Home > Living > People > Q&A: Running the rat race, Lawrence Wong shares the importance to pause and live in the now
Q&A: Running the rat race, Lawrence Wong shares the importance to pause and live in the now

Lawrence Wong is not afraid of taking the extra mile to achieve what he has set to achieve. “There is no shortcut to winning — whether it is in the comforts of the local industry in South East Asia or the ruthless competition in China,” he confides.

The Malaysian-born actor who was in town for Levi’s Chinese New Year 2020 campaign — his second collaboration with the denim brand — takes audiences on a real-life journey of his daily pursuit. The campaign themed “This Year, Win Your Way” chronicles Wong’s success as an established artiste who embraces optimism, hard work and persistence by staying true to his authentic self and stay grounded in his roots.

But for the boy-next-door actor, his competitive spirit is what drives him to improve and perfect his craft — from his breakthrough role in the megabit Chinese epic drama, Story of Yanxi Palace to his latest lead roles in two upcoming Chinese TV dramas set to release end of 2019 and early 2020. And Wong is not showing any signs of stopping as he runs the rat race into 2020 with even more exciting plans for his career and his supportive fans.

We sat down with the youthful actor on the importance to find the perfect balance in his hectic lifestyle and how he plans to achieve his goals in this brand new year.

“When it comes to work, I’m hardworking and responsible but actually I’m super chill by nature.” 

You’re a hustler and you’ve not stopped since your big breakthrough with the Story of Yanxi Palace. How would you describe your decade-long career so far?

Everyone thinks that Story of Yanxi Palace was my big breakthrough — well it is — but throughout my career, I celebrate the little milestones that I considered breakthroughs in my career as well. For instance, my first nomination for the Asian Television Award, or getting my first lead role in Malaysia and Singapore. These are successes that I never take for granted because I am where I am today thanks to them.

So patience is the keyword here?

Yes. In life or in work, being anxious doesn’t take you anywhere — be patient and let things come your way while you do you; be the best at what you do. Don’t be too hard on yourself.

How do you hone your artistry as an actor?

Simply by living life, you get to improve your craft tremendously. As actors, you are inspired by the lives of others and impact many people through your acting. Through observation, you are also able to keep yourself on your toes in delivering a dedicated message to your audience. Keep absorbing and learn from things you see and study the minutest details around you. It is like how French actors are so good with their romance — look into those aspects and keep improving, especially if the roles require a specific way of playing the character.

Wong, decked in pieces from Levi’s Chinese New Year 2020 collection.
How do you respond to challenges?

(Chuckles) Challenges no matter big or small don’t bother me at all. Everyday is a challenge and you just got to overcome it. I’m a Leo — I charge head on with a positive and open mind.

Do you have any resolutions for 2020?

I never set resolutions. It doesn’t work for me. I’m not really a goal setter but what I do is set a direction that I want to head to and I let it flow naturally while working on what I have at hand. You can call me a hustler with a fine balance of being a strict planner and having a carefree spirit.

Many people forget to take care when they are busy with work — why is it important for you to ensure that you’re mindful about your overall wellbeing?

It is very important — without a good state of mind and health, you cannot achieve your goals and dreams. It is not just taking care of yourself physically, but sometimes go out there and pamper yourself a little bit. Have some ice cream, why not? Your mental health shapes your physical health and it tells on the way you look. 

I believe in a Chinese saying that goes: “Your mind can grow a lot of illnesses.”
Have you overworked yourself?

Of course, I always do! When it’s time to work, you work. But when it comes to rest, you must remember to rest properly.

Why is it important to ‘switch off’?

I think it important to switch off throughout the little moments in life. Sometimes while shooting halfway, I see a bubble tea shop — I just go and get myself a cup to please myself a little bit. It keeps you going even though my schedule can be quite nightmarish most of the time.

Besides acting, what are the things that you’d intend to accomplish this year?

There are so many things that I want to do — let me assure you, it is a very long list. I love and perhaps want to do something related to interior design. I love animals, learn a new language and maybe travel. I’d say my next destinations are Greece, Tibet and Antartica. I also have a habit of buying a lot of books — so I intend to get on with reading them soon. I believe there are many things you just have to go out there, explore and experience.

What's your advice for those who are busy chasing dreams and goals?

Appreciate the little things in life, and find those tiny time pockets to enjoy the smallest moments. During my full day shoot with Levi’s, I was so tired halfway through that I hid myself in the changing room, taking some time off to watch videos of my cats before I continued. It feels like I’m getting a boost of energy from pausing for just a few minutes.

Be aware of your own emotions. Be in tune with your body and mind — do what you need to do to keep yourself calm always. People ask me, what do you want in life? I want a peaceful mind because it is really something that will grow into greater things.

Martin Teo
Martin has a bent for history and food culture, especially of the Peranakan heritage. Since the pandemic, he finds joy in plant parenting and continues to expand his collection of Philodendrons, Anthuriums, and Syngoniums. He's now on a lookout for the elusive Philodendron Florida Beauty to add to his urban garden.