Actor and singer Lawrence Wong shares about his latest endeavour, Grail plus more.
A man of deep conviction, Lawrence Wong is your true-blue go-getter, constantly on the move to strive for greater success and purpose. His commitment to acting and the local TV station’s lack of vision (casting him in bit roles) pushed him to China where he snagged a role of his life: palace guard turned general in the most viewed Chinese drama of 2018, Story of Yanxi Palace. Owing to the success of the show and his breakout role, Lawrence was ranked the 35th most influential artiste in China and landed a lead role in the 43-episode Chinese serial One Boat, One World (2021).
With millions of views on streaming platforms, one would imagine a celebrated actor to rest on his laurels but no, armed with resilience and a “never say die” attitude that has kept him going through tough times, the Malaysian- Singaporean actor is finding success in another venture — a skincare startup he calls “Grail”.
Read on below to find out what Lawrence Wong has to say about Grail in our exclusive interview:
Most celebrities would be happy to lend their name to branding, but you actually went into the whole entrepreneurial path. Why did you choose one path over the other?
Of course I can choose the easy path but to me, reputation in show business is sacred. I believed that if I wanted to do this and it has always been a dream of mine for years, I would rather do it right. I mean if this is going to be my brand, I want to have full control of everything, including packaging, ingredients, range of products, even the brand story. I want to be involved in every aspect, only then I can call it my own brand. If not, I can’t say “this is by Lawrence Wong”, it would just be a collaboration or a product endorsed by me as long as it works well for me. But I don’t want to be just the face of the brand for a year or two, this is what usually happens in our line and I didn’t think I would be contented with that.
For someone with little business experience how steep was that learning curve?
Really really steep [laughs]. There are so many things to consider not just the product. Even if you have a freaking good product, you still need to know how to market it, how to price it, how to balance cost and quality; in spite of the steep learning curve, I enjoyed the process. I was learning something new and this appeals to be because I get bored really easily. I feel alive when I’m creating something and putting it out into the universe.
What did you learn about yourself during the process of becoming an entrepreneur?
I discovered that I was quite the perfectionist [laughs]. It’s my brand and I’m putting my face out there so I want to be in control of everything. That said, Grail is not my full time job, there are many other things that I have to attend to. I have learned that it is necessary to let go and let people handle it for you and you have to compromise a bit on certain things. for me to start betting on events you have in your head. You especially have to compromise on reality versus what’s ideal in your head.
What do you hope to accomplish with Grail? What is considered a successful outcome for Grail?
To be honest, I never really thought about it, but I hope that Grail will become a daily necessity in people’s lives. That said, I didn’t set Grail up to achieve the conventional benchmarks of success. To me, being able to launch Grail is itself a success because I’ve been wanting to do it for many years and now I finally did it. I didn’t start Grail with an endpoint in mind because it is an on-going passion. I find quantifying success in commercial terms is not only very stressful but also unnecessary as it would deviate me from my true motives in launching Grail.
What will the you today tell the Lawrence Wong who was just starting out with Grail or in your career?
Relax. Be patient, your time will come.
To check out more of Lawrence Wong’s looks, head to the Onitsuka Tiger official website.
(Hero & profile image: Lawrence Wong in Long sleeve shirt, padded shorts, belt, BIG LOGO TRAINER PUFFED by Onitsuka Tiger)
Interview by Jonathan Ho; opening paragraph by KC Yap; Photo by Shawn Paul Tan; styling by Daryll Alexius Yeo; Make-up by Peter Khor; hair by Gary Low assisted by Melvin Leong and Kat Midori
To read the whole interview, pick up a copy of the Augustman September 2021 issue, or log into Magzter to read your free copy!