TVB Artists On Working in China

By on September 22, 2013 in TV Dramas

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TVB artists continue to take increased prominence in mainland Chinese dramas. From Kevin Cheng’s (鄭嘉穎) highly promoted title role in the Ip Man <叶问> television drama, to Jessica Hsuan’s (宣萱) much-anticipated performance in The War of Beauties <爱情悠悠药草香>, the so-called Republican-era version of The Legend of Zhen Huan <后宫甄嬛传>, TVB artists returned to the radar of many mainland Chinese drama enthusiasts this summer.

In recent years, there has been an increase of TVB and other Hong Kong artists filming mainland Chinese dramas. Although these artists were not always the main leads in the story, TVB actors took center stage when it came to promotions and popularity.

Speaking with the media over the past few weeks, several TVB artists gave reasons as to why they decided to shift their careers to mainland China. Cited reasons include and more freedom in work choices.

Gallen Lo: More Time to Rest

Gallen Lo (羅嘉良) made his debut performance on TVB’s City Japes <城市故事> in 1986, and achieved pan-Asian fame in 1996’s Cold Blood, Warm Heart <天地男兒>. After starring in 1997’s highly acclaimed Old Time Buddy <難兄難弟>, Gallen cemented his status as TVB’s number one leading star. His role in 1999’s blockbuster drama At the Threshold of an Era <創世紀>, which spawned two series, was also tailor-made for him.

Due to his popularity, Gallen became one of the first TVB artists to start afresh in mainland China. In 2003, he filmed The Fugitive <天涯追缉令> and Permutation <反串>. In 2009, he married mainland Chinese artist Sophie Su (苏岩). Recently, Gallen has filmed Terracotta Warriors <古今大战秦俑情> and The Patriot Yue Fei <精忠岳飞>.

Gallen is satisfied with his current career in mainland China. He said, “We enjoy life, so we will not take our career so heavily.”

As for why many TVB artists decided to pursue careers in mainland China, Gallen expressed that they were just following the general trend. “Mainland China has a bigger market. I was able to do more challenging things, such as playing roles like Qin Hui [in The Patriot Yue Fei]. When I was in TVB, most of my projects were modern dramas. Also, in mainland China, my income is several times higher than what I had with TVB. I also have more free time now. I can consistently get six to seven hours of sleep per day now. I can’t imagine doing that back then.”

Hawick Lau: TVB Was Too “Safe”

Hawick Lau’s (劉愷威) father Lau Dan (劉丹) is TVB veteran, but that did not stop him from leaving the station to search for new opportunities. Though Hawick became well-known after starring in the sitcom Virtues of Harmony <皆大歡喜>, he left the station in 2004, after completing My Family <甜孫爺爺>.

“TVB’s lifestyle was too fast. I only had time to sleep up to about four hours a day. But at the same time, TVB’s environment was too safe. You would lack the motivation to push yourself. That’s why I was attracted to the mainland market. It is fresh.”

Now considered as one of mainland China’s top leading actors, Hawick also took on the challenge of becoming a television producer. His production company is currently producing his second television drama, Yinian and Xiangbei <一念向北>, which also stars Hawick himself. The 38-year-old’s romance with China’s darling Yang Mi (杨幂) also contributed to Hawick’s popularity.

Hawick did not achieve true success until after moving his career to mainland China, but the actor still considers TVB to be his “mother station.” He said, “I am thankful to TVB for cultivating me in my first ten years. TVB is a very strict company, and I felt like I was going to a white-collar job every morning. I was trained in the basics of acting really well.”

Hawick also added, “Since graduating from TVB acting class, I got used to using only about 2,000 to 3,000 RMB a day.”

Kevin Cheng: China Has Fresh Actors

Kevin Cheng (鄭嘉穎) had a rough shot to stardom – after failing to hold up a singing career in Hong Kong, he was forced to pursue an acting career in Taiwan, only to return to Hong Kong a few years later because his career in Taiwan did not go so well either.

The two-time TV King rose to prominence in mainland China after starring in 2011’s Bu Bu Jing Xin <步步惊心>. His role as Ip Man in the 2013 television adaptation also lifted his star status in mainland China.

