On why I am an actress

I am stoned out of my skull.

Yesterday, I put myself through something worse than the time I had a job packing brochures into envelopes.

I spent an entire day reading 10 episodes of a Chinese drama script.

Chinese! Aaaaah!!

Each episode is about 65 pages, so that’s 650 freaking pages of Chinese text I made myself read in one day.

My head is still swimming from squiggle overload.

And I have about a thousand pages more to go.

(On a side note, though, I found the plot really intriguing. That’s why I couldn’t stop reading until about two in the morning, despite the difficulty of reading Chinese and the nausea from reading nonstop an entire day.)

This is what a typical page looks like. I’ve shrunk and blurred it so you can’t read the words, haha (assuming you can read Chinese). Scripts are confidential lah.

Anyway.

This is in preparation for an upcoming drama series. I don’t have a huge role. It’s a 25-episode drama and, out of the roughly 1600 pages, my involvement is only about 50 pages’ worth.

But it’s an important enough role for me to want to read the entire script, although I don’t really have to, since my character is only involved in one small sub-plot.

I don’t know what the industry norm is, but I personally like to read the entire script whether my role is big or small. Even if it means having to struggle through 1600 pages of Chinese text.

I like going on set feeling familiar with the environment, story and characters, and knowing what’s going on every step of the way.

Because of the way I get involved in stories, I like big roles.

Small roles depress me because they are one-dimensional and don’t give me a sense of ownership in the creation process. It’s like being invited to a party where you are only allowed to sit in the courtyard and watch the activities in the house through the window. You’re there but you’re not really part of it.

One of the big reasons I so love being an actress is because I love stories, whether in books or the movies. I get personally involved with the main characters in the story so much so that I want to BE them, step in their shoes, live their lives, share their triumphs, taste their disappointments.

Getting a big role is a chance to satisfy this deep yearning I’ve felt since I was a child.

Even when I get a small role, I try to get involved by reading the entire script (if I’m given it) and imagining an untold story for my character. But because I do not get to act out my imaginary story, I will go to the shoot, do my job and then go home and get depressed because the party is over for me.

In contrast, the sense of fulfillment I get from playing leading characters gives me a high which doesn’t go away for weeks.

This is the high I live for. This is the high that I suffer through countless auditions and humiliating small roles for. It’s a gamble because I can never be sure where I will end up. I get depressed whenever I imagine that my payout never comes. But I am still compelled to take the gamble.

That’s why, I think, I will be an actress till the day I die.