A Close-Up VIEW of BYRON PANG, leading actor from AMPHETAMINE.
He’s a rookie Hong Kong Actor, fresh from his much talked about controversial role in the gay-genre film AMPHETAMINE.
He’s also the latest pin-up boy with the cheeky, cherubic smile.
His name is BYRON PANG.
Watch this name, if you must.
And if you can unearth the outer layers, you’ll find that this bold actor is brimming with undeveloped potential inside.
He runs a gamut of expressions and is gesticulative.
“You can say I am an unpolished jade with a complex persona.
I’m emotional, a draw between a devil or angel, depending on my mood swings,” he says softly. ” I am presently in my mid-20s.”
But he does look a lot younger.
On screen, the pretty-boy image fits him like a glove. Yet he aspires to play the misfit.
He seeks greater challenges in acting roles.
I like to walk the line, he enthuses.
For sure, he has the smoldering look to pass off as a Korean or Japanese idol.
I am proud to be Chinese, he muses.
He has the gift of conversing in perfect Mandarin with a trace of the Taiwanese accent that is ultra perfecto.
I love martial arts, swimming, scuba diving, horse riding and and any form of active sports, he asserts.
I love singing too, he trails off.
For a fact, he’s hot.
He has self-assuring imploring, impish eyes
and a ready smile that can melt the heart of any gal.
Or guy for that matter.
“I am throwing out any emotional baggage that is toxic,
re-inventing myself and my image from now on,” he points out.
“I am leaving the past behind. Life just has to move on.”
For a fact, he has changed his Chinese characters to read "彭罡原"
denoting a dragon in hibernation now rising to an explosive form of renewed energy.
He is still BYRON PANG in English context though.
“You are one of the first few to know,” he jests.
Here’s looking at you, dude!
THE “CLOSE-UP” INTERVIEW
Byron, why did you change your Chinese name to "彭罡原"?
Is it a need for image re-invention? A new career headstart?
Yes, you can say it’s a brand new beginning. The last two years had been pretty rough and tough. There were latent family and personal problems that I have to deal with. I could not focus on my acting career. I neglected it. I was stressed, but life now has to move on.
Yes, pretty much so. To the extent that I almost headed for a mild depression. But everything’s perfectly normal now. I am leaving the past behind. I am now like a battery recharged. I am renewed,eager to face a new future.
You speak impeccable Mandarin, with a tinge of Taiwanese accent. Where did you pick this up?
Both of my parents are from mainland China. I was born and raised in Hong Kong. I learn my fluent Mandarin from my parents. I watch a lot of Taiwan dramas. I also speak Cantonese and English, of course.
What is your astrological sign?
I am a LIBRA. I am strong-willed and fiercely independent.
What have you done so far in terms of acting?
I performed a slew of TVB Cantonese dramas, none of which I am proud of. I played a cameo in the recent STORM RIDERS 2 and a lead role in the controversial AMPHETAMINE. I can still be considered as a rookie in the entertainment industry.
Tell me more about AMPHETAMINE the movie?
It’s a real difficult role. It’s kind of a demon-and-angel type. I have to run a gamut of raw emotions ranging from intense anger, rage, pain, contentment and sorrow. I played this guy who has finally discovered, an unexpected love that was doomed from the start. That is the sad character of KAFKA, a drug-addictive fallen angel. It’s perplexing to “psyche” myself for the role, as KAFKA even gets to be gang-raped in the movie. It’s my best role to date, a big challenge. I am proud of it. I give it my all.
What made you do a gay-genre movie?
And why not? I am a professional actor. I will never reject a good script.
You have no qualms about the full-frontal nudity in key scenes?
Never. As long as the script instructs and as long as I have accepted the part, nothing will ever deter me, ever. I welcome challenges. I’ll believe in art. I will sacrifice for art’s sake. But only with an excellent film director and director-of-photography.
Your co-actor is Thomas Price. How do you find working with him and sharing intimate scenes?
Things are cool and professional between us. Off screen, Thomas is a fun guy to be with.
What about Scud, the film director and screen writer?
Scud is my mentor. He took a gamble to cast me in the role of KAFKA. I have to thank him profusely for his trust in my acting ability to pull off this complex character of KAFKA. It had been a good collaboration.
