Qi Yuwu might have been known as a block of wood when he first made his showbiz debut, but the 42-year-old has left those days behind him a long time ago. These days, he’s well-regarded in the acting circuit, and even took on the role as judge at the Star Search open auditions last month.
We caught up with the actor after his judging stint and he told Toggle that the entire experience was one that he would remember for a long time.
“I felt like I was looking at myself from years ago – inexperienced, green, and hoping that someone would be able to acknowledge my performance,” the Star Search 1999 finalist mused. “The scenes that they had to act out during the audition were pretty tough. For a young person to have to take on roles that are much older and that more experienced actors have played is not as simple as it seems. Those who came for the audition did very well for the short amount of time they were given.”
He continued, “That’s what showbiz is like. Not everyone will have a character who’s made for you, and not every role will be comfortable for you. It’s part of the job of an actor to find a way to shine in the roles that you’re given.”
Qi Yuwu accepting his first Best Actor award for his role in 'The Family Court'
Performance-wise, he chuckled that every single one of those who auditioned did a better job than he did in 1999.
“I must say that I take my hat off to the bosses back then. How could they look beyond my terrible performance and ask me to continue acting?” he laughed. “I think everyone I saw did better than I did. I was too stiff and serious. I was too afraid when I was auditioning. At the same time, it’s perfectly normal to get nervous. If you were to ask me to stand on a stage to perform right now, I don’t think I could do it with 100 percent confidence.”
For Yuwu, the road to improvement was a long and slow one which started with an epiphany.
“I used to be a yes-man who didn’t have an opinion about acting and just did whatever I was told. It was only after I received my first Top 10 Most Popular Male Artiste Award (in 2004) that I started to look at acting differently,” Yuwu explained. “I felt like I didn’t quite deserve it because I didn’t even have my basics down right. I wanted to be able to pay the audience back with a performance that I could call acting.”
It wasn’t that Yuwu was slacking off before 2004, however, as he explained that it was a matter of not being able to identify himself as an actor, rather than an artiste.
Qi Yuwu accepting his first Top 10 Most Popular Male Artiste Award in 2004
“I called myself an actor, but the time and energy I spent being an actor wasn’t enough. As an artiste, I did a lot of things at the same time – variety, charity programmes and so on,” he said. “I realised that I needed to identify myself properly as an actor and work on things that actors should work on. When you focus entirely on one thing, you become very productive and you can improve very quickly.”
Not everyone was supportive of his decision, however, as there were some who felt he had become arrogant after winning the award.
“I never said no to anything in the past and people found that I was very easy to work with. That’s why I could also understand how they might have felt. Nobody likes rejection, and I suddenly started saying no to certain things that I felt wouldn’t help me become a better actor,” he explained. “I tried my best to communicate with the people around me, but because this sudden change came about just after I got my first Top 10, so there were some who didn’t view this change in a positive light.”
“Over time, people could see through my acting that I had a reason for doing what I did. I think that’s the best way I could pay everyone back for the opportunity and trust they put in me right from the start.”
Check out Star Search’s microsite for more information.