Sunday, June 27, 2004

[Sing Pao Special Report]
Reporter: Chan To On

Talking on the phone to Sammul Chan to arrange a time to catch up, he replies simply and directly: "I have to go on set now, I'll call you later. Sorry!" He is surely an artiste who keeps to his word as he calls me up later and says on the phone: "I'll put it on my schedule and will see you then!" Used to his bold and direct ways, he is the same old Sammul as the one I used to know.

I remember when we were colleagues at Metro Radio 997, he was responsible for the travel and weather reports and would always arrive ten minutes early at the studio. At the time I didn't have many chances to chat with Sammul, but from other colleagues, I heard that he was a very obedient and progressive worker. If at times his reports were not quite right, he would frown and be unhappy all day, compared with some people who just get by, he bore a very careful and serious attitude towards his work. He says: "Even if you are reporting the time travel and weather news, it has to be accurate! Even if you can correct yourself after a mistake, it will still be a mistake." He would never let himself relax just because he had a minor role as he takes it just as seriously. Sammul would always give himself a very invisible pressure in his desire for perfection. An artiste with such demands and preparation is thirsting for acceptance and success.

I ask: "How did you realise you wanted to build a career in showbiz?" He replies directly: "After I graduated from Form 6, I really wanted to work in the performance industry, acting, singing and broadcasting is the work that I have been seeking." Sammul's feelings are expressed from the heart. He still remembers when he and Ruth (Current Metro DJ) met Wong Lee Hom and Harlem Yu one day during their work and asked them for their autographs, leaving them both very happy all day. At that point, he said to himself: "If I could be part of this entertainment circle, that would be really good!" Later, under the guidance of former Metro DJ Ann Roberts, he met Ivy Chow. Even at their first meeting, they got on very well and having hoped for a manager to help further his career, this unknown at the time had finally found someone to help unearth his career.

Under the persistence of Ivy, Sammul had the chances to have auditions and screen tests, but he met with many falls to start with. He recalls the memories as though they were new: "I forced myself to memorise my lines, but I flunked at the auditions and was so mad with myself!" When he returned home in silence, but luckily his family and manager gave him a lot of comfort and encouragement, allowing him to let go a little.

With Ivy's continuing hard work, he had another opportunity and both Sammul and Ivy both say that they have to thank an actor named Wong Wai Leung because before the performance, he was saying to Sammul to relax. Sammul says gratefully: "Brother Wai Leung really did me a great favour because he taught me the technique of sharing the part, leading me on, encouraging me and resulting in my successful completion." With such a good person and good time, how can I not mention it? Although competition in showbiz is rife, there are still some exceptions. Artistes who silently graft away with open and generous hearts made Sammul and his manager continuously offer their thanks.

In TV series "Survivor's Law", the role of Vincent made a mark in people's hearts and when Sammul heard fans call him by this name in the streets, he was overjoyed. Then young, caring doctor Tsang Kwok Ping in "Point of No Return" and rich young airline pilot Donald in "Triumph in the Skies" were also popular with the audience and this firmly standing and heavily promoted artiste says: "I am deeply grateful to every cast and crew member who has helped me and my confidence has come from them. The success of a show and the acceptance of an artiste comes from the work of a whole team and I am thankful to TVB for giving me this opportunity! I can only say that I have been very lucky." A 'boy next door' becomes the darling of the showbiz circles but apart from changes to his rest times, there has been little change to his day-to-day life.

"Being an artiste is a job, when people give you applause, call out your name, ask for your autograph or take a photo with you, you will feel happy and excited. However, we are all human and work is just a part of life. I really don't see what the difference is, we all still need to sleep, wash and eat."

In 1997 when his first advertisement came out for a bank, this fresh faced city youth image made people stir and this was the first time that he received a satisfactory salary. Coming from a comfortable family, Sammul has this perspective of money: "If I have enough to spend then that is okay. I hope to save up the money that I earn to buy some practical items and give my family a more comfortable environment." He smiles and continues: "Health is more important!" This youth who does not drink or smoke and bears red lips and white teeth has been chosen as one of the six 'Olympic Stars' and not only does he show off his great attractiveness on the stage, his honesty, directness and health off stage offers another positive message and is a rarity.

When the three of us talk about the difficulties that we meet in work, Sammul says: "I am really uncomfortable when I have the occasional NG." After saying this, he frowns a little and I say: "If I photograph or write poorly, then I don't like that either." To this Ivy says: "You, you always used to frown no matter if it was good or bad!" After this clearly defined manager said this, Sammul and I both said: "You curl up your brow too when you have expectations from your work..." In truth, bearing responsibility for one's work is part of seeking perfection and this will naturally cause you to frown. We all go through it!


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