Steven Ma Makes Hong Kong Comeback

Steven Ma (馬浚偉) ended his contract with TVB last year due to poor working conditions and tense relationships with upper management. Afterward, he filmed several mainland series while hoping to make a comeback in Hong Kong someday. During this time, TVB and other rival stations attempted to lure Steven back to Hong Kong with promises of better roles and bigger salaries. While Steven admitted that HKTV’s Ricky Wong tried to recruit him, he ultimately decided to return to his “maternal home” at TVB.

In 1993, Steven made his debut as a singer after winning first place in a singing competition. He scored a record deal as part of the prize package and went on to release his first full-length album in December of that year. During an interview with Commercial Radio Hong Kong today, Steven reflected on his early music career and shared that he nearly considered quitting the business. “During my debut, the record company created a marketing slogan: ‘He is not Jacky Cheung (張學友). He is not Leon Lai (黎明). He is not Hacken Lee (李克勤). He is Steven Ma.’ This offended so many people. My third album also had poor sales, so I thought about quitting.”

Due to the negative publicity and low sales figures, Steven’s record label did not renew his contract at the end of its term. Ready to head back to the “real world”, Steven received an opportunity that forever changed his career. By chance, Steven met TVB executive Catherine Tsang (曾勵珍) whom he still credits as his mentor. “Catherine Jeh invited me to film The Duke of the Mount Deer 1998 <鹿鼎記>. I didn’t want to shave off all of my hair, but I’m really grateful to her for giving me the opportunity.”

Steven’s performance as the righteous Emperor Kangxi changed his public image and put him in the spotlight. Since then, Steven participated in various major dramas, earning his place as one of TVB’s first-line actors.

Despite Steven’s acting success, he felt trapped after 18 years of working at TVB. Last year, reports surfaced that Steven ended his contract with TVB because of low pay and decreasing opportunities. There were also gossips that Steven had a tense relationship with several TVB executives, most notably Virginia Lok (樂易玲).

Some said that TVB tried to unfairly suppress Steven’s opportunities. In today’s radio interview, Steven clarified the situation. “There was a grand production in mainland China and I was invited to film as the third male lead. I really wanted to do it, but the company [TVB] didn’t want me to. They thought I should’ve been the second or even first male lead. The company was just looking out for me, not trying to suppress me.”

Steven will return to TVB in May to film for producer Leung Choi Yeun’s (梁材遠) period drama Property Protector <守業者> with friends Tavia Yeung (楊怡), Maggie Shiu (邵美琪), and Evergreen Mak (麥長青). When asked about his decision to return to TVB, Steven replied, “Ricky Wong [from HKTV] did approach me, but I hold more sentiments towards TVB. Even though I am filming for TVB again, I will only sign a per-series contract. I hope that I can make music and film dramas in Hong Kong while also making movies in mainland.”

This article is written by Katrine for

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  1. Great to know that Steven is coming back,but I wish it were an ancient series instead. There have been way too many modern series made lately. I really miss a good ancient TVB series.

    1. HeTieShou,

      Ancient series cost too much money. Between the costume sets, props, and the growing trend of filming in mainland’s Hengdian Studios, everything adds up.

      1. Jayne,
        I know that ancient series cost a lot more money, take a lot more time and work. However, who said they had to film in HengDian World Studios?? back in the days, they were able to film great ancient series at their old TVB studios which was a lot smaller and was not as fancy as the one they have now. I guess they are just cheap, lacking talent in front and behind the cameras,etc… TVB is really sinking ship. NO wonder many are turning to China for a good ancient series.

      2. Doesn’t TVB have a traditional for reusing all their costumes?

        While it’s true that ancient dramas cost more, are TVB’s coffers empty? Why can TVB not afford to follow the trends when Mainland studios can?

      3. I don’t find anything wrong with reusing costumes at all since it would be a big waste to spend so much money on an outfit to wear/use it only once. I am sure that the companies in China would reuse costumes as well so nothing is wrong with that. But I guess since they have a bigger variety, many probably may not remember when they reuse a costume versus TVB.

