Thursday, June 19, 2003

Article from XPWeekly - 10/01/2002
Requested by edelerzi
Joey Leung: I'm in Charge!

When Dayo Wong was filming for "War of the Genders" in 2000, he attacked every script with a pencil, like a primary school teacher marking homework and altered his lines, creating an overnight success for himself and the show. It turns out that Joey Leung once tried to alter his lines in a certain TV series, but he was reprimanded for it, thus creating one of his reasons for leaving TVB. Both Dayo and Joey were full of confidence and full of talent as they changed their lines. However, the former became successful as a result and the latter is still battling in the oceans of showbiz. This may be so, but Joey insists on letting his talents flow on as he has moved his art to the stage, saying: "I want a job where I have an element of autonomy."

After the series "I Have a Date with a Vampire II" (ATV), there hasn't been much of Joey's news until recently when he has been working on his stage production "Flying over the Bridge of Love" and has aroused everyone's memories.

Having arranged to meet Joey in the Bird Street for a photoshoot, unfortunately he didn't know his way round so it took me 50 minutes until I could find him and the sun had almost gone down.

Joey happily said: "I've been in the business for 12 years, so fast!" Joey entered showbiz on 1st January 1990.

Probably because things move too quickly in Hong Kong and everything comes and goes like an avalanche, to promote an artiste, the company will send him on up to seven press conferences a week, even if nothing is happening just to say a few words, have some photos taken... however, the Joey we see seems to be caught at a certain stage.

Did you have any regrets about "Chai Kung" not giving you the rebound you needed?

With a golden head of hair, giving him an air of a resentful youth, Joey's dark eyes do a circle before he says: "In filming Chai Kung", there were some personnel problems that I didn't know how to handle and the company didn't know how to compromise either, so with the company having its way of controlling the artistes and the artistes having their own agenda, then there was bound to be some disagreement. It was like this, as an artiste, of course I wanted the company to give me all their support so naturally I forgot to think about the company's position. For example if I felt that a scene needed three hours to shoot to get it right, but the company felt that it only needed an hour otherwise it would be over budget, at the time I was not able to see it from the company's perspective. Until now, when I think back about it , although I still feel that neither party was wrong, I realise that artistes should try to work for the needs of themselves and the company.

"However, I have thought it through now and I know that the company's needs come first, "Chai Kung" taught me a valuable lesson in that it is 90% about relating to others, 10% about talent. Without the need to reinforce my talent, I used this strategy on myself after I left TVB because I know that as long as you can continue to co-operate well, then that is more important than any amount of talent."

Those who want a peaceful life once said: A big tree gives a good shade. It has been two years since Joey left TVB's 'big tree'.

"To a certain degree, working at TVB was happy, because I learned quite a bit from 'her' that made my working relationship with ATV and Cable a good one. Because of the experiences collected over the years, I have learned to think about other people. Having realised this, then not only the company will be happy, but also I that work is not as hard, of course sometimes I still need to see who I am working with. For example in ATV's "A Date with A Vampire II" when I see Joey Meng insisting on sticking around after work and buying supper for every one and supporting her colleagues, that warmth is something I have never seen before. As no-one is worried about working overtime as long as they do the best that they can, this makes working so many times happier. Also, when I see Wan Tin Chiu doing his own stunts and saying "It turns out better if you do it yourself!" it encourages me to do the same."

Is life better away from the big tree? "To leave TVB and still keep their fame, there are less than five people who have done this. To choose to leave is for the level of freedom and to put notoriety in second place. In these two years, the workload has reduced, my fame has gone down, but I have made twice as much money as before and I have the power to make my own decisions, time to work on the stage shows that I love, like the show with Tse Kwan Ho at the end of this year that we are planning to have 30 shows in December. I still have great faith in Hong Kong's future and although the economy hasn't been very good in the past year, I still want to do a comedy, because they are the most appealing, with some friends from the Hong Kong Academy of Performing Arts, there will just be three of us in the show.In the next two or three years, he will be working on at least one or two more shows. This is our dream, we have known each other for over ten years and I am sure everyone will be interested in seeing what Joey Leung and Tse Kwan Ho can come up with. To me, fame and fortune are just a fantasy and is not desired in the material world. So even if I am 'fallen' in the future, it will just be like waking up from a dream.

"I really don't want to let this desire from so many years go by because I don't have the time to realise it, maybe in ten years time, I will not have the chance to do it, so why not take the opportunity now whilst I can."

For the sake of his ambition, Joey has done some voluntary dramatical performances, just to satisfy his own self-pride.

When asked about whether his unpaid performances offer the meaning of "I am a sheep", Joey is stunned for a while before saying: "After doing each show of 'Kiss Kiss Bear Bear', some parents would say:"We're really happy, we should do this more often."" This is the kind of satisfaction that Joey seeks.

It is a little hard to believe that the comedic Joey will seek his ambition at this time, because after all the rate of unemployment is staying high at the moment.

He stands by his principles and says: "I want that sense of empowerment, not to be messed around by other people."

With the new year ahead, he has set his plans for his work: "At the beginning of the year, I will be doing the show "Flying over the Bridge of Love" then at the end of they year, I will work on another show. In the middle I will be doing TV with a job for Cable, but also I have other work that I need to keep secret for the time being. Money? As long as there is enough, then it is okay, what do I want so much money for? When I have money I will be even more afraid, I think that for any pair of lovers, if one side is richer, there will be an element of mistrust as to whether the other is in love with themselves or their money.

"At the same time, experiences tells me that working with a TV Company, it is always better to be an external rather than an internal, I remember once I changed a few words out of my lines and not long later I was hauled before the authority and this made me very upset, thus it was one of the reasons I left TVB. So, for the forseeable future, I won't be signing a long term contract with any TV company. And I can't anyway because I have to work on my stage show."

Do you remember which lines it was?

"I can only remember that there were a few that I had changed, but I don't remember what exactly I changed. Conversely, the happiest time was on "Detective Investigation Files" but changing the lines was purely situational."

It turns out that for the sake of his stage show, Joey quit his job with Cable in October, giving up a stable income for the first time in his years in showbiz, however, he says: "Security is not just down to money!"

All along, Joey compares himself to an ox and one that only knows how to plough, believing that in order to reap the rewards, he has to work hard. And he is yet to succeed, but this is because his time has not yet come: "Many people are more hardworking than Li Kar Shing, but are not richer than him, and yet even though Mr Li is rich, he still has to work over ten hours a day, so 'Great Wealth is from the Heavens, Small Wealth is from Economy'."

Copyright (c)2002 South China Media Limited All Rights Reserved
Translation by Em (c)2003


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