“In retrospect, I’d say going to Taiwan was because I had no choice. Returning to Hong Kong was because I wanted to, and coming to mainland China was because I was following everyone else. Earning higher income in mainland China is no secret, but in mainland China, we have fresh experiences. TVB is really good at training young actors and directors, but if you stick with them long enough, you’ll notice that you’ll be filming with the same people over and over again. In mainland, it’s different. There are many talented actors to work with that can stimulate your acting.”

Ada Choi: More Free Time

Ada Choi (蔡少芬) joined TVB through the 1991 Miss Hong Kong Beauty Pageant. In 1998, Ada became the youngest actress to win the TVB Anniversary Award for Best Actress at 27 years old. In 2003, Ada filmed mainland China’s Shui Yue Dong Tian <水月洞天>, meeting current husband Max Zhang (張晉).

Ada consistently filmed in mainland China, but it was 2012’s The Legend of Zhen Huan that brought Ada critical acclaim in China.

The mother of two expressed that she enjoys filming in mainland China, explaining that she has more time to rest and relax with friends. She clarified that though mainland Chinese production companies pay their artists higher, she stressed that TVB’s “low” pay was not as harsh as what the media made it seem.

She added, “Many artists are still willing to remain with TVB despite the lower pay. The TVB label is made of gold.”

Source: Sina.com

This article is written by Addy for JayneStars.com.

17 comments to TVB Artists On Working in China

  1. picklehead says:

    Why is it artists don’t have time to sleep? Is TVB schedules that hectic that you are constantly filiming? IF that’s the case it’s not like TVB is churning out series every month.

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    • Ling replied:

      Uh yes they are. There’s more than 12 series aired each year, just do the math and you will see.

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      • llwy12 replied:

        Actually, it’s way more than that….the number is closer to 20 to 25 series that air per year (depending on the length of the series and the timeslots they get assigned to).

        And yes, artists are pretty much filming nonstop, though to be very honest, the artists currently have it alot easier than in the past…back in the 70s/80s/early 90s, it was actually quite common for one artist to be filming several series at the same time (Dodo Cheng used to have the nickname ‘9 Team Cheng’ because her ‘record’ was filming 9 series/shows at the same time). Nowadays, most artists only film one series at a time with an occasional overlap here or there….

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  2. Funn Lim says:

    ““In retrospect, I’d say going to Taiwan was because I had no choice. Returning to Hong Kong was because I wanted to, and coming to mainland China was because I was following everyone else.”

    Kevin said it best. I applaud his honesty. Which is why I rubbish all those negative reports against him. He is probably the very few who gives a good answer to any question thrown at him.

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    • sandcherry replied:

      At least Kevin Cheng was honest.

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    • HeTieShou replied:

      I am glad that Kevin is honest too. Kevin has been in the industry long enough to know their tactics.

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    • lol replied:

      I think Kevin likes to keep quiet and can be easy to pick on with negative news

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  3. lol says:

    Doesn’t tvb have like 20 to 24 series each year and gallen use to film 3 to 4 series a year and most was about 40 ep long

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  4. Teecee says:

    Of course hours are tough, they only take a couple of months to finish a 20-40 episode series while in America it takes them a week to film one episode. Then again time slots in HK is different since they’re airing series every week while in the U.S. tv shows don’t debut until the fall. I think if TVB have better time managements and completes scripts before it starts filming that would be less stressful for the artistes though I heard those are changes being done starting next year which may be an improvement.

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    • Hard works pays replied:

      America’s are sitcoms, aired once a week. TVB air 5 times a week.

      See the difference in workload and schedule! Everything is slow in America, they said it takes ages just to to construct one building, in Asia, it’s completed within years, 3 or less. Even faster if in China.

      This is the difference between Asian hard work and the west’s relaxed pace.

      So, the Asians deserved all the money they earned, you get what you give out.

      Hollywood stars are actually overpaid, not because they are so great, but because their films are in demand.

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      • Teecee replied:

        Asia’a work ethics not just for those in entertainment but all types of professions are always stressful and they expect their workers to work long hours. They don’t get paid very well either, different work ethics but it’s easy to tell which one has more fair regulations and expectations for their artistes.

