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UPDATE: 5 Aug 2011

Unfortunately, I have just been told by Men's Health that due to their new direction for content in their magazine and website - they have been forced to take down my article from their website. But no fear! Click HERE to read it

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WAMM Founder's 1st contribution to Men's Health online.
Read a candid article on the 'Life of a Malaysian Actor' featured on Men's Health Online

Here's a little excerpt : 
"Whenever someone asks me, “What do you do?” it’s never been a straightforward one-word answer for me. If I could just say, “I’m a lawyer” (I am actually a law graduate), I am convinced that my life would be much simpler." 


CALL TO ACTION! 

Are you a local Actor? Singer? Director? Writer? 

If you're involved in the Malaysian creative scene in any way - write to me. Give me your own personal, truthful view of how it is for you. The good, the bad and ugly. Keep it to 300 - 500 words though. :) 

Let's share and let's care. 

Write to me at michael@wearemalaysianmade.com with subject header MY STORY.

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Michael Chen as "Oli" in WHITE TRASH.
LIFE OF A MALAYSIAN ACTOR : Michael Chen 

Whenever someone asks me, “What do you do?” It’s never been a straightforward one-word answer for me. 

If I could just say, “I’m a lawyer” (I am actually a law graduate.)  I am convinced that my life would be much simpler. Immediately, people will understand and they will know where they stand with me. Things will then flow as they normally would. 

But with me, it’s always been,  “I’m an actor, singer-songwriter and I teach kickboxing.” And these would be on top of a day job. I have worked in Event Management, TV production, a Youth NGO and in Publishing. 

The usual response from the person asking me the question would be a slight hesitation followed by a look that says, ‘This guy has no idea what he wants to do with his life’ which would then be vocalized as, “Wow. (pause) That’s … different.” 

However, this is a common problem most people in the creative scene in Malaysia share. Only a very select and fortunate few can say they purely act, sing, dance, paint or write for a living. They are the minority of elite in a niche industry. There are plenty of established names in the scene who have to do other ‘seemingly unrelated’ or ‘sometimes directly related’ work on the side. 

This leads to the foremost dilemma for most Malaysian actors (not within the elite niche), ‘How to balance a safe paying career with the unsteady and unforgiving nature of being an actor?’ 

The usual answer, “You can’t.” There is no way to do that without compromising one or the other. An observation I can safely make of the creative industry is that one would have to find a day job that is directly related. That is why most actors become photographers, writers, directors, producers, talent scouts and agents etc. 

I consider myself lucky having picked up a skill like teaching kickboxing as a fitness regime at one of the best kickboxing workout gyms in KL, TNT Kickboxing in Sri Hartamas. Whenever I found myself in between day jobs and having to scrape by with the little money from performing (usually theatre), I could always fall back on kickboxing, which pays me enough for my essentials and even that little extra to enjoy myself. 

That being said, the general consensus is that the ‘kickboxing and performing’ are not as related as ‘writing and acting’ for example. It is due to this reason that most people find the fact that I am actively practicing kickboxing and performing arts very baffling. But I do not see it that way. 

Kickboxing is a form of martial art that keeps the body, one of the actor’s main tools ready for anything. On top of that, part of my training involves stepping in the ring to spar and train with some of the best that the Malaysian fight scene has to offer. There are very few experiences in life that teaches you more about yourself than when you step into the ring and face-off with someone else. How can I act as someone else if I do not know myself? I firmly believe my training regime has made me a better performer and overall actor. 

The perk is that it keeps me fit at the same time, which is awesome. It became especially handy when I had to lose 12 kg to play the role of THE SWIMMING INSTRUCTOR, staged in KLPAC last December 2009. 

My seemingly unfocused and varied career choices have led me to where I am now. Proudly working behind the scenes of Kakiseni.com with the goal to grow, highlight and encourage the growth of the creative community in Malaysia, with a focus on performing arts. After all this time, I believe I have finally found a home. It is a fine marriage of a day job and my passion(s). 

So, what do I tell people when people ask me what I do? I say, “I do all the things I love and I get paid for it.” 
- - - - - -
Michael will be acting in WHITE TRASH, a play that will be staged from 24 - 27 Aug 2011 @ 8.30pm | Saturday Matinee 27 Aug @ 3pm in MAP @ Publika, Solaris Dutamas. Tickets on 24 Aug "Pay What You Want (min RM5)" at the door and other shows will be RM23 for Adults and RM18 for students, disabled and senior citizens. Note a flat rate of RM18 for all tickets is applicable for the matinee performance. 

Tickets will be on sale online from 5 Aug onwards at www.kakiseni.com or available at the door. 

Directions to MAP: http://bit.ly/maptomap




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