Acting requires an immense commitment to your character and the scene. Great acting demands more of the actor, it requires an extraordinary emotional intelligence that’s recognised by many but possessed by the few. Jing Lusi is a great actor and we should take the time to get to know her.
Only days away from premiering on Sky 1’s new Stan Lee developed show, Lucky Man (premiering 22nd January), Jing caught up with List For Life to discuss the relationship between acting and writing, the dimensions of TV acting vs stage acting and offered some intelligent, beautiful and articulate gems of wisdom for us.
1. What inspired you to start acting in the first place?
I am not sure if I was inspired to act, or if I even had a choice in the matter. Which sounds unbelievable given that I graduated law and all my parents wanted was for me to don a smart suit and earn big bucks.
There has always been a deep drive somewhere within me to explore the vast range of human emotions. Perhaps spending my first few years in 1980s China formed the basis for this; a time rife with regime and control where emotions were not widely displayed. Then when I came to England, I looked and felt completely different to everyone here. I stuck out like a sore thumb. At five years old, I had to quickly adapt and assimilate to a new world. It is incredible how your survival skills kick in and carry you through. At that age, habits develop unconsciously. As you grow up, those skills form who you are.
Conveniently, that is what acting is. Having the need and to feel emotions most others shy away from, and then to craft behaviours to build a fictitious person whom you then present to the world as real. We actually all do this every day. It’s just that some of us get paid to do so.
2. Out of film, television and stage, what do you find the most rewarding
For me, there is a real sense of intimacy between you and the viewer when you’re on TV. For films and theatre, the viewer finds a convenient time to go to a public place, sit amongst an audience full of strangers, and collectively enjoy a piece of work.
With TV, it is the other way round. You are in the viewer’s space, at any time. I think you affect the viewer in a different way when they are in the privacy of their own home, when they themselves are not on display. I think they let their guard down. I’d like to think therefore your work touches people slightly deeper.
3. How was it working with James Nesbitt on Lucky Man?
Goodness, that man really has Irish charm and more. He was a dream to work with. It is a given that he is a brilliant actor, but working with him, it’s no surprise to see why he continues to go from strength to strength in his career.
I always think that being the lead of a project is like being the host of a house party. If you are having a good time and make people feel relaxed, welcomed and appreciated, then everyone will enjoy themselves; and in a work situation, they perform at their best. Jimmy is definitely one good host with some great craic.
4. What was the hardest role you ever had to play and why?
I found Lily-Anne in Stan Lee’s Lucky Man a very interesting and delicious challenge. Apart from looking like her after two hours in make up, I am nothing like her. I do not understand her world. We could not be more different.
To start, she is what people may call a villain. ‘Villain’ is such an easy label and it should follow that the character would be straightforward. However, I think an actor’s work is to bring truth and humanity to any role. It would be lazy to play a 2-dimensional character who is bad for the sake of being bad because realistically, no one is like that. We all make the best decisions we can based on our own circumstances, which are subject to judgement by others. Then society’s ‘good’ and ‘bad’ labels come out.
You have to understand your character. You have to like them. You have to be on their side. To find the heart behind the perceived bad guy, to understand why someone would do the things they do, to dismiss their own (objectively atrocious) actions with such cool disregard, kind of involves getting into the mind a sociopath.
5. Would you ever consider a career change into film/television writing or producing?
Yes, all the time. Rather than being mutually exclusive, I think that acting, writing and producing all hugely complement each other. My dream is to write, produce and act in my own work. I don’t feel ready yet though; I have still got a lot to learn on the day job. The more scripts I read and characters I play, the more I learn about what makes a good piece of writing. And producing is more about making things happen. Anyone can do that. But not everyone can make great things happen.
6. If you could go back in time and give yourself advice 10 years ago, what would you say?
Talk less. Listen more.
When something good happens, do a little dance.
Your differences are what makes you likeable, loveable and employable: ‘They laugh at me because I’m different. I laugh at them because they’re the same’. I can’t take credit for that one, that was Kurt Cobain.
You’ve got a long road ahead so take care of yourself.
And finally, **spoiler alert**, you’ll be fine.