Joel Lok: I wasn’t aware of how big Golden Horse nomination was
When Joel Lok was 13, he became the youngest person to win Australia’s Inside Film Award for Best Actor.
The accolade was for his debut performance in the 2007 Australian-Singapore film The Home Song Stories.
Chinese-American actress Joan Chen and Singapore-based Chinese actor Qi Yuwu co-starred in the film.
Lok got a Best Supporting Actor nomination at the Golden Horse Awards for his role.
“I was quite young at the time. The awards were all just a lot of fun,” Lok, now 22, told The New Paper over the phone from Melbourne.
“For the Golden Horse Award, I wasn’t aware of how big it was.” The Australian actor has roots in Singapore — like a growing crop of stars on the small screen.
Lok was born here in 1994 and moved to Melbourne with his family when he was two years old.
Almost a decade after The Home Song Stories, he is back on our radar with his lead role as geeky student Andy Lau in the first two seasons of Australian TV series Nowhere Boys.
Currently airing on Channel 5 at 11.59pm on Saturday, the fantasy adventure follows Andy Lau, goth Felix Ferne (Dougie Baldwin), all-rounder Sam Conte (Rahart Adams) and jock Jake Riles (Matt Testro) as they get lost on a school trip and find themselves transported to an alternate reality in which they were never born.
Lok reprised his role in the film adaptation Nowhere Boys: The Book Of Shadows, released earlier this year.
But he admitted it’s still a challenge to break into the Australian entertainment industry as an Asian actor.
“Others (actors on Nowhere Boys) seem to be getting a lot more auditions (than me),” he said.
The roles he gets are problematic as well.
Lok said: “To be honest, every single role I’ve done has been that of a stereotypical Asian or started off as such.”
In Nowhere Boys, his character is a nerd who grows “out of his shell” as the series progresses.
NOW: Joel Lok (second from right) in Australian TV series Nowhere Boys. PHOTO: NBC UNIVERSAL
In the upcoming Australian TV series Barracuda, he has a small role as a bullied student.
Lok is currently focusing on his studies at RMIT University in Melbourne and will give more thought to his acting career after graduation.
He said: “I have considered acting in Singapore and China. I’m open to anything.”
Lok used to visit Singapore every year until 2010 to keep in touch with his extended family.
He said of his trips back: “Food was definitely the highlight. I enjoyed going to hawker centres as a kid.”
Lok caught the acting bug in primary school, where he performed in yearly plays at Camberwell Grammar School, and made his film debut when he was 11 for The Home Song Stories.
“Yuwu’s great. He was almost like an older brother to me at that time. We played a lot of games on set,” he said.
He added that it was nice to be around someone connected to Singapore and to hear the familiar accent during filming.
Lok said he does not follow the local entertainment scene or keep in touch with Qi. It was through his parents that he learnt that Qi married local actress Joanne Peh two years ago.
"To be honest, every single role I’ve done has been that of a stereotypical Asian or started off as such."
- Australian actor Joel Lok
English actors with s’pore roots
JESSICA HENWICK, 23
Nymeria Sand, daughter of Prince Oberyn Martell, in Game Of Thrones (HBO, StarHub Ch 601, Mondays at 9pm).
She also acted in Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015) and The Spirit Warriors (2009-2010).
Born in England to Singaporean mother and English father. Henwick visited Singapore at least once a year while growing up.
“The food at the hawker centres is incredible. My best memories of growing up are of eating,” she had told The New Paper in an interview.
“I’m also very kiasu (Hokkien for afraid to lose) — I inherited that from my mother.”
PHOTO: WARNER BROS
JON FOO, 33
Jonathan Lee, a Hong Kong detective who partnered American detective James Carter (Justin Hires), in Rush Hour (Channel 5, Thursdays at 10pm), a remake of the film franchise of the same name starring Jackie Chan and Chris Tucker.
He also acted in Tekken (2009) and Universal Soldier: Regeneration (2009).
Born in England to Singaporean father and Irish mother, Foo has said that his favourite food is chicken rice.
His Singapore connection also served as an inspiration for his character’s accent in Rush Hour.
He said: “I’ve got a lot of family in Singapore, so I used all of the voices that I’ve heard.”
Foo got his start as a martial artist at an early age.
He began training in gongfu at the age of eight, took on wushu at 15 and studied Muay Thai and Western boxing in later years.
This led to an early career as a stuntman in films such as Left For Dead (2004) and Batman Begins (2005).
He told entertainment website PEP.ph: “I’m happy with where I am now and the (action film) genre has opened a lot of doors for me.”