Hong Kong is a place brimming with talented and intriguing people. In our weekly 27 Questions column, we get up close and personal with the city’s notable personalities, learning about their whims and aversions, pivotal life moments, and hopes and dreams — all in roughly the duration of a casual speed date. This week, we speak to Christy Lai, actress, model and founder of Sugar Please Bakery House.
Christy Lai would love to be the villain. Not in the real world, mind you, but on the screen — just one of the avenues where the actress and model has been practicing her craft since she was 20 years old.
Over the course of her career, she’s played a strong young mother battling cancer, she’s played the heartbreaker — kind of a villain, I guess? — in Hong Kong West Side Stories, she’d love to work with the legendary Michelle Yeoh someday and lately, she’s been starring as herself in Hong Kong Open TV’s 《夠鐘食晏2》, where Lai and co-star Douglas Yim eat and drink their way through all the delicious things the fragrant harbour has to offer.
But a full-on villain, Maleficent, queen of darkness-style role? Still on the bucket list. It’ll take a heckuva performance though, because in real life, she’s more akin to a Disney Princess. You know the type: Sweet and wholesome, a song in her heart (and on the karaoke queue), frequently surrounded by animals. And she injects that sweetness into her work at Sugar Please Bakery House, the Kwun Tong baking studio she opened in 2018 to fulfil a lifelong dream of baking for others.
“I started baking and cooking since a young age. It was kind of a ‘Lai tradition’ for us to cook and prepare afternoon tea during family gatherings. My cousin Nicole and I would bake banana muffins and make salads together in the kitchen. It was just so much fun. My passion started from that,” she says.
An animal lover — you can follow her poodle Blossom and golden retriever Rafa on Instagram — she extends her culinary talents to the animal kingdom through Power Ruff, where she whips up treats made of natural ingredients ranging from baked goods to yoghurt chicken ramen for our four-legged housemates.
She credits the inspiration for her many projects to the encouragement of family and friends, like her fellow Starz People model Inez Leong, who runs her own fitness center. “She is a tough one and we constantly learn from each other,” says Lai.
But whether she’s standing in front of a camera or an oven (or both), the common thread that binds her work is a simple one: making people happy. “It was always a goal of mine to bring people happiness,” says Lai. “I never get bored of my career as I get to meet new people and work on new projects every day.”
27 Questions: Christy Lai
Name: Christy Lai
Occupation: Artiste / Baker
1. What is your life motto?
“I am capable of achieving great things.”
2. Who is your role model?
My mother, who is more like my best friend, my sister and my business partner.
3. Are you a morning person or a night owl?
I must say I used to be a night owl, but now with my two fur babies, I am definitely a morning person. I find my mornings way more productive.
4. If you could only eat one thing for the rest of your life, what would it be?
100% ICE CREAM!
5. What is your biggest regret in life?
My biggest regret is not telling my grandpa “I love you” face to face when I still had the chance to.
6. What is the top destination on your bucket list?
Bali! There are so many cafes, resorts, spots that I would love to explore. I am a tropical girl, indeed.
7. How often do you prepare your own meals?
Twice per week. I love to dine out and try different restaurants all around Hong Kong.
8. What is your greatest fear?
I must say I am a challenge lover. I love to try out new things that I haven’t done before. However, cockroaches are my biggest fear! It is a fear that I am never going to overcome.
9. What is one movie everyone should see?
A Star Is Born. There are still so many more in my head.
10. What is your typical Sunday like?
I water my plants. I make my own coffee. I walk my dogs. I choose a random cafe to go. I watch a movie before bed.
11. Which moment in your life would you most like to relive?
The moment when I travelled to Western Australia for a TV show and had to skydive. It is still one of the best sceneries I have ever seen in my life. The feeling in that moment was quite surreal.
12. If you could live anywhere else in the world, where would it be?
The Maldives. I really hope it doesn’t sink!
13. What is your favourite scent in the whole world?
Baby powder. My to-go perfume is also the scent of baby powder. It soothes me everyday.
14. Are you a good cook? What is your best dish?
I think I’m kinda a good cook? My best dish is recreating the “Pepper Lunch”. My friends love it and I love it. It’s fun to recreate dishes that you thought you could only eat at restaurants.
15. Do you have a catch phrase?
“I can only deal with good vibes.”
16. Would you rather never be alone for a single moment, or be alone for the rest of your life? Why?
I can never be alone. I love people around me. However, I do realize that I had a big change in my social circle. It has become smaller and smaller. I treasure every single one of them. They make me stronger. We know each other really well that sometimes we understand each other without saying any words.
17. What is the last dream you remember waking up to?
Weirdly, I remember almost every dream. The most recent dream was me having a little pig around my house. The pig was really cute, by the way.
18. What would you do if you won the lottery?
I would definitely donate part of it to charitable animal organizations, as they really need our help. Then I would save some up for investments. Lastly, I would use the rest to buy another lottery ticket.
19. When did you feel that you ‘made it’?
November 2018. It was the month that I opened my first baking studio in Kwun Tong. I built my own pink kitchen. It has always been one of my biggest dreams.
20. What’s the best or worst career advice you’ve ever received?
The best: “You were born to be in this entertainment industry.” The worst: “You are a star who hasn’t been fully discovered yet.”
21. What energises you about your work?
I focus on the little things in my daily life. Even a small corner, a teacup or a cute kid can inspire me. My two fur babies definitely motivate me as well. I love my work in both the entertainment industry and my baking business. I always feel that it is the passion that matters. I will never feel bored of my work. I think that is really important for me to fall in love with my job. Cheesy, but true.
22. Start your life again at age 15 with all the knowledge you have now, or fast forward 10 years?
Definitely start again at age 15. I could have done better. I could have avoided my mistakes. However, this is life. I am happy to stay in the present and live with it.
23. What’s your favourite tradition?
Christmas is definitely one of my favourites. Christmas feasts, bakings, the one perfect photo under the mistletoe are all very important to me. This set of traditions brings everyone that I love together.
24. When was the last time you felt starstruck?
I had this feeling when I watched Hins Cheung’s concert two months ago. His singing skills and his effortless performance really impressed me.
25. If you could snap your fingers and fix one thing about the world, what would it be?
I would make ice cream calorie-free.
26. A genie gives you three wishes — what are they?
First wish, I want to meet my grandpa someday somewhere again. Second wish, I want everyone that I love to be healthy and happy. Third wish, fly me to Bali.
27. Your go-to coffee order?
Definitely Iced Americano.
Keep up with Christy Lai on Instagram here.