Koo Ming Wah’s Crossroad Blues

TVB introduced two new rising stars to the Hong Kong television industry since the broadcast of Divas in Distress <巴不得媽媽…>: “Princess Heung Heung” Eliza Sam (岑麗香) and “So Gay” Koo Ming Wah (古明華). There is no doubt that a bright future is ahead for the 27-year-old Eliza, who recently won a large supporting role in TVB’s blockbuster, Triumph in the Skies 2 <衝上雲宵II >. But what about 48-year-old Koo Ming Wah? Tied to family and middle age, will Koo Ming Wah also be able to continue his successful streak in the future?

Like Wayne Lai (黎耀祥) and Evergreen Mak (麥長青), Koo Ming Wah is a “late bloomer” in the television industry. With classmates, Sunny Chan (陳錦鴻), Jim Chim (詹瑞文), Joey Leung (梁榮忠), Rain Lau (劉玉翠), and Cheung Kam Ching (張錦程), Koo graduated from The Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts in 1990 and joined TVB that same year. For the next eighteen years, Koo earned merely $10,000 HKD per month from his onscreen work.

Burdened by the medical expenses of his 14-year-old daughter Tammi, Koo decided to increase his income by also working as a voice actor for TVB, and joined the team in 2000.

Fifty Hours Without Sleep

Unlike Koo’s onscreen career, his voice acting career has been successful. Koo is the regular go-to voice actor for many Cantonese-dubbed Korean dramas and films, and became the regular voice actor for Park Sang Myeon (朴相勉), the star of 2001’s My Wife is a Gangster.

With two full-time jobs, Koo struggled to maintain a consistent lifestyle in the past twelve years. The work hours for a TVB voice actor is as unpredictable as regular onscreen TVB actors. Koo’s longest time without sleep was fifty hours.

Struggling to Pay for Daughter’s Medical Fees

Koo’s 14-year-old daughter, Tammi, is diagnosed with glomerulonephritis, which is the inflammation of the glomeruli, a small blood vessel in the kidneys. Symptoms of the disease include the swelling of the body, especially the facial area. Tammi’s medical fees currently cost is approximately $4,000 HKD per month.

“Two years ago, the symptoms worsened. Her head and body swelled up to over half of her original size, and she had to stay in the hospital for three months. There was also another time when my daughter got extremely dehydrated after the doctor drew out too much water from her body. We had to take her to the emergency room, and she almost died! My heart ached so much,” Koo said.

Tears were trickling down Koo’s eyes when discussing his family. When Tammi’s medical bills were increasing, Koo considered dropping his acting career completely. Choking back tears, Koo said, “My wife told me that as long as I’m doing what I love most, then everything will be fine. My daughter, who was only 11 years old at the time, told me this, ‘No. I know you like acting. My answer is no.’ I never really taught her anything about my career, yet she knows that her father loves acting.”

Fortunately, Tammi’s condition has improved significantly in the past year. Koo happily said, “Right now, she is stable and is keeping up with her medication. We used to have to pay at least $6,000 to $7,000 HKD per month, but right now, we only need to pay at most $4,000 HKD.”

At a Crossroad

Koo’s salary as a voice actor is three times higher than his salary as a regular TVB actor. After he completed Divas in Distress, Koo considered giving up his onscreen career to focus entirely on voice acting.  However, the success of his Divas in Distress character, So Gay, left Koo standing in the middle of a crossroad.

“When I see my daughter, I always tell myself that I cannot just take care of myself. I need to pay at least $80,000 HKD a year for my daughter’s medical costs, and the only way to concentrate on earning that much money is to have only one focus. I also want to have more time to spend with my family! I never knew that ‘So Gay’ would be such a big hit. Now it’s like I am at a crossroad – I don’t know how to choose! Maybe I’ll only do one drama per year, just to satisfy my acting itches.”

According to an online poll that was set up last week, over 70,000 Hong Kong netizens supported Koo Ming Wah to win Best Supporting Actor or Most Improved Actor at the TVB Anniversary Awards. A few days ago, over five different media firms were in line to give the actor an interview. What did it feel like to get recognized? Koo immediately cried!

Sources: Next Magazine #1176 via ihktv.com, ihktv.com

This article is written by Addy for JayneStars.com.

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  1. funny on episode 18 using his name in the series very parallel to his acting career 22 years ago.

  2. This shows that acting career is mostly about luck and good characters?

    1. Yes. Many actors have waited and waited for a good character to come by.

      With a handful of veterans out, it gives the ones staying a chance to shine.

    2. And chance and opportunity and a belief by some producer willing to take a risk.

  3. Koo Ming Wah is among one of the better supporting actors in TVB. Good that his talent is finally getting recognized.

  4. Ahh…the one time I don’t mind if TVB creates a pork chop award for Koo Ming Wah. He deserves the recognition!

  5. Never knew he has such a hard life so to speak. HIs performance as So Kei is probably the finest in years and he totally trampled on everyone in that series. Funniest is his real name is used as a character in a script!!

