When Crazy Rich Asians came out in 2018, the world was taken by a storm. As the first modern Hollywood film in 25 years to feature an all-Asian cast, it's no wonder it garnered a cult following even before its release and quickly won the hearts of audiences globally for its charismatic charm and positive representation. Victoria Loke, who plays Fiona Cheng in the film, is a Singapore native but spent her education years in the Big Apple where she landed gigs in independent short films and modelling. Away from the silver screen, Loke engages in activism projects from her collaborative #AsianGirls art series which aims to challenge Western hyper-sexualisation of Eastern women to working with the Singapore Committee for UN Women, which centres around gender equality. She speaks English, French, Mandarin and Japanese, and even learned Cantonese for her role in Un vase à Chinatown. Crazy Rich Asians was her big debut and it's been a rollercoaster ever since. Loke shares with us her top tips for aspiring actors:
This article is also available to read in Chinese (HK).
1) Practice empathy
Personally, I have always felt this to be the foundation of what it means to be a good actor: to be able to truly and thoroughly empathise with those around you so that you can do the same when you meet your character on paper. In our world today it’s very common to just dismiss someone simply because they have a different opinion than us or come from a different background, but I believe it’s our duty to take the time to understand all perspectives, not just our own. At the end of the day, I think it’s difficult to be an actor without having some understanding of the human condition.
2) Experience the world (which also means watching a lot of movies!)
Not saying this just because I love curling up in bed with Netflix on, but to me, taking the time every day to watch good movies and TV shows is also a part of the job. And this also includes going to galleries and taking in the art, watching performances at the theatre, listening to diverse genres of music, and reading up on history at a museum. I like to use the term, “eating your cultural vegetables”.
3) Never stop working on your craft
There’s a bit of a tendency to think we can “learn on the job”, but I find it most helpful to keep the engine well-oiled at all times because there’s always something we can improve on. In my free time, I like finding scenes from films that I love and recording myself practising them, then looking over the recordings and seeing what I need to work on. Sometimes I even send them to my close friends to ask them for constructive feedback.
4) Learn to collaborate
One of my favourite things about acting is working closely with my director and costars to bring a story to life together. To me, the miracle of making a film or staging a play is that so many people and so many factors managed to click into place together at just the right moment, and it’s a magical feeling to be a part of that. I find that really getting to know the rest of the cast and crew, and having deep conversations with the director and writers about their vision is such an important part of the experience.
5) Meditate, meditate, meditate
The final thing I would say that has been crucial to my own experience as an actor would be developing a mindfulness practice – particularly learning to meditate. Not only does it physically help me maintain a connection with my body, which allows me to pay closer attention to movement, but it also teaches me to calm my nerves in stressful situations like auditions, or if production has run over time and I only have one take to nail a scene because the location team needs production to wrap and leave NOW (happens more often than you’d think!).