        Another reason is, I bet they don’t have any good scripts or stories for a good ancient series. Also, since China is advancing in that area, I wonder how TVB can compete with China?? Therefore, they must resort to modern drama to attract viewers since China is still lacking in the modern drama area.

      4. The only ancient series tvb may be doing is crouching mountain hidden dragon.

      5. Read from another website that Kenneth Ma confirmed to be leading in the series.

    2. Too bad TVB good quality wuxia series were produced in 80’s, after that era most of them are failure. Yeah, I miss a lot too about Condor Trilogy, Chor Lau Heung, Luk Siu Fung, etc. Talking about The Duke of Mount Deer, 84’s version (Andy Lau & Tony Leung) is much much better than 98’s (Steven Ma & Jordan Chan).

  2. Steven is a talented Actor and Singer, rare within TVB. Would be gem to see Steven performing with Charmaine whos also returning. Both gems.

  3. Hm, his upcoming series, did he specifically request for Evergreen, Maggie and Tavia? It’s not the typical TVB castings with a ‘goddess’ or a ‘BB’ or something.

    1. He briefly mentioned in recent interviews before the casting that if he were to go back to filming for TVB, he’d like to collaborate with Tavia or Fala again out of the female artists’. As for if he actually did request for anyone for this series, who knows.

      1. I was wondering the same thing but am guessing that maybe he only requested the female lead, but not necessarily the others. However, I am sure he is happy to work with any of his old friends/colleagues again.

    2. Steven has already verified (vid)that contrary to news reports he did not at any time request to have Tavia as his partner. Evergreen is a replacement for Bobby Au Yeung, who backed out of the series because of his unexpected health scare.

      Clementine: he’d like to collaborate with Tavia or Fala again out of the female artists’.

      I believe his quote is taken out of context and edited. In other reports of the same interview, their headline was “Steven Ma Wants to Work with Good Artistes.”

      And his reported quote in these reports was: “any good artists I’d be happy to work with them”

    1. Feb this year, Steven was in this mainland variety show, Generation Show. There, the celebrity guests are placed in different generation teams according to some dubious criteria such age and whatnot. Anyway Steven was assigned to the 90s team while another who is younger than him by a year is assigned to the 70s.

      Steven looks really good in the show

  4. This guy is so underrated. Lost the TV King title so many times…but I hope he returns strong and make that title a run for its money.

  5. So all that complaining he did last year about TVB pretty much backfired on him…..he’s back to the same sh*thole.

    1. In what way did it ‘backfire’ on him..?? TVB basically wants him back. He was to decide yes or no.

    2. TVB requested for him to come back and he is doing it as a favor, therefore, how did it backfire on him??? He is successful in China so it is not like he HAD to come back to TVB. He did it out of gratitude…

    3. If you read the actual article, you will notice it says he’s back at TVB because he’s loyal to TVB. Furthermore, at best he’s (wisely) agreeing to a per-series contract and not signing his life away to TVB’s usual slave conditions. So… how did that backfire on him?!

  6. Belatedly listening to Steven’s 4/13/2013 radio chat with hosts on
    2013/04/13 大家「真」風騷6

    (大家「真」風騷6)@ 27:43 One of the topics brought up is Catherine Tsang. This one host (can’t catch his name)says that his sense of indebtedness is so strong toward her that if one day this 3 words – Tsang Lai Zhen (曾勵珍) came to him asking him to shoot a tvb series, not only would he shoot it he would do it free of change too for the 1st series. (keyword – the 1st series. Co-hosts tease what if the 1st series is an 100 over episode sitcom? lol!) Because to him — this ‘yan ching zai’ (human indebtedness) has to be repaid, is most difficult to repay, and moreover does not have an expiration date. And per his co-hosts’ responses – this is not the first time he has publicly announced his sentiment. So he definitely understands Steven’s deep sense of indebtedness towards Catherine.

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