She would like you to call her Gia. Gaile was her name when she started modelling at the age of 14. Scouted by Italian photographer Amedeo Volpe, her first job was posing for an Italian magazine in San Francisco. This summer, Lok returns to the big screen after a 13-year gap in Husband Killer. Here she talks about her name, finding confidence through yoga, surfing, and embracing life as it comes.
Why do people call you Gia?
Gia is actually my real, passport name. People who are a lot closer to me, like my family, usually call me Gia. When I first got here I was using a model name, so: Gaile. Now that I’m getting older, when I go to places where people don’t know me, when they ask me what my name is, I tell them it’s Gia. So now, when someone calls me Gaile I know it’s usually work-related
Three words to describe today’s shoot?
Breakthrough. Spring. Me.
You’ve designed jewellery and swimsuits. Is design something you’re interested in?
In the past I’ve worked with so many brands: jewellery, shoes, fashion. I love fashion and I love the passion of designing but it’s not an easy job. That’s why, after all these collaborations, I’ve learned to appreciate craftsmanship so much more. A T-shirt might be black but there’s hundreds and hundreds of different fabrics. I love fashion. It’s art and I appreciate designers and their hard work.
What projects are you working on?
I’m really happy my movie is coming out this summer. It’s a cult film and it’s in Chinese. I haven’t seen the whole movie yet.
Tell us more.
My character is somewhat of a mistress and she works in the Special Duties Unit. I’m always being beaten up, so much so that I can’t tell if it’s a comedy or a horror film. It’s just really funny. There are so many scenes where I laugh when I rewatch them.
Who are your co-stars?
I worked with Stephy Tang and Chrissie Chau. The last time I did a film it was also with Stephy.Do you have a favourite memory from the movie?
I really look up to Alien Sun. She’s such an inspiration and we’ve done several movies together. There’s this one scene where I felt so bad for her. If you’re reading this, Alien, I’m so sorry. She was supposed to throw me onto the floor and I was supposed to spit blood on her. The first time we did it, there were only a few specks of blood on her face. They said, no, you need more. When I sprayed it out again, her whole face was covered. Everyone laughed.
Would you like to do more movies?
I think it’d be interesting but I wouldn’t be unhappy if I didn’t, either. Looking back at when I was 14 and where I am now, I’m already so happy. As human beings, we always want more. But you have to remember from when you were young. I didn’t even dream of being able to buy a Chanel purse. Being able to work and own your own property, start your own business, you have to remember that and be happy for that. If I get an Oscar or something one day, it’ll be a bonus.
If you weren’t a model or an actress, what would you be?
I’d probably be some kind of artist. I love painting, and I wish I had more time to focus on that now. But I’ve always wanted to do something creative. And now that I’m getting so into yoga, maybe I want to be a yoga teacher one day.
Do you think you’ve found confidence in your thirties?
Yes. In my twenties I was so much less confident. In my thirties, I think I look so much better, I’m so much happier, and there were so many things I had to go through to get there. I just want to remind all the girls that age doesn’t define anything. It’s you that lets yourself become less confident or unsure. There’s no need, though. Look at me, or look at Julianne Moore, Meryl Streep – they’re all amazing. You’ve just got to embrace it and live it.
Are there any imperfections you used to try to hide?
Flaws are beautiful. There’s no such thing as being perfect. We’re all human. I would say I sometimes have a beer belly, but I definitely embrace that. I mean, for today’s shoot I did yoga for several days and ate less at night, but sometimes on camera I have a baby face and I look like a chipmunk.
Love or success?
Love is success. I think you have to have both. It’s a balance. But love means you have to love yourself first. If you can’t even love yourself, it’s hard to be able to treat someone else very well. It could be family or a friend. For me, yoga really changed me because it doesn’t tell you to change yourself. It tells you to accept yourself. Yoga made me more confident about myself.
Yoga or surfing?
Both. Every time I’m in Bali, the surf is always really good at 9am, but that’s also when all the best yoga classes start. I always struggle; do I want to go surfing or do I want to do yoga?
Are you a morning person or a night owl?
I’m a morning person. If I can choose, I’ll always go to sleep at 10pm. I like the mornings and I think that’s something that came from doing yoga and surfing. It’s made me change my lifestyle.
Name one guilty pleasure you have?
My guilty pleasure will definitely be NFL. I always go back to America in the winter so I can watch American football. I have to have my fried chicken and my beer, or sit on the couch with my nachos and tacos.
The media have always shown interest in your love life. Does that bother you?
It doesn’t bother me. I think that the only time it ever bothers me is when it’s miswritten and it affects other people. Sometimes a photograph says a thousand words. If it’s just about me, it’s fine, but not if it involves another person, like my mum or a friend. I’ve learned that when you talk to media, you have to talk to them like any friend. If they ask you something, you have to be honest. You know who you are and who your friends are.
Photography / Karl Lam from Karl Studio
Styling /Kieran Ho
Make-up / Karen You at Hong Kong Makeup Artist
Hair / Vic Lai
Styling Assistant / Yat Man