When I was at uni, I gave up acting because no one cast me (in anything other than Outsider/Narrator/silent asian who didn’t emote) and various people who happened to be men told me I acted like a director, I was too sensitive to be an actor (I would be better suited to running a guest house in Borneo or looking after orphaned orang utans) or simply, that I wasn’t any good. I started a theatre company and produced and directed some incredible shows which sold out and broke a whole bunch of staging rules. Not bad for a little Chinese girl pretty fresh off the boat, who didn’t know anyone who was in any sort of arts, who didn’t know how to audition, who didn’t know not to get into cars with strange men. But I didn’t direct myself in anything.
Post uni, after I spent some time with a bunch of thesps on tour in Asia – I had been cast as an Outsider with no feelings in a Shakespeare ting – horrified at how disrespectful they were to the Asian theatre staff and our hosts, I thought, I cannot be aiming to spend more time with people like this. I didn’t.
Post post uni, I saw an ad. A last minute casting due to illness of the lead actress, for a Pinter two hander. Directed by someone outside of the small bubble of uni life. I don’t know how I did it, but I learned more lines than I had ever done and smashed the shit out of that gig.
I couldn’t afford to go to drama school. I couldn’t even stay in the country. Bloody immigrant woes. Somehow, I stayed put in the terrifically terrible relationship I was in at the time and didn’t take up the small scholarship I won to go to a small drama school in London because I was too afraid to move to London. And my partner at the time said that I didn’t have what it took anyway.