Sunday, October 29, 2006
[The Sun 28/10/06]
Virginia Lok talks with Charmaine Sheh about Work and Family
With the TVB Anniversary Awards looming, Charmaine Sheh is a hot favourite for the "Best Actress" award and amid a frenzy of media attention, she has brought along the most sensitive person, TVB Executive Virginia Lok, to be interviewed and also convincing her to talk about three male artistes she is currently promoting, including the golden boy Kevin Cheng.
C: Charmaine Sheh
V: Virginia Lok
C: Since you joined TVB, you have signed many management artistes. Why did you sign so many people and can you manage so many people at once?
V: In truth, I would like to manage all the people I have signed, but I don't have the ability. Including singers, TVB has about 600 artistes and each of them should be managed. IEP's are in fashion now, that is 'Individual Education Plan' and artistes need this even more. When an artiste sets out, then appearance and handling are very important, but our resources do not stretch to too much at the moment. If we can allow this resource, then we should sign even more artistes.
C: So we contracted artistes are very superior?
V: The group of you are in the higher echelons. You just need to sit casually and even if you are wearing a t-shirt, it sill looks good. You can handle situations well and even know how to do interviews now. Seeing your performance, then of course it makes me very happy. Even ignoring your position in TVB, at the very least, you walk out as yourself and are very presentable.
C: When you first joined TVB, you seemed rather tired, but now you are looking more and more energetic?
V: I have to be interviewed by you today, so I have put on some more make up and I had an early night last night, going to sleep at midnight and getting seven hours sleep.
Three Favoured Warriors
C: What are your criteria for signing artistes?
V: Appearance is the top priority, then I will have a chat with them and see what their potential is in, but whether I decide to sign them or not is down to whether they have discipline. TVB is not a company with just a few artistes and we have to support many people, but many disobedient artistes have still been given opportunities and there are many who have changed because of this.
C: For example?
V: I don't think there are many who are particularly bad, for example Bosco [Wong]. He used to like drinking and going clubbing and once caused trouble... over the past few years though, he has been very good. There were three people, who caused comments from colleagues when I signed them. The first was Bosco, because people thought he was naughty, but I spoke to him and spoke to his mother and found that his nature is actually very good. Secondly, someone that I thought he had a lot of potential, but everyone else thought he was bad and that was Kevin Cheng. Everyone felt that he was protected by a safety armour and was very difficult to work with because he was very timid. However, I felt he could do it. When you look at an artist, you have to see whether he has the motivation, you have it and so does Kevin. What is this motivation? You don't have it if you are kicked and don't move, if you can be started up, then you have it. The third person is Kenneth Ma, everyone says he is shy and does not know how to handle situations, because he started out late. However, I feel that he can be very handsome, has potential and puts a lot of work into his acting.
C: Talking of the anniversary, who are your choices for Best Actor and Actress?
V: I have my top five men and women in my mind, but I don't know if I will be part of the voting committee, so if I was, it would not be good for me to say now.
Facing Life and Death Strongly
C: You are so pretty, did you ever think of working in front of the camera before? (You know?) I have read magazines before!
V: I am very unnatural when faced with the camera.
C: You will feel like that at first.
V: Not necessarily! Some people can do it right from the beginning.
C: When I had my first screen test for "Flying Fox of Snowy Mountain", I was very scared!
V: You used to have a squeaky voice. I did watch you in "Return of the Cuckoo" and it was quite hard work.
C: Did you cry?
V: I very rarely cry and I rarely shed tears in front of other people! When my father died, I sorted everything out and completed all the arrangements and did not cry at all. In the following two years, his images were forever on my mind and when my eldest son was born, my attention was shifted onto the baby and it was only then that I started to shed tears. I think when I am tensed up, then I cannot cry! Also the tsunami, I nearly lost my youngest son and at the time I did not cry at all. It was only after my family were all at home safely that I cried when I was holding onto my son.
C: I am like that too! You have seen me cry once and that was when my mother was admitted into casualty very suddenly.
V: You were still very calm that time and after a busy period, you went back to work.
C: I even had to go and receive an award after that!
Cherishing Family Time
C: I know you love your two sons dearly, no matter how busy you are, you will still take them to school yourself?
V: From their first day at school, I have done this and it is harder now because my elder son is at secondary school and in the past I could get up at half past seven but now I have to wake up at half past six. I will first make their lunch boxes and then at 7am, I will wake my husband and sons and then get myself ready. At 8am, I will drive my sons to work and then go to work. Sometimes if I am too busy, I will ask my driver to drive but I will be in the car with them because I cherish the time I have with them. My younger son prefers me to drive him because I have a two-door car and he can sit in the front passenger seat and feel cool, so if I am able to, then I will drive him myself. I am very dedicated and this is my good point.
C: You have so little time to sleep, similar to me?
V: I usually return home past midnight, then I will check their homework and then sleep at about 1am. Usually I will sleep for about five hours a day.
C: How do you keep your skin and appearance so good?
V: Your skin and appearance are good. I am actually quite weary because I have to go to early meetings and once, I had ten meetings in a row, with problems that had to be resolved immediately. (Is the pressure immense?) I believe that working in Hong Kong, everyone has pressure. Relief? Sometimes you will take me for dinner and have a chat and this is already a way of relaxing, so you should invite me out more for dinner or even to watch a concert, where I can learn something and relax at the same time. I feel that if you can work in this industry and bear the hardship, then you have to really love your work and this will reduce the stress.
C: Why did you not choose to be the happy housewife?
V: I think that if I became a housewife, I would do a lot of things, especially for the parents committee. I remember the day before I gave birth to my younger son, I was at work and then as soon as I opened my eyes after giving birth, my secretary was there with a big pile of documents for me to sign. I feel that not only is working for TVB hard work, but if you are a responsible person, then it will be the same wherever you work.
C: Has your husband ever complained?
V: Before I returned to TVB, we had prepared for me to be very busy, so he has not complained. However, my son has and he will say to me: "You come back earlier tonight." I will try to spend Saturday and Sunday with them.
Ms Lok in Charmaine's eyes
Many people fear her, but I don't know why, I am not afraid at all! People who have never come into contact with her will be frightened by her power, but after you speak to her, you know that she is a very good woman, who cares for her family and loves her home as well as a beautiful mother. Her stamina is astounding and sometimes at 2 o'clock in the morning, she still has the energy to call me and discuss work! I once arranged to meet her at half past midnight and she was still working hard. If she was a man, I think she would be even more workaholic. She cares for all her artistes and will talk to us from the heart. Management now is much more open, so if anything happens, I will always go to her at the first opportunity."
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