Sunday, September 05, 2004

[Ta Kung Pao Special Report 05/09/04]

Leila Tong - From Child Star to Obstinate Girl

Leila Tong (originally known as Kong Lai Na) started acting at the age of 8 as a child star and as she is 22 now, a quick calculation yields that she has spent 14 years in showbiz. She definitely has the experience and even some more famous stars cannot match this, but as for popularity, then it can safely be said that this did not emerge until she signed for TVB three years ago.

With a sweet and timeless face, Leila has a petite frame, but this figure is well suited for TV series and so after joining TVB, she has had plenty of opportunities and from her first series "Burning Flame II", she has made eight or nine series and the weight of her roles is becoming greater and greater as "Aqua Heroes" and "Twin of Brothers" proves that TVB is looking to promote her. TO this, she says happily: "I do feel I have been very lucky and I am thankful to the company for giving me so many opportunities. I will work even harder and make the most of every chance. (But with the beauty contests every year, there comes another batch of new blood, are you worried that the competition will be tougher?) Not at all, because this industry needs a continuous stream of new blood and as long as I do my own work well and don't miss any opportunities, then I believe the company will keep giving me the chances to do well."

From Child-star beginnings...

Talking of becoming a child-actor from a very young age, was this because she loved acting? Leila says: "I don't know, but I think that it was with the thought of having fun that I did it then becuase there was always a lot of people who really cared for me at the studios and even when I joined TVB later, a lot of people still looked after me." She adds that even when she was young, she would complain about some parts being bad, but now she will not and would even like to play some hateful parts.

Although something can be learned from each filming experience, the series "Square Pegs" left Leila with the deepest impression because she bore a heavy part from the beginning and she was working opposite the very experienced Roger Kwok and Jessica Hsuan. Roger was a man possessed by his character and Jessica was able to co-ordinate this with her performance, so Leila learned a lot from them as well as gained a deep impression. However, as a viewer, my own memory of Leila was gained from watching "Aqua Heroes" because her usually graceful and studious personality was exchanged for a conceited and obstinate Yau Wing and this was a fresh sight. WHen asked if she is so stubborn and demanding in real life, she laughs and says: "Usually I am very accommodating to other people, but she does not do this blindly and so I am not worried that people will take advantage of me."

Not Afraid of Action...

As for the which is Leila's favourite character out of all the parts she has played, she says: "Playing different parts has brought benefits to me, so I love every one of my roles. For example, in the past I rarely had any roles where I had to do wirework, but when I was filming for 'Twin of Brothers', then nearly every day involved a few 'wire' scenes and in the end it became normality and I now see being suspended in mid-air as nothing special. Moreover, I had to stay in China for a while whilst filming that series and without my family around, I learned how to look after myself. When I was filming for 'Aqua Heroes', the character was a swimming champion, but I could only do a normal breaststroke, so in order to play the role well, I had to learn how to swim in all four styles. These are all examples of extra benefits I have gained from playing my characters, so I am beginning to love acting more and more."

Everyone looks to high places, so with the company continuing to give her some great opportunities, does Leila hold ambitions of becoming a lead female in the future? She says that she has not thought about this and just hopes to give more good performances. As for awards, these are definitely not the reason for her acting, but they are a motivation for her to continue working hard and to give great performances.


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