You gotten some bad press in the past. Can you elaborate on this?
The Hong Kong paparazzi is notorious for digging dirt to sell their publications. There’s nothing I can really do. As an actor, I have to deal with news, regardless of good or bad. I have to take things in one stride, to be professional. Bad news is better than nothing, right? (grins)
Do you have a lot of good friends in the entertainment industry?
Some, not many. Here you are swimming with the sharks. You tend to have more competitors than real friends. The film industry is fraught with fellow hypocrites more than anywhere else. Almost everyone is wearing a mask, adopting a facade of sorts. Never really believe what you hear sometimes.
Have you ever been passed up for any role before?
I am sure all artistes face this predicament. It happened to me a few times. It’s an actor’s lot. You win some, you lose some. You get to know that, in the entertainment scene, it is not what you know, but who you really know that gets you where you are.
What is your next project?
It’s a Taiwanese musical feature called ROCK ON!
Do you believe in love and sex in a relationship?
Yes, very much so. Sex is great, but only if there’s a relationship. Nothing exists happily without a relationship. It is of supreme importance.
What is love in your point of view?
To love, respect and take care of your better half, no matter what you do or how tough the going is.
So you believe in the power of love?
Don’t you? What’s the use of all the money in the world if there’s NO real love? I am scared of this element called loneliness, to be alone to face my existence within the four walls. For sure, money cannot buy love. No way! (shrugs).
What is your motto in life?
Striving to be an honest and likable person at all times, knowing that this is a tall order. There are no perfections in this world. Treasure friends and loved ones who are here for you now, but may not be around the next time.
I hear that you are really good at Martial Arts?
Yes, I spent a good number of years learning WUSHU. I discover personal and spiritual growth though this form of martial arts. It is like the cleansing and re-awakening of my soul.
Can you describe yourself in 3 little words?
Loyal, straightforward and down-to-earth.
What else would you like to say to conclude this interview?
There are special friends out there who have helped me along my journey of learnings. A big THANK YOU to you all.
- END of INTERVIEW –
It’s insightful talking to BYRON PANG.
He’s candid about life, career and friends.
He believes in life and loving, a love without limits, a life without fears.
There’s a better tomorrow if we seek it, if we redeem ourselves.
And that is exactly what he is going to do.
“I am going to put the past behind,” he concluded. “From now
The slogan may have screamed “WHO’S SALT?” but it ain’t a condiment in any cooking show.
EVELYN SALT is ANGELINA JOLIE’s screen persona as she bulldozes her way with her hard fists, steely sprints, flying kicks, gigantic leaps and ferocious karate chops to flee from virtually, every law enforcement, in a desperate race against time to prevent the assassination of the Russian President ….. (or to aid in the murder?)
Time is not on her side …..
She is this titular CIA operative who’s unfortunatley being framed as a Russian spy and is on the run.
Faster, JOLIE, faster!
Despite the tussles and the hustles, JOLIE still looks none the worse for wear-and-tear and ends up appearing absolutely stunning and gorgeous (first as a blonde CIA agent and thence brunette as escapee) in full make-up and hair in an impeccable order.
Now, that’s really something!
What can we say about this ravishing beauty with the thick pouting lips and husky voice?
She’s the MICHELLE YEOH of the West.
She acts, she fights and she delivers the fiery action with aplomb.
All at once she is packaging an assortment of roles of the JOLINE heroines from her previous movies, LARA CROFT to MRS. SMITH to WANTED’s FOX.
Therefore this has to be an elegant stylish thriller.
Back to the story.
All EVELYN SALT ever wanted is a cushy desk bound job in the CIA, so that she can find worthwhile time for a decent family life and a loving husband to return home to.
But she has her tables precariously turned on her when an old Russian defector reveals that Russian nationals are infiltrating the CIA agencies, and that SALT is a spy sent by Moscow to assassinate the US President.
WHO IS SALT, really?
Is SALT really working for the Russians? Americans? or Scientologists?
She beats a fast beat and is pursued by the CIA, FBI, Secret Service and the Russians
Director PHILLIP NOYCE’s convoluted political thriller has JOLIE in a mesmerizing action role braving loads of gunfire, hand-to-hand combats and brutal stunts.
