Having shot to fame in music videos, Mandy Tam is now keen to explore a wider range of emotions through acting. She tells Zhang Mengying about her public image as well as the hidden parts her fans have yet to discover
Young, beautiful and driven, Mandy Tam is eager to take the next steps in a promising acting career. The 22-year-old Hong Kong native first appeared in ads and music videos but is now poised to take on more serious roles.
Among others, she takes inspiration from Jennifer Lawrence and her performance as Katniss Everdeen in The Hunger Games. “She’s tough and powerful but also vulnerable,” Tam says about Lawrence’s performance, adding that she aspires to explore a similar range within herself and in the world around her.
Wearing a casual T-shirt over sporty shorts, Tam is chatting with us after posing for a Dior lipstick campaign. In many ways, the different looks she wore during the shoot mirror the changes she has seen in herself.
“I loved sharp colours when I was in high school, but now I love colours that look comfortable,” Tam says of her preferred lipstick shades. “Dior matches my personality or the person I want to be: low-key but elegant.”
Tam is also “fresh” – a word she frequently uses to describe herself, her bold and curious attitude and the fact that she still has a lot to learn.
She thinks of herself as incredibly lucky to have had experience performing, especially after Covid-19 hit. After getting her start in late 2019, Tam’s first music video was for “Ultimatum”, a song by popular local band Dear Jane.
“I was fresh when I first worked with Dear Jane. I learned a lot from that experience such as how to capture emotions,” Tam says. Her popularity grew further after appearing in the video for Mr. E’s “A Series of Unfortunate Events” by Edan, an artist who rose to fame in the popular boy band Mirror.
Shooting “A Series of Unfortunate Events”, about the intricate and complex relationships between a woman (played by Tam) and two men (played by Edan and Locker Lam), was very enjoyable for Tam, who says it was like working with friends.
“The bond and connection between us touched me,” she says, recalling the final shoot on a rooftop when, as the friendship between the three main characters in the video fractured, she started to cry. “I couldn’t help crying, even off-camera.”
More demanding than what she was used to, the video required Tam push herself and experience subtle emotions. “That’s also when I fell in love with acting,” she says. “It stimulates me. I would be surrounded by all kinds of ideas every day.”
“Performing is a process of self-reflection to me,” she adds. “In acting, you need to express all kinds of emotions, which means there may be negative emotions that I don’t want to face, but I have to.”
When it comes to dream roles, Tam says she would love to take on something like Jun Ji-Hyun’s part in My Sassy Girl. “Jun is so interesting and fun,” she says. “And even the shooting itself is fun.”
The pandemic may have slowed things down for Tam – who has nevertheless been trying to cook healthy food, picked up dancing and taken acting lessons – but it has also given her more time to reflect on who she is and what she wants to be.
The female characters she likes are powerful but also contradictory. And it’s in the contradictions that Tam sees a little of herself. “My self-confidence used to rely on others’ recognition. When others recognise what I’ve done, I feel more happy,” she says. “But if my self-identity revolves around what others say, does that mean I lose my value when they’re not praising me? Gradually, I’m realising that this way of thinking is a bad habit.”
Tam also believes deeply that everyone has value, as long as they are willing to put in the effort. “I don’t think the value is related to how much work you have produced. It’s not like I would have more value if I had acted in more dramas or even directed my own works. The value is intrinsic.”
At the end of the day, she believes confidence should come from one’s own “core”. Every person is like a moon with different shapes, she says. “You could not always be hyper and confident. You have lows and highs. You have to face them.”
With Tam, there are two obvious sides to her personality: the pretty girl with the innocent smile and the complex, mysterious woman wearing Dior.
“I enjoy being both. But if you’re asking about the ‘real’ me, I would say it’s the one wearing a T-shirt and watching Netflix,” Tam says with a laugh. “That’s another ‘mystery’ because nobody can see this side of me.”
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CREDITS Creative concept and production / #legend Videographer / Jex Hair / Chris Cheng Makeup / Zoe Fan Photo / TMT Photo Assistant / Him Li, Mo Yu Stylist / Zaneta Cheng Wardrobe / Dior