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Friday, February 17, 2006

Kenneth Ma Speaks About His Career

Among TVB's promoted artists for 2006, Kenneth Ma Kwok Ming's name appears on the list. Approaching 32 years old, popularity and fame is within reach.

Kenneth entered the industry at 24 years old. At 30, he signed a management contract with TVB. Many steps were taken slower than most artists. Although Kenneth's age is a bit older, but his advantage is maturity. "During training class, my classmates were mostly 17-18 years old, fresh out of high school. They were all very good looking, but after 1 year of playing extras, many have left the industry."

Kenneth is willing to wait. He has played as an extra alongside Dayo Wong Tsi Wah. Kenneth has played corpses many times during shooting. "When I played those scenes until 4 AM in the morning, that was the most tiring."

Since Kenneth is so honest and direct, to gain greater popularity, he must work a lot harder. Kenneth said his objective is Hui Siu Hung, who is still acting in his fifties. Since Kenneth is only in his thirties, maybe his objective is too...far into the future?

After graduating from University of British Columbia with an engineering degree, Kenneth's first job was working in a glass manufacturing company for 9 months, in charge of quality surveillance.

"I had to wear a tie to work everyday. I had to wear goggles and inspect the site's progress. I had to carry the building's architectural plans and walk 10+ floors to oversee the progress. My first job was very dull and tiring."

Kenneth is afraid of boredom, but he is a boring person. His father was a Mechanical Engineer and worked at a coal gas company. When Kenneth entered university, he chose to major in Mechanical Engineering because he saw that his father's job presented a stable income. Kenneth said, "I am very good at solving math problems. I wanted to find a job where I can do computer design in an office. But at my first job, I had to manage a large number of construction workers."

Kenneth graduated from University of British Columbia in 1998 and returned to Hong Kong to look for work. But at the time, HK was in financial crisis. Although Kenneth sent out 80 inquiry letters looking for a job, he did not hear back from most of them. "Most of the engineering work has moved to mainland China. So it was very hard to find an engineering job in Hong Kong. The large companies were not hiring. I sent inquiry letters to the train authorities, the airport, etc, but I did not even get any interviews."

Kenneth did get response from TVB. Kenneth's mother knew that he liked to act, so she signed him up for the training class. Although Kenneth is a shy person, but he will take on a different personality when acting. When he entered TVB, he sacrificed his engineering job with a monthly salary of $10,000+ (HKD). At TVB, his initial earnings were only one-third of his engineering job.

Standing at 6 feet tall, Kenneth said he does not have a girlfriend. "I don't like to express myself. But I like to act."

Kenneth played extras for 3 years, often playing corpses in battlefield scenes. When Dayo Wong had to shoot a music video for his theme song 'War of the Genders,' Kenneth had to put on a roach suit to play 'Siu Keung.' Kenneth said it was quite fun.

The first series that Kenneth had spoken lines was in 'Loving You.' Kenneth played the part of a gigolo. Kenneth was very excited and spent a lot of time preparing for the role. In 'At the Threshold of an Era,' he played one of Gallen Lo Ka Leung's posse. In one scene, Kenneth had to report the stock prices and no matter how he tried, he could not remember the dialogue, resulting in 30 NG's. "I saw that Gallen had many eyebags resulting from several nights of no rest due to continuous filming. I prevented the crew from wrapping up early; I was very anxious."

S4 Days
After 'Triumph In the Skies,' Kenneth was promoted as one of the members of S4 alongside and Ron Ng, Bosco Wong, and Sammul Chan. But Kenneth said, "Actually TVB was really intending to promote Ron Ng; I was used to only make up the 4th member. S4 was a good way to promote some new actors. At the time, I was the only one without a management contract, so I had less opportunities."

When Kenneth was filming 'My Master Is Wong Fei Hung,' and 'Lost In The Chamber of Love,' Kenneth only had a training contract under TVB. It wasn't until 'Scavenger's Paradise' that Kenneth signed a management cotnract.

"It wasn't until this year that my salary has gotten closer to what I was earning at my first job. I try very hard to save money, by taking the train, bus, etc. I only like to play soccer, so I don't waste a lot of money."

Although Kenneth is past 30, he is still living with his parents. Kenneth is grateful for the freedom his parents gave him, not forcing him to bring more money home. "Compared to my classmates, I have been very lucky. Many of them are still under a training contract."

Ever since his early school days, Kenneth has been a big soccer fan and one of his greatest skills is playing soccer. "I didn't stand out in school, but my gym teacher always remembered me."

"During lunch time at the cafeteria in high school, there were often many pretty girls gathered together. They were all long-haired and classic beauties. I don't know how it happened, but I started dating." Kenneth's first relationship only lasted 3 months. His ex-girlfriend had to attend college in Toronto, so they separated after a brief romance.

For college, Kenneth attended University of British Columbia and in his mechanical engineering classes, there were very few girls. He did not meet any suitable types and did not date anyone during college. A traditional personality like Kenneth's, would women find him to be secure or boring? While in Canada during college, Kenneth joined the Chinatown soccer team and played games there.

Will Not Consider Dating Margie Tsang Wah Sin
After entering the entertainment industry, Kenneth's sole interest is still soccer. "Each week I play about 6 games. I have joined many different teams, such as a team from my training class days, a soccer team made up of TVB production workers, HK Celebrity team etc."

The TVB Artist Supervisor that came to the interview with Kenneth commented, "Of course Kenneth doesn't have a girlfriend. Do you expect women to always attend your soccer games and watch you on the bench?"

Kenneth said, "I really want to date. I have wanted to do so for several years." Earlier, Kenneth was in close contact with Margie Tsang Wah Sin, resulting in rumors of their 9-year-age-difference romance. "Margie and I are good friends that can talk about anything. Sometimes we talk about work, sometimes personal matters, sometimes gossip. We go out for dinner or drinks, it's not a big deal."

"Actually I get along quite well with other female actresses. Age differences and gender are not important in friendship. For example, I also get along with Helena Tam Siu Wan and Louisa So Yuk Wah. When I see Louisa at the studio, I will always chat with her."

Will Kenneth consider dating Margie? "I will not consider it. Since the media has twisted our relationship in such ways, I don't want the rumors to affect Margie negatively. Right now, our frequency in meeting has become less."

Kenneth said he is not against dating a woman older than him. The most important thing is that they are compatible. But Kenneth doesn't like women who are too young, as he doesn't know how to sugar-coat his words to please them. His ideal girlfriend would be between the ages of 25-30.

Wooden
Some people say that Kenneth is very wooden. But during our 3 hour interview, Kenneth showed his humorous side.

1. Kenneth was once a member of Leslie Cheung Kwok Wing's Fan Club. Since Kenneth's mother is a loyal Leslie fan, both mother and son joined the club together. "Because my mother likes Leslie so much, her English name is 'Monica.'"

2. Since he was 9 years old, Kenneth has liked Daffy Duck. In his bedroom, Kenneth still has his old toys of Daffy Duck. "I don't like Mickey Mouse because I think he is very fake, always smiling at everyone. In real life, people are not like that. But Daffy Duck is more real, he likes money and is hot-blooded. If I were to act as Daffy, it would be much more interesting than playing Mickey."

From cartoon characters, the conversation has turned back to acting again. Kenneth said his favorite series to date is 'Scavenger's Paradise'. Although Kenneth feels that his character in the series was a little boastful, but being boastful is better than being wooden, at least he will leave a lasting impression in the audience's mind.



[X] credit: Jayne @ http://jaynestars.com/
Mingpao Magazine #1943

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