It was back in 2014 that we had the privilege of featuring Lawrence Wong as one of our Men of the Year. Our rationale for honouring the actor was his tireless work ethic that includes venturing into acting, singing and working in several markets – Malaysia, Singapore and even Thailand.
He was just 15 when he entered the entertainment industry after being cast in a TV commercial. Ads – print and television – continued for a couple of years till he landed his first big role in a Singaporean movie. TV projects then ensued and soon after, Wong then embarked on a music career. Not bad for someone whose first foray into showbiz was part of a ‘manufactured’ Japanese boy band.
Despite his popularity in this region, Wong decided to take a risk and venture to China.
“Prior to going, I thought I would have to rough it out, be jobless for a while, socialise my heart out to try to get to know more people and use up my savings,” he says.
But as it turns out, he managed to land a major role in a big production within the first month of being there.
“It sounds clichéd but I’ve been incredibly, incredibly blessed,” he says. “It’s been non-stop production after production ever since.”
Competing with a pool of talent that he describes as “unbelievably huge”, has not been easy. “There are a gazillion actors/singers/models here who are more talented, more hard-working, younger, better looking, taller than you and the list goes on.”
It has been a humbling experience for him. His past achievements, he says, are of little consequence in China. But things have turned out pretty well with the debut of a movie and two dramas in China.
In our interview, Wong talks about what the last year has been like.
How does it compare to working in Malaysia/Singapore?
The scale is much, much bigger. The budget too is much, much bigger and that changes everything.
It is very tough to make it in China, why did you feel that it was the next step for you?
I guess I was hungry for more and I believed I was destined for more. Hence, I took the leap of faith.
From your social media accounts, it can be seen that there were times when it was quite tough. How do you keep yourself motivated?
I won’t sugar coat. Things are brutal and harsh and very realistic here. Sometimes when I feel down, I pick myself up by reminding myself the reason I came here in the first place and that I am having opportunities and doing roles and productions that so many artistes back home would die for. Hence, I can’t let my family, friends and most importantly, myself down. Sometimes I log on to my bank account online and look at the figures to make myself feel better. I know it sounds shallow and money-minded but let’s be honest, it helps.
What have been some of the challenging situations?
The one good thing about me is I tend to forget some of these so-called challenges as soon as I overcome them. Sometimes I don’t even recognise them as challenges, just “stuff” that I have to overcome or deal with. That’s just part and parcel of work or life, no matter where you are or what you are doing.
You are bald in our shoot. What is the story behind that?
I shaved my hair off for a Qing Dynasty period drama that’s set in the palace. I acted as a high imperial guard who’s deeply trusted by the emperor but fell in love with the empress’s maid.
What is the rest of the year going to be like for you?
I’m currently shooting a cruise-theme drama till May and then I will move on to another drama whereby I’m acting as a God who comes down to earth and helps mortal couples solve their love issues by granting them wishes. In the process, I am also learning about love and life. The concept and script of this drama are so amazing that I can’t wait to start work on it. I have one movie and two dramas that will be showing this year in China. I’m pretty excited about everything that’s coming up actually.
Photography by Chuan Looi / Yipieyaya Studio
Styling by Ibnu Aswan
Assistance by Joyce Lim
Makeup by KF Bong
Grooming by Garrie Sim