Stanley Yau is a member of Mirror, Hong Kong’s biggest boyband, and an actor to look out for. He tells David Ho about life as a pop sensation and developing his acting chops
For anyone living in Hong Kong, Mirror mania has been inescapable since the 12-member boyband was put together on ViuTV’s reality talent show Good Night Show – King Maker in 2018.
We’ve seen their faces plastered on the tram whenever one of them has a birthday. Billboards become shrines where fans gather to take pictures of their latest ad campaigns. Shops in youth-centric malls overflow with Mirror merchandise, and any product plastered with their images quickly becomes collectibles. It’s a devotion and fervour not seen for a local act since the peak days of the Four Heavenly Kings of Cantopop.
When we speak to Stanley Yau, a member of the band, we are surprised to hear that he still goes about his daily life largely undisturbed. “I still go about my daily life. I’m still able to go out and walk on the streets,” he says. “If fans recognize me, they are usually very polite and sweet about it.”
“But I’m actually a rather boring person. I don’t like to go out all the time, I prefer to stay at home. It’s good to have a balance between work and life.”
Of course, Yau’s work life has changed massively since his early days as a dancer for singers Sandy Lam, Aaron Kwok and Pakho Chau. Not only is the 33-year-old part of the biggest band Hong Kong has seen in a hot minute, but he is also proving to be an acting talent to watch out for.
In fact, Yau has just wrapped up filming for a ViuTV series in Taiwan when we have our chat. In this series coming out next year, he plays one-half of a couple that run a scuba diving shop. The role was a natural fit for Yau, who happens to be a PADI-certified diver.
“I enjoy performing in general. Acting is a whole new challenge for me, so I’m eager to try out different forms of performance arts. I loved movies and TV dramas when I was young and that’s why I want to try to be an actor. The more acting I’ve done, the more I love it because I like working as a team. You need to work with the props, the crew, other actors… I enjoy the teamwork,” he says.
Of course, delving into a new artform is always a challenge. For Yau, it’s about delivering the right dose of drama for an authentic performance. “The biggest challenge is to be ‘yourself’. In front of the camera, it’s tempting to add more and lay it on. But I think the greatest actors like Tony Leung and Adam Driver are always natural,” he says. Yau points to Driver’s performance in Marriage Story as one he aspires to, given how “precise” it was. “It’s easy to get nervous in front of the camera but less is more,” he notes.
Clearly, Yau is keen to turn in nuanced performances and has the intelligence to observe and pick up on what makes good acting. During our chat, we discover a shared appreciation for the stellar writing and juicy performances in Netflix’s Beef, starring Ali Wong and Steven Yeun. He has also been indulging in the K-drama Moving on Disney+.
Though he may take acting seriously, he is still having fun with the craft along the way. Yau recently wrapped up filming a movie called We 12 with his Mirror bandmates. “That was a fun experience, as we are close and at ease around each other. It’s an action-comedy movie where we play 12 thieves who must work together to steal a weapon that can destroy the world. The message of the movie is about unity. On missions, we must stick together and our combined powers will be more than just what one person is capable of,” he reveals. This sounds like a feel-good flick that Mirror fans will enjoy, particularly with all members sharing screen time.
Speaking of Mirror, Yau tells us that the boys are getting back together for a new dance single soon. The recording of the song, made with a new producer the boys have enlisted, will take place a couple of weeks after our convo. It has now been revealed that the song is “Catch a Vibe”, with the music video showing the boys doing what they do best – performing their nifty footwork to a catchy pop tune.
Given how choreo-heavy their video routines are, one must be able to pick up moves quickly to deliver them convincingly on screen. This is where Yau’s background as a dancer comes in useful. He shares that the process can be quite rushed and arduous.
“It can be pretty rushed. We have usually have five to six rehearsals before we shoot the video. It’s also hard to get all of 12 of us in the same place at once since we are all pretty busy. If we are doing live performances, we might get to rehearse a couple more times,” he says. For anyone with two left feet, that would be an impossible task. But Yau and co make it look easy with how sleek and smoothly they pull it off.
Mirror member Jer Lau, Anson Lo, Keung To and Edan Lui held a series of solo concerts in July and August. But surprisingly, Yau has been more quiet on the solo music front. He has released only two solo songs to date. The first was Reintroduce in 2022, the theme song for Hong Kong drama Into The Wild, which Yau played the lead role in. Then his first standalone solo single came this year in the form of Never Too Late, a ballad that is a touching tribute to his late mother.
“My mother never got to watch me live in concert when she was alive. So I want do a song dedicated to her in my concerts. Of course, the process was very emotional. Anytime I sing the song, so many memories of her come back to me. It’s hard, it’s heavy but it’s a release for myself,” he says. The emotional music video notably features a voice clip of Yau’s late mother. In the clip, she can be heard asking Yau if he has eaten. It’s a rare recording as she wasn’t very adept at using smartphones, he had previously stated.
It’s a labour of love that has proven to be a meaningful milestone for him and his fans. He shares that after its release, he received many messages and comments about how the song had moved them. “I didn’t want this song to be anything other than an emotional release for myself and anyone else who might be going through the same thing. It’s mainly a tribute to my mother,” he says.
Yau himself enjoys listening to R&B music in his spare time. He cites Taiwanese artists like Yoga Lin, Wu Bai and the EggPlantEgg band as some of his favourites. But he especially looks up to Bruno Mars for being an artiste who is able to do it all, from dancing to writing his own hits. We both gush over Mars’ SuperBowl dance battle with Beyoncé, which he claims to have “watched a thousand times.”
But Yau has kept his focus on music minimal to focus on acting. He seems rather enamoured with the film making process, as he shares that he has taken up a course on scriptwriting. “I want to explore different paths in storytelling. I want try directing, writing a script… It all feeds into my acting, as it helps me think more freely and widely,” he says. Yau would like to eventually try his hand at making films, leaning towards telling a love story for his debut.
But be it in music or film, Yau is ever mindful of his audience. “Without them, we are nothing. There are so many great people they can support and look up to, but they chose us,” he says. “For that, I’m very grateful.”
Creative concept and production: Hashtag Legend
Photography: The Buffacow
Lighting Assistant: Curtiss, Mike Lam
Photography Assistant: Kevin Cheung
Production Assistant: West Chu
Studio Manager: Duncan Lui
Videographer: Billy Elvis
Hair: Seiko Sin from Hair Culture
Makeup: Rainbow Chung from Annie G. Chan Makeup Centre
Styling: Perpetua Ip
Styling assistant : Ruby Chan
Watches: Tag Heuer
Wardrobe : Zegna, Versace, Sandro