Sep 23, 2016
When Lo Wing Ki received an unexpected email a few months back, informing her she had won a scholarship, her immediate response was one of relief, quickly followed by joy. “I thought to myself, ‘Phew. I can finally focus on my studies. No more part-time job, but more theatre shows that I can afford’,” says Lo.
The Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts (HKAPA) student has just completed her Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree in Drama. She is proud of what’s been achieved in the past four years, although it hasn’t always been an easy ride. Not wanting to rely on her family financially, she has worked part-time in a promotions job while completing the full-time programme.
“It wasn’t easy to juggle between studying and working, but I needed the money to support myself. As a drama student I should also regularly watch theatre performances for inspiration, but they were not cheap,” Lo says.
Which may explain the sigh of relief when Lo realised she was awarded the Jaeger-LeCoultre Performing Arts Scholarship. Launched in December last year by the Swiss fine watchmaking brand Jaeger-LeCoultre, the scholarship is awarded annually to six outstanding students at the Academy, one from each of the six schools.
With the support of the scholarship, Lo has been a frequent Hong Kong theatregoer over the past few months. She has also viewed live performances by Britain’s National Theatre broadcast live at the city’s cinemas. Viewing live theatre and the broadcasts were formerly an option, not a given, which has made the Jaeger-LeCoultre scholarship all the more rewarding.
“Interestingly, I now find myself having more things to say when talking about theatre with other people, especially with the more experienced actors. The conversations are deeper, not just about scratching the surface,” she says.
At 27, Lo considered herself a mature-aged student at the Academy. She discovered her passion for acting in her early 20s when she worked as a freelance performer. She had already completed a qualification in creative media studies at the Institute of Vocational Education and decided to embark on a second degree. She applied to the Academy three times before her application was a success. “I was angry every time I got turned down. I swore I would never apply again, but I would do so the next year,” Lo says. “I had decided that acting would be my lifetime career and I knew the Academy was the right place to start.”
Her choice has turned out to be the right one. The past four years have afforded Lo plenty of opportunities to learn and improve her acting. It’s a process that has also allowed her to discover more about herself. “In acting, you have to be somewhat neutral and take away certain things from you in order to play a different person. In the process, you get to understand yourself better. I used to have a bad temper, but I got rid of that through acting.”
Lo is now job hunting, looking for a position in theatre. She understands it is unlikely to be an easy process but, as always, she is prepared to persevere.
“I surely will encounter difficulties and negative experiences in the years to come, but I hope I will never forget why I chose to be a theatre actress in the first place,” she says. “‘Choose what you love, love what you have chosen.’ That’s my motto.”