Mainland Chinese actor Chen Kun (陳坤) embarked on Power to Go (行走的力量), a public benefit campaign that includes a 10-kilometer hike through the Tibetan city of Lhasa on January 12. Started by Chen Kun in 2011, Power to Go aims to bring together a group of volunteer hikers, occasionally including the actor’s show biz friends, to create a time of silence and self-reflection, in the hope that doing so will lead to spiritual redemption.
This year, a media team from Tencent Entertainment joined the Power to Go participants on their trip. Although Chen Kun initially grumbled about the unnecessary media presence, he granted the team an interview, during which he shared about his inspiration for charity work.
Mired in a Troubled Childhood
For Chen Kun, who was recently appointed as an ambassador for the city of Lhasa, Power to Go was born from his revelation that everyone must learn to accept destiny. Now a high-demand actor who graduated from the prestigious Beijing Film Academy, Chen Kun nevertheless faced a difficult childhood and personally suffered from life’s random setbacks.
Born in Chongqing, Chen Kun was raised by his grandmother after his parents divorced. He then moved in with his mother, stepfather, and two younger brothers. Because of his family’s poverty, their house measured only 13 square meters, and Chen Kun had to sleep in the hallway at night. In addition to his academic responsibilities, he had to work as a server at a nightclub in order to make ends meet.
However, Chen Kun strove to change his destiny and, at 20 years old, tested into the Beijing Film Academy, where he became classmates with Vicki Zhao (趙薇) and Huang Xiaoming (黃曉明). Nevertheless, his financial situation still forced him to work at night, and at times he even had to shelve his pride and ask classmates to treat him to a meal.
Panic-Stricken by Overnight Fame
During the SARS outbreak of 2003, Chen Kun struck gold. Stuck inside their homes, many people turned to television dramas to relieve their boredom and became enamored with Chen Kun in The Story of a Noble Family <金粉世家>.
But for Chen Kun, his overnight fame led to a panic, and he fell into depression, thinking that his success was just a coincidence. “One day, I was driving and I saw a flourishing street, with cars shuttling back and forth, and crowds pushing through,” he shared. “Suddenly I felt very afraid! I felt that everything I had right then did not belong to myself, and that I could lose everything at any moment.
“That day, I returned home, and the first thing I did was give all of my bank cards to my family and tell them the passwords.”
Discovering the Value of Personal Reflection
In order to avoid the pitfalls of fame and fortune, Chen Kun discovered the benefits of meditation. When he finds himself in a bad mood or facing a difficult problem, he will often take a solitary walk outside to clear his mind.
“To understand our inner discontent or unhappiness, we don’t necessarily have to watch a good movie or listen to a good concert or talk to a good friend,” he explained. “Actually, when we quiet ourselves down, we are capable of healing ourselves.”
Silence and self-reflection thus became cornerstones for Power to Go. Although small talk is not forbidden, the campaign encourages participants to keep the chatter to a minimum. According to Chen Kun, “only when you refrain from talking can you listen to the sound of your heart.”
Exploring His Place in the Industry
Chen Kun’s Power to Go trips also granted him insight on his professional work. A bona fide A-lister since his film debut, he recently took to volunteering for smaller roles, such as that of Chiang Ching-kuo (蔣經國), who has only a handful of lines in The Founding of a Republic <建國大業>.
To his surprise, these supporting roles actually allowed Chen Kun to develop a passion for acting. “I don’t especially care about landing the lead role or being a big celebrity,” he revealed. “My core is to become a good actor…. I hope that in the future, I can sincerely choose to do the things I like to do.”
Despite his A-list status, Chen Kun still demands privacy, especially when it comes to his son. Very few details about his son are known to the public, including who the boy’s mother is and whether or not the boy is adopted. Chen Kun prefers that the situation stay this way, since he dislikes forcing his son to face the adult world at such a young age, just to satisfy other people’s curiosity.
“My life doesn’t need to be explained,” he said. “When I want to talk about it, I will naturally talk about it.”
Transformed through Charity Work
Chen Kun may be known for his severity and bluntness, as displayed by his strict but accurate comments when he served as a judge in the 2013 season of Super Boys <快樂男聲>, but he shared that Power to Go taught him how to interact better in social situations.
“Sometimes my words do not pass through my brain, especially when I’m being interviewed,” he admitted. “I love competition too much.”
But in order to effectively manage the Power to Go campaign, which involved corralling volunteers and participants, Chen Kun learned to loosen up when interacting with others. “All of a sudden, I went from an actor who is protected by everyone, to a person who has to ask others for help,” he said. He even had to learn to develop a higher alcohol tolerance, even though he did not drink before, in order to better handle diplomatic situations that involve liquor.
For Chen Kun, who plans to return full-force to the acting scene, his past two years of self-reflection have been an invaluable experience. He hopes to pass on his newfound knowledge to others and remarked, “Everyone’s life is random. The only thing you can do is calmly face it, optimistically give thanks, and keep going.”
This article is written by Joanna for JayneStars.com.