    1. “Most Improved Actor ” is am insult. Give him the supporting.

      1. I agree, give him best supporting! And Him can have Most improved LOl

  6. If it’s One man one vote, pretty sure he can get the Supporting.

    But Txb is always Txb, have to comfort the real kids first, then will consider the others later. HimHim is likely to have either Most Improved or Best Supporting.

    I just hope Koo Ming Wah after this will have bigger roles to have more money for Tammi.

  7. Who else will be in the running for Best Supporting Actor? To date, I think the other good ones are Ram Tseung in “Witness Insecurity”; and Kenneth Ma in “Tiger Cubs”.

    1. I don’t think Kenneth would get best supporting! That be offending lol, he should be getting either best actor OR favourite Male character for his character from Oncall36

      1. I don’t think Best Supporting is offending at all! If KM really does win BSA for that role, that just proves to me (and others) that he can even shine in a role that has limited screen time.

      2. What is so offending? Lolz, it’s up to which role he’ll be nominated. Maybe MM won’t be nominated with this On Call and can’t say anything.

        The best supporting should go to someone that will be promoted at next. MM already has the heavy promotion from Txb, he shouldn’t get this one and let it go to someone need the promotions more than him.

      3. Why would a best supporting role award be offending?!? Sharon Chan is a A-list actress but she was best supporting actress last year for her role in Ghetto Justice. What would be offending is the award goes to someone less deserving just because TVB wants to promote him.

  8. Heaven is watching over you, koo Ming Wah! Your hard works being recognition & you are blessed by Heaven! Continue your
    acting, please!!!

  9. So happy for Koo Ming Wah that finally his name and acting got recognized by TVB audience.

    So sad to learn about his daughter’s, Tammi’s, illness.

    Hope Koo Ming Wah’s acting career will prosper and his daughter’s health will improve more, and they will have a happy family.

  10. So happy n proud of So Gay! Love his acting n his character truely stand out. He deserve to win something this year anniversary. Add Oil!

  11. I hope he wins the supporting award, he deserves it! I also hopes the best for his daugther Tammi 🙂

  12. Definitely very happy for Koo Ming Wah –seeing him finally get the recognition he deserves after 18 difficult years gave me a warm feeling inside! I also hope that TVB gives him decent roles going forward (if he decides to stay with acting that is) because he absolutely deserves to be treated well! I’ll definitely continue rooting for him!

    Btw, here’s the translation of his interview with East Week Magazine…it’s a bit more detailed — reading this one actually brought me to tears (especially the parts where he talks about his mother and his daughter)…


    1. Thanks for posting the link. I read the article and knew more about Koo Ming Wah. It seems that he did not have much luck in his life ……….. his dancer-wife had a car accident after marriage and can’t dance any more and his daughter has kidney problems.

      Hope his bad luck has gone and he will be a luckier person from now on.

      1. Yup…plus the difficult childhood on top of that! Makes me all the happier to see him succeed now!

  13. So Gay is a brilliant character in the series. It definitely brings out a lot of laughter and a lot of unexpected twists. ALL HANDS UP FOR KOO MING WAH BEING BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR!!!

    I’ve seen him in different series but he’s always been such a “keh leh feh” kind of person. Never knew he had such a background story to his life. God bless you, Koo Ming Wah. Everything will be a-okay soon.

  14. Always like this guy. He always does a good supporting role! Hope he will find success!

  15. Take notes Gordon Liu. This is how a father acts.

    You can bet your ass that when Koo gets old, his daughter’s gonna take care of him in return.

  16. Well done and all the best for the future, Koo Ming Wah! Haha, even though I’ve been watching him all these years, I’ve never thought to myself, “hey, this guy has a nice voice!” Perhaps I should check out some of his voice acting.

  17. struggling for 18 years & passion for acting despite all those misfortunes.

    i really salute him!

    Hope everything will be smooth sailing for him in future.

  18. I don’t think it matters if he wins it or not. He has already won the audience over and that’s the important thing in acting. Doesn’t matter if he gets an award or not. It would be nice to be recognized but by the company but clearly with all these interviews, he’s already be recognized by th public. What more can an actor ask for?

    1. Very true! He even said himself in one of the interviews that prior to this, the last time he was interviewed by the press was back in 1993 when he was nominated for the Best Newcomer award at HKFA.

      Ever since ‘So Gay’ became a hit, he’s probably done like 10 interviews already, which is more interviews than he’s ever done in his lifetime.

      Oh and don’t forget the 74,000+ supporters on Facebook…

      He said himself that whether he gets an award or not isn’t important — the important thing for him (outside of his family) is that he can finally ‘repay’ those who continued to support him all these years and never gave up on him by letting them know that their support was not in vain…seeing how happy they are to see him ‘succeed’ now makes it all worthwhile…

  19. good actor and the best father!!!
    just love to see such a loving and caring father that think alot for the family

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