SALT is a mind-boggling and provocative movie with a tight script mastered by KURT WIMMER.
Deeply intense, full of twists and turns, it is spawned with “red herrings” and is a “guess-who-am-I” stand-out feature with ANGELINA JOLIE helming the cast.
It’s been reported that the SALT character was originally written as EDWIN SALT for TOM CRUISE who backed out at the eleventh hour due to filming conflicts and other personal reasons.
Thereupon producers and writers rushed to re-adjust the script to “fit in” JOLIE for the role.
And a refreshing change as that, thank goodness!
ANGELINE JOLIE brings an authentic “touch of spring” to the fierce commanding screen performance that is required of the SALT character.
She addresses this slick mystery thriller with a good amount of elegance and sophistication.
The ending scene, when the camera pans afar across the SALT character as she is washed ashore from the sea of peril … and she’s heading for an unknown destination, suggests to us that there is this possible sequel in the making.
Now, whether this tiny morsel of news holds weight, it’s everybody’s intellectual guess.
Netizens are currently deluged with screaming headlines that the STARS ain’t shining that brightly at the Singapore MEDIA CORP studios.
Not when some of the principal artistes from the stronghold are quitting hastily in droves, back-to-back, in an unanticipated queue.
Things always happen for apparent reasons.
Let us talk about the so-called 7 princesses.
3 of them are leaving, or have vanquished the nest, namely FIONA XIE, DAWN YEOH, JESSICA LIU and speculations are rife that FELICIA CHIN will soon follow suit.
NAT HO, JOSHUA ANG, (the charming boys-next-door) and thespian ADRIAN PANG would have left by now, from the “glittering” film factory.
So what’s happening?
Just a dearth of good scripts?
They are like birds fluttering away hurriedly from a cold winter, looking for warmer weather.
The exodus of principal talents all-in-a-row is the first time ever, as any outsider can comprehend.
Of course everyone craves for security with a caring employer, one who appreciates our work performances, when we have done our best.
What price security?
FIONA XIE made an exceptional claim that she earned SGD 500,000 annually (of course Miss XIE should also mention that this amount should factually include her collective product endorsements for her best years), that she has found love in a rich boyfriend in Hong Kong, and that she is giving everything up for love and “peace of mind”.
“What is the point of being in a place that brings out the worst in you?” was her bold departing statement.
This spells out a thousand woes for the remaining surviving artistes in the Singapore film factory, as nobody can be that fortunate to find viable alternatives.
On the other hand, veteran actress HUANG BIREN was reasonably pissed when she quitted two years ago over her new salary package. She was delivered with an unkind pay cut in her contract renewal, sans leave, sans compensations, sans CPF.
It’s like telling you that in the acting profession, as your age piles on, your value drops.
Can things really be that bad?
We are well aware that “stuff” floating in cyberspace may NOT necessarily be true.
But as an artiste, not everyday is a bed of roses.
You can hang on to that pedestal, beaming and posing with your accolade.
Doomsday may arrive sooner than you think, when your sweet smile becomes a smirk and you will be rudely shoved off to make way for another emerging spring chicken.
Dispense disbelief, maybe.
Well then, if there’s no smoke, you can discount the fire.
This is show business, with a stark reality that tells you that there are no promises of long term adulation.
This is land of “facades”, with one artiste hugging and congratulating another on an award win, and then cursing himself for not being the actual winner.
When you are the victor, all your sunshine friends and the media will surface, milling around you, wanting a piece of the action.
This is to say that you are newsworthy.
When you become the loser, woe betide you as you can start to count your true friends at your fingertips. So there!
And if you have a chicken heart, back out.
This cruel arena is not for you.
Let’s say, you have this ocean bed, sprawling with oysters, waiting for your pick.
Pearls are for the employer to nurture and cultivate.
Properly treated, they will sparkle.
Now, are you ready to walk the red carpet?
WHAT WE MAY NOT KNOW
The Singapore MediaCorp studios have certainly come a long way, since 1980 when it was earlier known as plain old Singapore Broadcasting Station (SBC).
Advancing technologies and emerging trends …. each brings with it new information that is added, or modifies the old impression.
In the 1980s, the Station’s artistes were notably ex-firemen, factory workers, insurance agents and flight attendants. They are mostly Chinese educated, receiving at best, the GCE ‘O’ level education.
