Sunday, October 01, 2006
[3 Weekly - Issue 364 - 30/09/06]
Translation by Em
Fighting the Rich Kid - Raymond Lam
There are two Raymond Lams.
One is in the eyes of men: annoying, playboy, rich kid, womaniser.
One is in the eyes of women: handsome, well-mannered, rich, suave, living off his own.
The same person gives two very different feelings to others. He has the genetics that can make women make him their Prince Charming and the credentials that other men despise. Fortunately this has not given him a split personality.
Raymond's father Lin Huaguo is a real estate developer in the mainland, dubbed "Lee Ka Shing of Xiamen"; his grandfather Lin Mengfei is the Deputy Chairman of the Fujian Provincial Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference and well respected.
With this family background, there is reason to believe that if he had insisted on studying Construction in America, he would have much fame and fortune and play an important part in upper class social circles. However, he chose to fall back into normal society and play minor parts in showbusiness for several years. Although Raymond has now found his own success, the media focus is always on his amazing background as they often refer to him as nothing more than a 'second generation rich kid'.
The words 'rich kid' is like an on/off switch. As soon as you mention it, then he will be lit up like a gas cooker and become more and more heated as he talks.
When the young master loses his temper, this is no small thing.
Fortunately, it is himself who has sworn to fight the rich kid.
Young Master ABC
In 1998, Raymond was studying in his first year at university in America and on his summer vacation in Hong Kong, he joined his father at a dinner party and a comment from a relative made him give up his studies in construction and join the artiste training class, starting his career as 'passerby ABC'.
With the thought of 'things are easy when you know people', many people think that Raymond's rise to notoriety was an easy one. With a rich father and rumours that he knows TVB board director Mrs Li, then surely just entering the class was a formality and he would be given lead roles on a plate as soon as he graduated?
Raymond brushes off these rumours: "My father only knew the artiste department manager Chan Koon Ming and in 1998, I had a meal with Mr Chan and my father. He just asked me whether I was interested in entering showbiz. All along, I did not know if I was suited to business and for him to ask me meant I had what it takes... at least I felt that way, so I decided to apply for the acting classes and right from the start, I did not depend on any help from anyone."
After graduating from the class, Raymond had several years of playing bit parts - in one scene he would be a general and then in the next, he was a corpse. However, not many people believe him. Even his colleagues and fellow artistes in TVB are suspicious of his words and it was only during the re-runs of "At the Threshold of an Era" last year, did Raymond prove his words as his Taiwanese prison guard role was aired for all to see.
"At the time, when people found out about my background, they would refer to me as 'young master' and someone once said very nastily that 'Raymond doesn't care for his wage'. That made me very unhappy and I don't really have a 'young master' temperament, I am just working at my job, so why do you have to call me that? Although many people still call me that name in the studios now, the feeling is very different and it has become more of a friendly nickname with a warmer attitude."
A Contract with his Father
Last year, Raymond announced that no matter how well he does in showbusiness, he will return to help his father in their business when he is 30 years old. He will return to normal life as a businessman. With three years to go, he reveals that there has been some changes to his agreement with his father and he no longer needs to keep this promise.
The Chinese have a saying, which is "The Son inherits the Father's Legacy" and in particular for families where the father has strived to build the business, then of course he would wish for his children and grandchildren to inherit his business and pass it down through the generations. Raymond is the eldest son in his family and his brother is 12 years younger than him and naturally, his father wishes for him to inherit the family business, but fortunately for us, Raymond's success in the entertainment business has for now given him a permit to continue.
When he first entered showbiz, Raymond made a promise to his father that when he reached the age of 30, he would return to help his father. However, with Raymond's great success in recent years, he has convinced his father of his determination in this career and that this is not just a stunt to show off, so his father has released him from his promise, allowing him to continue to pursue his career in the limelight.
Asked if he felt he could breathe a sigh of relief, Raymond thought for a while and replied: "A little!"
Raymond emphasised again that he has given more than other people, but this hard work is not to find great fame and fortune, but instead he has a very modest wish, which is to lose the title and image of 'rich kid'. However, people thought that his main aim of entering showbiz was to meet female celebrities. It did not help him that he was living in Dynasty Court and driving around in a Mercedes - luxuries that a normal artiste could never afford on their meagre salaries and as a result, he could not shake the 'rich kid' image at all.
You Can't Take it Away
Everyone has a weak spot and even rich and handsome Raymond is no exception. His weak spot is not the gossip, nor is it the rumours of his alleged cosmetic surgery. It is this branding of 'rich kid'. He can respond with ease to the questions about rumours, background and surgery, but as soon as you mention the words 'rich kid', then his young master temperament will surface with great vigour.
Since Raymond rose to popularity, he has had a constant stream of rumours, with Rain Li, Sonija Kwok and Sharon Chan all being dragged into the equation. Other stories have included being snapped at a club, suggestions of a nose job - asked how he responds to this, he says simply: "With so many stories, how many have been true? You say I have had a nose job, then you say I am womanising, but have you photographed me with a girl?" With that said, he gives a cool laugh.
When the words 'rich kid' are mentioned, Raymond immediately becomes angry: "I have to say that my family being rich does not mean that I am rich. There are many people in the industry who are richer than me, so why do you have to just talk about me? You can say that I don't need to give any money back to my family, but I still have to live, I have to eat, fill up my car, buy clothes. You can't expect a man in his twenties to keep asking his family for money. I really don't like people calling me a 'rich kid'. I am not working in showbiz for fun, if I was, then I would not find a job that only gives me two hours sleep in two days. Every time I film, I put my whole into it and since entering the industry, I have given more than double what other people have, even triple in some cases. I want to tell people that Raymond Lam is not messing about."
Only One Romance
Logically speaking, Raymond is tall and handsome and has popularity, so he should have a colourful love life to match, but Raymond indicates the he has only ever dated once and this was when he was studying in America. After entering showbiz, romance is out of the question because he has no time to date. Despite the rather cliched answer, for many women, this should be good news.
Not being an artiste and not being able to act, it is hard to disguise my surprise when I hear that Raymond has only ever dated once, so he takes the liberty to explain himself in more detail. "I know it is hard to believe, but I have honestly only dated once. When I was young, my family were very strict and would not let me go out to play with my friends outside of school. In the evenings after school, I had to go straight home and there would be a lot of questions if I was late home. I will tell you one more thing, I have never been camping in my life. Every time my friends arranged it, I was not allowed to go. As a result, the first time I dated a girl was when I was studying in America, but it only lasted for a year and most of the time we only communicated by post."
It is unbelievable when a man with credentials like Raymond tells you he has only ever had one date. If he was to start dating now, he would definitely not choose someone from showbiz circles: "If we were both from entertainment, then what she knows would be the same as what I know and there would be nothing to talk about. I hope that my girlfriend will be able to teach me and even if she is just a salesgirl, then she can teach me how to do sales and I can teach her to act. That way we will have endless conversation topics and will not get bored."
We are bad for all these negative thoughts. In truth, when Raymond told me that he did not have a young master temper, I did doubt him.
Surely for someone who has had servants from the day he was born will not be able to fend for himself, no matter how much of a sincere person he is inside?
As Raymond left after getting changed, I planned the footnote picture with the photographer and after he heard my idea, he laughed: "You are so bad to think of that!"
I will leave out the details and cut to the result.
A 'young master' with his manager and assistants by his side carries his own bags and things as he leaves as the three people beside him hold nothing.
Maybe, you will find Raymond's answers in this interview very boring or cliched, but in my opinion this is better than exaggerating everything, only for us to find out later that it is not true.
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