Ray Lui (呂良偉) may be one of the biggest stars of 1980’s Hong Kong television, but like all flowers that bloom, success doesn’t just spontaneously appear. The 61-year-old The Bund <上海灘> star shared that it was Lee Ka-ting (李家鼎) who had pushed TVB into signing a contract with him back in the late 1970’s, and Ray is extremely grateful to the veteran star.
“Without him, there wouldn’t be me today,” he said. “I wouldn’t be in this industry. It was all thanks to him that I’ve become an actor.”
Ray joined TVB in 1977 and made his debut as a student in TVB’s 6th artiste training class. His classmates included Idy Chan (陳玉蓮) and Liu Wai-hung (廖偉雄). Failing to stand out amongst his peers in a rising TV industry, TVB had no interest in signing Ray. Rumor has it that Lee Ka-ting rushed into the TVB executives’ office, slammed their tables, and demanded them to sign Ray as their talent.
“Master Ting didn’t slam the tables, but he did help me fight for [a contract],” said Ray. “He was our lion dancing class teacher, and is also my sifu. I was the class’s representative. He told [TVB executives] that I was his student representing the class to take the test, so how is it possible that someone like me can’t get a contract? He then told them he’ll sign me as a lion dancer instead. At the time, lion dancers were paid HK$150 a day, while artistes were only paid HK$80. That’s when TVB decided to sign me.”
Ray is extremely thankful for Lee Ka-ting’s help in pushing him into this industry. “It was all thanks to him that I’ve become an actor. Master Ting is also a walking encyclopedia. He’s taught me many things.”
Ray says he has many people to thank, including filmmaker Johnny Mak (麥當雄) and senior actress Lee Heung-kam (李香琴). “I should release a book to thank everyone. Maybe I’ll also use that opportunity to reminisce the past. I’ll think about it.”
As an actor who made his debut through TVB’s artiste training class, Ray started off with small, insignificant roles before finding stardom. He feels that Hong Kong’s current acting industry isn’t as bright as it was before. “The industry’s definitely gotten smaller. The environment has changed, and I feel a lot of this industry has moved onto mainland China. I’m always thinking about how I could help those up-and-coming young actors who want to join the industry.”
Ray’s last TVB drama was 2009’s Born Rich <富貴門>. What would it take for Ray to make a TVB comeback? “The script comes first,” he said. “Nothing is more important than that. Money actually comes second. We can’t always look at money when it comes to these things. The Hong Kong audiences and I have grown up together, and we’re connected. If TVB needs me, and they have a good script prepared, I would love to come back.” Has TVB approached you for an upcoming project? “Virginia Lok (樂易玲) and I have talked, but right now everything is at its planning stage.”
This article is written by Addy for JayneStars.com.