The English mainstream deemed these actors as AH BENGs and AH LIANs, a less than disdainful term for groups from a “different” class, those with a less fashionionable mentality.
You can bet your last dollar that a true-blue graduate would never consider a career in acting during those days!
It was only when fashion icons ZOE TAY and FANN WONG joined the stronghold in the 90s that we see a re-positioning of the Station.
They brought about a change in consumer perception.
Suddenly, branded products who once turned a deaf ear to sponsorships were re- adjusting their mindsets.
Even fashion gurus like DAVID GAN and JEREMY TAN had a change of hearts and were more than eager to lend a hand at reshaping the industry.
The emergence of these “brands” had brought about this elusive element called GLAMOR and has then taken the film factory to new heights.
On the other side of the fence, if you ever sat on an employer’s hot seat before, you will probably know that the economic ride can be bumpy, and the “feel” is never cushy.
As an ace production company, you’d have thousands of mouths to feed.
ACTING is also a business, albeit a volatile one, and you have to keep those numbers healthy, and stay out of the red.
This is not Hollywood with the mega bucks and the SINGAPORE celluloid market, unlike Hong Kong and Taiwan, is still in its infancy stage.
Yet the financial cost of producing a television drama in SINGAPORE is at least double that of MALAYSIA’s and THAILAND’s.
And of the returns?
With a bit of geographical common sense, let’s make a quick calculation:
THAILAND has a population of 61.5 million, of this 10 million are residing in Bangkok.
MALAYSIA’s population comes close to 28.9 million in 2010.
SINGAPORE? Well, it is 5 million.
Yet any visitor to Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore who may have sat through a drama serial in each of the countries would have deduced the difference in the number and quality of the TVCs during commercial breaks.
Researching on available statistics, the quantity and quality of TVCs aired during prime time in SINGAPORE would pale in comparison with those of the neighboring countries.
Plus, nobody would classify the SINGAPORE drama as ” hot property “. Not every country in ASIA is eager to grab a piece of this pie, unlike the TVB drama series which are widely available in Chinatowns worldwide.
Of late the mainland CHINA dramas have uncovered new Asian markets and the TAIWANESE cinema is currently undergoing a new revival.
MALAYSIA is clearly the chief supporter of the made-in-SINGAPORE dramas, with help from BRUNEI, VIETNAM, CAMBODIA and to a questionable degree, CHINA.
The recent top-rated drama series THE LITTLE NONYA has fascinated and captured foreign markets but the future remains yet to be seen if the succeeding dramas can live up to viewers’ expectations.
So far, none of the recent dramas have dogged close to the heels of the predecessor.
Well, not yet.
The SINGAPORE artistes are still whetting their appetites to be “discovered” and “accepted” by the ASIAN markets.
Homegrown glitterati such as ZOE TAY, JOANNE PEH or CHEN HAN WEI who may be able give the TAIWAN and HONG KONG artistes a run for their money, are virtually unheard of in those countries.
Well, it’s more than 3 decades down the road and it boils down probably, yes, probably, to the fact that the marketing geniuses would have to exercise more than the usual prudence, prowess and efforts in terms of aggressive and focused overseas marketing.
Of course, it may be easier said than done.
Curtailing and suppressing established “brands” and “nurturing” new ones does not seem to be a viable solution as anyone can see.
Signing on artistes from TAIWAN and CHINA to establish a connection to new markets may or not work, as the sincerity of the employer can be attested in the long run.
The lot of an artiste is tough.
The hours are terribly long with little or no rest in between when you are working on back-to-back dramas.
The pay package differs widely from artiste to artiste and when the time comes for contractual renewal, you will be judged from market perception and the number of hours you pack in.
Is there a stark differential gear between the old and new schools of thought?
These days you have this young, ambitious and restless group classified as the star-struck GEN-Y who are eager to hop on board the ever-competitive stable of artistes.
These are the new generation actors who see acting as a stepping stone, and are not afraid to speak up, should the going gets rough.
And these are the “doves” who would flutter from their nests, looking for new horizons when “winter” beckons.
Life imitating art?
Truth is stranger than fiction?
Well, something’s gotta give.
Doves flee in droves for a singular reason: SECURITY and VISIBILITY.