Shaun Tam Accepted Low TVB Pay for His Family

Although Shaun Tam (譚俊彥) had already built a career in China, he gave it up to join TVB in 2016 so he could be closer to his family in Hong Kong. While Shaun had already starred in leading roles in the short time he was with TVB, it came as a surprise the 39-year-old actor revealed that he took a large pay cut to join the station.

Recalling his role as the Jiaqing Emperor in Succession War <天命>, Shaun shared, “In fact, I was surprised that I filmed Succession War after just joining [the station]. There were no conditions when I signed. My salary was very low. It’s true. I thought it didn’t matter at that time because I could do other business or return to [China] to continue filming. I didn’t think much of it.”

Shaun did not understand how TVB operated and thought that he would have a lot of freedom when he joined. “Finally, TVB asked me to sign an exclusive contract. After I signed it, I couldn’t return to China to film anymore. I think it can’t be compared. I sacrificed something to replace something else I have now.”

Making Ends Meet with Low Pay

Making his choice to stay with TVB, Shaun revealed that he earned more when he filmed in China. When Shaun was younger, he only needed to work a couple of months to pay for a year of expenses. After getting married, Shaun would rather sacrifice his earning power to spend more time with family.

Shaun explained, “I also told them that I need to make ends meet. The first two years were hard, and I needed to be frugal. Right now, I can support my two children’s education. Before, I can change cars whenever I wanted and buy all the watches I liked. Maybe now that I have children, I need to look at things more closely.”

Working in TVB

Since joining TVB, Shaun discovered that artistes generally made friends with fellow co-stars and rarely interacted with minor or new artistes. While Shaun admitted that it was easier for him to talk to production staff, he also found a close friend in actor Sunny Tai (戴耀明). Shaun said, “Sunny can be said to be my first friend in TVB. Among colleagues and friends, many are sincere and many also have what you call [fake intentions]. Sunny is very genuine.”

Continuing to praise Sunny, Shaun said, “He acted as my eunuch in Succession War, so he had to stand near me even when he didn’t have lines. We talked a lot when we went home together. I told him I just joined TVB and didn’t know much. He took the initiative to eat together and introduced me to the producer. Even now when I don’t know how to act a role, I would remember his words to me, ‘The way you talk to your mom is different from how you speak to me. It’s different in every situation. Stop thinking so much.’ He was trying to teach me.”

Describing working in TVB as being in a knockout match, Shaun said if he slows down and doesn’t add value to himself, the next one to be eliminated would be him. Shaun shared, “I remember I was having difficulties with this scene and I would ask people around the set. I once asked Ben Wong (黃智賢) how to act. I [don’t mind] asking everyone to get a consensus opinion. If it’s not right, I don’t have to use [the suggestions].”

Source: HK01

This article is written by Sammi for

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  1. Shaun joined TVB because his career in China was going nowhere – not because he wanted to return to HK to be closer to his family. Even when filming at TVB, you would rarely be spending time with your family given how hectic and stressful the filming schedule is.

    It is so convenient to fly between China and HK these days to be with your family during your downtime that an excuse for working in HK is one that few would believe.

    Personally, his acting is rather wooden. His looks are rather average (for an actor). He wouldn’t have a chance of playing the lead in China like he would at TVB.

    1. @anon
      Shaun the best actor in Brutally Young though and that’s when all the make performances have been excellent. That’s makes it 2 in a row after being the best in Forensic Heroes 4. Joel and Dominic are great as always.

    2. @anon definitely agree even tho I don’t know who he is until he joins tvb. His acting is so wooden. Find him not worth watching at all.

    3. @anon
      i don’t think he’s bad looking. at least he’s pretty tall and got a good build. not very handsome but better acting could land him in a few chinese productions.

    4. @anon Hahah I agree, he didn’t really have a career in China. He also has a mundane and wooden onscreen presence

  2. Shaun is actually one of the newer TVB actors I look forward too. I think rather than thinking of him as wooden, I thought he is subtle. Something different than the usual brash, loud TVB characters thrown around. He could do emotional, obviously shown in Succession War and Brutally Young. And also, his built makes is good for ancient drama. None of those thin, fragile looking actors like Owen Cheung or Kevin Cheng.

      1. @luye Yep, really like him here. Also, love his acting in Succession War. I know the angry scenes could be OTT there, but the scenes between him and KK Cheung were some of the best.

    1. @pompidur i also agree his acting in brutally young is subtile, its a feature that only the best actors possess, such as actor tony leung and anthony wong. only negative thing is that he also possess some boring or wooden aura that may limit him to certain roles.

  3. Yep, I also liked him in Succession War. I know some of his angry scenes could be OTT there, but all the scenes he had with KK Cheung were the best. He did really well there.

  4. Shaun is a legend ! I know he’s still new and doing lead roles. But this guy has potential compare to actors who are in TVB for a while such as Benjamin Yeun, Matthew Ho, Matt Yeung, Owen Cheung, Shaun has lead material just like Vincent Wong or Joel Chan.

  5. Shaun is in the same category as Louis Cheung (It’s sad TVB blacklist him) But now.. Louis is doing HK movies.. EVEN BETTER !

  6. I’m not sure how successful he was in china but even a 2nd rate actor probably got more pay in china. In hk it would be the endorsement deals that pay the Bills. I like how be highlighted an actor who was helpful to him. He is not the greatest actor but he is charismatic and my eyes are drawn to him each time. I also find his sexy as well. Some may find him wooden but I know the difference between restrained and wooden. And even when restrained he is not pigeonholed but rather he expresses a lot more thru his eyes. His take on jiaqing was epic especially the scene when his eyes burnt with hurt, anger, jealousy whenever he looked at his father. He made jiaqing real accessible, not some hero or ideal emperor but an emperor who tried to do good but has personal demons. Hes great at imperfect roles. But I want to see him as a professional. He can speak several languages, and he can play an intellectual so I hope to see him in some big franchise series. I havent really seen brutally young though. He lost a lot of weight there, I find it difficult to watch. But dont dismiss him. He is probably tvbs most exciting actor right now, and I dont think he is trying hard yet.

  7. well if his pay is based on his acting skills, then it should probably be even lower.

  8. I don’t think he was that popular or known even in China no? I watched a c/series here and there so I wouldn’t know much on the actors but my mom watches alot and she didn’t even know who he was when she was at my place and I had that TVB series called ‘The Stunt’ on. Unless she just happen to watch some mainland series that he wasn’t in but she watches quite a lot as she gave up on TVB long time ago. Or he’s just a supporting cast and that’s always hard to even remember.

  9. Successful or not this guy really redeemed himself after that disaster we call FH4. Brutally Young has the best actors, script, and filming in a while. Shaun is definitely doing his anti hero character justice. He’s not conventionally handsome but his depth in acting as Sam can give Vincent Wong, Ruco and other 2nd leads a run for their money. But Joel is not outshined by Shaun. I think these two will make it big at TVB very soon

  10. His face does seem a little wooden to me. But maybe that’s just the role he is playing in Brutally Young…. but I do think his suit (the one that he wears to work as an auditor) is a little too tight. Not his fault of course.

  11. He is cashing in on his dad Ti Lung ,
    Without his dad , he would not have the same opportunities as his acting is crap

  12. nothing to worry about daddy is $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$ ! And TVB has to give face to Ti Lung Dai Go! seriously Ti Lung is a very good actor . You can find this films on netflix ! Legendary actor ! Shaun is a good actor too, handsome and he is very lucky to start as main actor in all the dramas.

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