Winki Lai: “Acting Chose Me”
Turning heads with her bold performance in Al Cappuccino <反黑路人甲>, Winki Lai (赖慰玲) received a nomination for TVB Best Supporting Actress. Showing a lot of potential as an actress, Winki already caught the eye of several veteran artistes. However, Winki did not initially choose acting as her career, instead she felt that it was destiny that set her on the path.
In Al Cappuccino, Winki’s triad character feels the need to protect herself with a tough personality, but internally she only aspires to be a simple office worker. One memorable and humorous scene in the drama is when she forces Owen Cheung (張振朗) to marry her in order to keep the triad leader title in the family.
Winki explained that she took inspiration for her role from one of her favorite movies, Portland Street Blues <古惑仔情義篇之洪興十三妹>. “When I was younger I would constantly watch this movie. I felt that Sandra Ng’s (吳君如) character 13 Sister was so cool. I was very happy when the director told me that my character would be somewhat similar.”
The Foundation of a Loving Family
In real life, Winki’s family dynamics could not be more different. Growing up in a loving family gave her confidence to explore the world around her. “From childhood until now, my family has always brought me happiness. There were not too many family problems for me to deal with, and I had a great time playing around at school. My parents took great care of me, and allowed me to act and did not give me any stress when I returned home.”
Her parents’ love taught her that family is the most important in life. “I’ve learned that family is your safety net. They allow us to safely explore this world, and to bravely take our first steps. No matter how much failure you experience, home is always a safe haven.”
As the youngest daughter with two elder brothers, Winki naturally wished for a sister while growing up. “My family really loves me–if there is a chicken leg then I get it first! I grew up play fighting with my brothers, and I really wanted a sister when I was younger. All of my close friends have younger sisters except me. I fantasized about talking about clothes, makeup, and boys with my sister. However, I don’t feel like I am really missing out because my two brothers really love me,” Winki said.
“Acting Chose Me”
Winki’s love for acting started in fourth grade, when her second brother was about to graduate from sixth grade. The teacher had planned to bid farewell to the graduating class through a play and asked if anyone was interested. Winki volunteered, and since that day has never parted ways with acting. In middle school, she was also obsessed with acting in theater plays and collaborated with professional theatrical companies.
In Form 5, she applied to study acting and was accepted. However, she decided that she wanted to apply for university, and declined the opportunity. It was not until Form 7 that she decided to apply again. Luckily, she was accepted and later graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts (Honors) Degree in Drama from The Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts. She explained that her decision to re-apply was due to failing an A-level course, so she was unable to enter university. “I did not make a conscious decision to choose acting–rather acting chose me.”
Even though she was unable to enter university, Winki had the full support of her parents to pursue the performing arts. “My parents give me a lot of freedom. If I want to do something, then they’ll let me. My mother always said it doesn’t matter how late in the night I have to rehearse, as long as they are able to reach me. They also said that it is important that I am fully aware of what I am doing.”
Praised by Veteran Artistes
After graduating, Winki was offered a part in the 2014 TVB drama Never Dance Alone <女人俱樂部> at the recommendation of her teacher, veteran actress Law Koon Lan (羅冠蘭). She also gave fellow cast mate Rachel Lee (李麗珍) some acting tips.
When she filmed Lord of Shanghai <梟雄> with Anthony Wong (黃秋生), he praised Winki for being smart and that her acting skills were on the same level as Dodo Cheng (鄭裕玲)! Though honored by the praise, Winki remains grounded. “There is no need to magnify the situation–the future path is based on your decisions. It doesn’t matter if I receive any praise–I will still try my best to bring each character to life. If you care too much about what other people say, you won’t be able to act to your fullest potential.”
Balancing Motherhood and Acting
At 34 years old, Winki has a good balance in terms of career and family. In August 2017, she married fellow theater actor Leung Chi Fung (梁子峰) and gave birth to their son Marat in December. It seems impulsive to get married and have a child at a time when her career was just starting to take off, but Winki does not regret her decision.
“I never worried about this affecting my career. Family and career are both things that must co-exist. As well, the experiences of giving birth and taking care of a child will only help improve my acting skills. I feel that the lifespan of an actress is not just two or three years. For me, this is my lifetime career. As well, it is also important to work hard now that I have a child. I don’t want to become a housewife who is out of touch with society!”
While Marat is only two and a half years old, Winki knows that she will be giving her son the freedom to develop his life and make his own choices. “In this day and age, there is no way to fully control children. We can only teach them how to be good and brave people. The road is up to them.”
This article is written by Kiki for JayneStars.com.