From 2009 to 2019, viewers witnessed 39-year-old Lai Lok Yi (黎諾懿) move up in his career and achieve milestone after milestone. He has been in the industry for 17 years, but his overt self-confidence damaged his career when he first debuted. In fact, Lok Yi almost quit and changed fields during his lowest point when his bank account had a balance of zero. In an interview with Ming Pao, he shares how he managed to rewrite the stars and reach male lead-status at TVB.
Shortly after graduating from the TVB Training Class, he was given a major opportunity as the main lead in Hearts of Fencing <當四葉草碰上劍尖時> in 2002. Dubbed as the bootlegged Danny Chan (陳百強), Lok Yi was heavily promoted by TVB alongside Raymond Lam (林峯), Ron Ng (吴卓羲), Bosco Wong (黃宗澤), Sammul Chan (陳鍵鋒), and Kenneth Ma (馬國明). The actors were hailed as the “Olympic Six,” but Lok Yi initially failed to achieve the success of the other five stars due to his playfulness. Since his performance was mediocre as well, he was assigned to host children’s programs.
He Owed TVB Money
Fast-forward to 2009, and Lok Yi was still frustrated over his lackluster career. “I was unhappy because people said I moved slowly. The other five [Olympic Six] stars were starring as male leads, and I wasn’t part of it,” he recalled. “The reports said I didn’t count as the Olympic Six.”
Lok Yi continued, “I was young and angry, and I didn’t know how to deal with it. So I often went drinking when I didn’t have work, and as a result, I became very moldy. No one wanted to see me or interview me, and I was hiding at home.”
At that point, he chased his dreams for nearly 10 years with no results. To not worry his family, he originally planned on switching careers to earn money for his family. But a year later, Hunan TV invited him to participate in Strictly Come Dancing 3 <舞動奇跡3> and offered him a high pay. “I owed [TVB] money, and after filming four episodes, it was enough to pay off a whole year’s debt.”
A Turning Point
Working on Strictly Come Dancing 3 for nine months was the turning point in his career. While filming in Hunan, Lok Yi met a young female dancer from Beijing, Gina Jin (金晨). “She was full of energy, and she converted me after four weeks of dancing. We practiced for 13 to 14 hours every day. Since I’m not good at dancing, it was excessive exercising,” he shared. “On week seven, I lifted my partner overhead and jumped; I heard a crack. I had broken my foot. Gina came to my hotel room to express her condolences, which ignited my passion once again.”
The actor immediately went back to Hong Kong and sought Aaron Kwok’s doctor for help. Lok Yi returned to Hunan with a bandaged foot and continued competing in the show. “We went from two fans to half an audience of supporters. I still remember the feeling of winning the championship,” Lok Yi expressed.
He smiled and said he was pursuing former Miss Hong Kong and now wife Nicole Lee (李潔瑩) at the time, so it felt strange every time she saw his bruised and wounded body, but after he won the dancing competition, he received a lot of job offers from China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan – some for HKD 100,000 per episode. Thus, not only did he regain his popularity, but his confidence.
“I was still young, so I felt I should pick myself up at the place I fell. I wanted to do a good job in the Hong Kong market,” Lok Yi expressed. “[Nicole] asked me why I would push a Benz down into the ocean, but I felt that I could earn [the money] back. I didn’t know if I made the right choice though.”
Nicole Told Lok Yi Not to Waste Her Time
Lok Yi said, “My wife is so funny, she wanted to have kids after three years of dating, but the sitcom didn’t end even after 300 episodes. So she asked me, ‘Are you lying about marrying me? The drama is constantly extending its episodes. Do you actually want to marry me? Don’t waste my time!’ After I filmed 500 or so episodes, I took three days off from work to marry her.”
His Family Man Image Took Off
After marrying a good wife and having his son Little Spring Chicken (小春雞), Lok Yi’s career flourished even more. He gained immense popularity through Who Wants a Baby <BB來了>, Daddy Cool <逆緣>, and My Unfair Lady <不懂撒嬌的女人>.
“To be in this field, you need to know how to film dramas and how to get along with others,” Lok Yi expressed. “In recent years, I learned it’s important to communicate with others, so others would not find me annoying. When I was young, I thought I was so smart and did not need help. I only helped others, and I was afraid of stupid people. I got angry easily, yelled at people often, and cursed. It’s difficult to express emotions without swearing.”
His coworkers and wife often made fun of his fiery personality, and Fala Chen (陳法拉) even gave him the nickname, “Angry Monkey,” because his zodiac is the monkey. However, he’s calmed down a lot after he’s had his son.
Not only did his son change his personality, but his son also brought him more jobs. Last year, he and Who Wants a Baby costar Ali Lee (李佳芯) became the darlings of advertisers. In response to his 16 or so advertisements, Lok Yi humbly said, “Right now I have to take care of my family, but I honestly never thought everyone would like my daddy image. Maybe it’s the effect of Who Wants a Baby.”
He Loves Making Friends
Lok Yi also shared he enjoys making friends and broadening his social circle. Not to mention, his friends helped him solve a lot of his troubles during the last 10 years. However, when it comes to his coworkers, he frankly said, “I don’t know if my colleagues have a wall up to protect themselves, but everyone is a competitor. If I have something heartfelt to say or if I’m in agony, I wouldn’t tell them because they might expose me. As for Ekin Cheng (鄭伊健), he’s in the film industry, so if I complain about TVB to him, he wouldn’t spill it.”
Although there are not as many artistes joining TVB over the last 10 years, Lok Yi listed Samantha Ko (高海寧), Ali, and Kristal Tin (田蕊妮) as good friends in in the industry. Of the Olympic Six, he still talks to Kenneth because Kenneth is still at TVB.
Although he once compared himself to his colleagues, he just hopes for the public to acknowledge him now. Instead of yearning for an award, he prefers to reach the influential status of Louis Koo (古天樂), Chilam Cheung (張智霖), and Ekin.
Source: Ming Pao Canada
This article is written by MelodyC for JayneStars.com.