther a com­edy or tragedy, I think I’d go for the for­mer. Although my favourite mu­si­cal is Les Misérables. And the Chi­nese au­di­ence is ac­tu­ally into tear-jerk­ing stuff.

For the Rent world tour [in 2015], we did 70-odd shows in three months around the world. So that was quite in­tense. You’ve got to train up your stamina and then know how to use your voice and not over-strain your vo­cal chords. There’s quite a bit of hard work in­volved.

My hus­band and I find it hard to find time to be to­gether. So [in 2014], we thought “let’s just go for it.” We set a date and took three months off to go places we’re not fa­mil­iar with. My hus­band is from Europe [Ger­many], and we’ve trav­elled ex­ten­sively there, so it ended up be­ing the south­ern hemi­sphere.

Mi­ami was the start­ing point; then we went down to Peru, Bo­livia and Ar­gentina – we took tango les­sons in Buenos Aires. Then [we went] down to Patag­o­nia, Chile and then hopped across the South Pa­cific and went to Easter Island, then Tahiti, New Zealand and Aus­tralia.

If you’re re­ally into creepy crawlies, I highly rec­om­mend the Ama­zon [rain­for­est] to you. They were crawl­ing on us, all over the place. It was quite eye open­ing, es­pe­cially for a city girl com­ing from Hong Kong. At night, well – there are the sounds. It’s so loud that you can’t sleep.

I got to see these beau­ti­ful macaws. We had to get up at 3am in the morn­ing, and we took a boat in to­tal

dark­ness. I don’t know how our guide did it. We just made our way up the river be­fore dawn. So, while we were hav­ing break­fast, the macaws were also hav­ing break­fast, lit­er­ally lick­ing the clay on the shores of this river for the min­er­als. They were just “wow!” Fly­ing ev­ery­where around us with the beau­ti­ful colours.

I’ve al­ways loved Italy. It’s writ­ten in the stars. I think it all started be­cause I ap­plied for a schol­ar­ship to study in Italy, and then ever since – in one way or an­other – I even­tu­ally get con­nected back to Italy some­how. And who wouldn’t love a place like Italy, right?

I was very hon­oured to be the first Chi­nese pop singer to do a solo con­cert in Italy, [in Mi­lan, in 2016.] And that started paving the way for other singers, be­cause then last year a cou­ple of other [Chi­nese] singers also held their con­certs in Italy.

I was named Cul­tural Am­bas­sador for [the Ital­ian city of ] Berg­amo the same year. They took me around, and we had a lit­tle cer­e­mony at the town hall and they pre­sented me with a plaque, so it was quite of­fi­cial. They’ve only ever awarded this thing to three other peo­ple, and they were Maria Cal­las, El­ton John and Pavarotti. I’m like, “Wow, and then me? You’ve got to be jok­ing!”

I’ve been con­cen­trat­ing more on my mu­sic [than on films] in re­cent years. I started pro­duc­ing my own al­bums and writ­ing my mu­sic, so I ended up hav­ing more op­por­tu­ni­ties on the mu­sic side of things. It’s not like I’m not do­ing films any­more, but I haven’t been ac­tively look­ing for scripts and stuff like that.

I’m team­ing up with my brother, Trevor [Mor­ris] to cre­ate our own film projects. He grad­u­ated from Cam­bridge with a PHD in law, but he’s al­ways been re­ally into writ­ing stuff, he’s a very cre­ative guy. Last year he pub­lished a short story series. It’s like the Chi­nese ver­sion of Sher­lock Holmes.

The whole film scene has been chang­ing quite a bit. I think it started from the mid 2000s – we started hav­ing a lot of co-pro­duc­tions with China, so it’s not just Hong Kong peo­ple mak­ing Hong Kong movies. It’s for the whole Chi­nese au­di­ence.

Peo­ple ask me if I diet all the time. They sup­pose I’m con­stantly on the cra­zi­est diet or some work­out, but I’m for­tu­nate to be blessed with re­ally good genes. I eat all sorts of things. I’m al­ways hun­gry, I keep eat­ing, but I don’t put on weight. My hus­band puts ex­tra cream in our pasta! He’s keen on hav­ing me put on a few ki­los, but it doesn’t hap­pen.

I try to be as re­spon­si­ble as pos­si­ble [on so­cial me­dia], to make sure [each post] is some­thing that I want to say and ex­press. There are pros and cons I sup­pose [to hav­ing 37 mil­lion fol­low­ers on Weibo]. I don’t think too much of it.

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