From Kelefe to HKFA Winner: Philip Keung Thought About Giving Up

Philip Keung’s (姜皓文) first appearance in the Hong Kong Film Awards actually happed in 1986, when he was still competing in ATV’s Mr. TV Quest contest.

“I didn’t even know what the HKFA was,” said Philip. “One year, I was invited to perform as a character for one of the nominated films for the opening act. I was basically a kelefe.”

It wasn’t until 2017 when Philip would make his next appearance at the awards, nearly 30 years later. He was nominated for Best Supporting Actor for his role in Trivisa <樹大招風>. In 2018, he was a Best Supporting Actor double nominee with Concerto of the Bully <大樂師·為愛配樂> and Shock Wave <拆彈專家>, winning the latter.

Philip Keung is nominated for Best Actor for “Tracey” (2018).

And 2019 will be Philip’s first year competing for Film King.

It has been a long and winding journey for Philip, who made his debut through the 1986 Mr. TV Quest contest. Recalling his last 30 years in the industry, Philip said, “There were definitely some difficulties, but I consider all of them to be discipline training. I really had no idea what I was doing. I had no goal. I didn’t know if I could act.”

From kelefe (background extra), to a vague supporting actor, to a billable star, the journey took over 30 years. With no stardom, no jobs and no stable income, Philip considered giving up in the industry, and at one point he did.

“No matter how much I loved this job, I had to consider other options,” said Philip. “I had to survive. I had bills to pay and a family to feed. I had to work. When I stopped getting offers, I was told by some people that maybe this industry just didn’t have the space for me.”

Philip, who enjoys cooking, opened up an underground restaurant, which did fairly well. He dedicated his time to the business for two years, but later decided to close it down. “The food industry is hard work. You’re constantly receiving new orders and purchasing new ingredients. You constantly work to the middle of the night and have to socialize with patrons.”

But even in the midst of his restaurant business, he still couldn’t give up acting. “I had friends who would reach out to me about doing a part for them. I’d tell them I’d help out once I finish cooking.”

It didn’t take a lot of convincing to get Philip back into acting. An elderly senior once told him, “As long as you stay in this industry, one day you’ll become first in line.” Those words inspired Philip to persevere.

Much of Philip’s success is owed to his wife and family. “My wife is my biggest supporter. She gave me the confidence to develop my career. She would tell me that I should do whatever I want. The family has no financial stress. Because of her, I was able to hold onto everything until now. If not, I would’ve been long gone.”

Now, Philip Keung is in the running for Film King, competing against acting giants such as Chow Yun-fat (周潤發), Francis Ng (吳鎮宇), Anthony Wong (黃秋生), and Aaron Kwok (郭富城). “It’s a honor just to be nominated,” he said. “I’m not hoping for much. I just want to give a good performance.”


This article is written by Addy for

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  1. light at end of the tunnel. glad for him and hope tvb won’t waste his talents.

  2. TVB should be fortunate that they can get Kara and Philip to participate in a drama. If I were them, I wouldn’t even entertain their offer.

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