        Only some Hollywood stars are overpaid even so they deserve every bit of it too. TVB don’t film nor take risks like they do in the U.S. Besides their budget is incredibly small for a international wide television broadcast, it’s not worth it.

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      • llwy12 replied:

        Um, actually, being ‘fast’ isn’t necessarily a good thing….it’s the quality that counts, not the quantity. Sure, the pace is more relaxed in the U.S., but part of that is because most U.S. companies go ‘by the book’ in terms of ensuring that all laws and regulations are being met, whereas Asian companies focus more on getting results in the shortest amount of time. The culture and mindset are completely different, so it’s kind of hard to compare the two. Many artists and behind the scenes people from Asia who have worked in Hollywood have commented on how different things are — whether that’s a good or bad thing depends on the way you look at it.

        In my opinion….sure, things may be slower in Hollywood, but from an artist’s perspective, they are treated more ‘humanely’ in that they are given sufficient time to rest and replenish, whereas in HK, most artists are worked to the point that they might not even sleep for several days straight.

        In terms of whether Hollywood stars are overpaid or not, that’s really a subjective question. Keep in mind that the laws work differently in the U.S. versus in HK (and in California, there are additional state laws that need to be followed as well), so that plays a role as well — for example, most of the U.S. companies (the reputable ones at least) pay their staff O.T. if they work more than 8 hours a day, 40 hours a week (employers are required to do so by law), but most Chinese companies find a way around this because they don’t want to fork out the extra money but still make the employee work the longer hours.

        Bottom line — it’s not just about the work ethics, schedules, or money…the difference between filming in Hollywood versus in HK is too complicated to ‘generalize’ down to one thing.

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      • Truly Asian replied:

        Look, look, all the asian yanks coming out to their rescue, and say the west has quality,… blah blah.

        I had lived in the US for few years, i know how their tv programmes are like, their sitcoms don’t captivate audiences in story telling and scripts the way HK and Asian dramas do.

        Their work ethic is slow, and it is exactly this kind of relaxed lifestyle that makes them favoured by Asian immigrants who want to ‘escape’ the highly competitive environ of the east.

        HK is a country with a secure rule of law, the mentality and culture calls for self-sacrifice of time and effort to progress up the social chain and obtain an edge, not exploitation by the companies, as you guys seem to imply.

        Asian countries has laws for OT too, and they do provide OT, but employees are not calculative to the latter of the book, don’t think Asia means hard labor, exploitative labor, and the west is all th eland of milk and honey.

        Why do you think all the Canada girls, American girls like Fala Chen, Aimee Chan, come back home east for their careers?

        Why do you think HK people all came back to HK after ‘escaping’ to Canada on the back of the fear of 1997 in the 90s?

        Becasue Asia is progessive, fast paced and where you can made your mark. The west is good for retirement. Period.

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      • sandcherry replied:

        Why do you think all the Canada girls, American girls like Fala Chen, Aimee Chan, come back home east for their careers?
        ——————————————————–
        Reasons: How many Asian girls can make it all the way to Hollywood? If Fala Chen, Linda Chung, Bernice Liu, Selena Li, Aimee Chan did go to Hong Kong to try their luck, they would never make it to Hollywood.

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      • Anon replied:

        Truly Asian

        Your opinion is so incredibly bias.

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      • Erika replied:

        I think you’re absolutely right Sandcherry. I don’t think it’s biased at all. How many Asian women do you see on American television Anon? A handful at the most, ever. Maybe things will change in the future but for the Chinese actresses mentioned the quickest and the path of least resistance is to launch their careers in Asia.

        sandcherry says:
        September 24, 2013 at 3:10 am

        Why do you think all the Canada girls, American girls like Fala Chen, Aimee Chan, come back home east for their careers?
        ——————————————————–
        Reasons: How many Asian girls can make it all the way to Hollywood? If Fala Chen, Linda Chung, Bernice Liu, Selena Li, Aimee Chan did go to Hong Kong to try their luck, they would never make it to Hollywood.

        Anon says:
        September 24, 2013 at 3:39 am
        Truly Asian

        Your opinion is so incredibly bias.

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  5. fdadf says:

    they are better without tvb!! tvb is a crappy place lol glad people are leaving!

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