[Alumni dialogue] Hong Kong film star Lo Chun-yip (Siuyea)’s inner world

Hong Kong is known as one of the most fast-paced cities in the world. Lo Chun-yip (Siuyea), alumnus of Lingnan University, pauses and thinks for a moment, describing himself in this way, “I am now calmer and move at a slightly slower pace, which may have been my personality for a long time. For me, this lag is good. It gives me some space to think, especially in such a fast-paced place as Hong Kong.”


Having majored in film art at a local university, he acquired skills in craftsmanship and learned how to create films, however he delved into contemplating the deeper connotations and meanings behind films. As a result, he then decided to pursue a Master’s degree in Cultural Studies at Lingnan University. Now, after gaining 10 years of industry experience and having directed several projects, Siuyea has recently turned his attention towards pursuing an acting career. His film Time Still Turns The Pages was released recently, and the Office of Institutional Advancement and Public Affairs’ Alumni Relations Team interviews Siuyea in his studio about his filmmaking experiences and his years at Lingnan University.




A habit of questioning everything


Unwavering curiosity and a strong eagerness to explore new roles are crucial for an actor. The Master of Cultural Studies programme at Lingnan offers a comprehensive exploration of various humanities subjects, with core courses ranging from Perspectives in Cultural Studies to Critical Thinking through Popular Culture, Pedagogy and Cultural Studies, and Methods in Cultural Research. The programme suited Siuyea’s innate curiosity, and has inspired him to consider different perspectives and made him question everything. Whenever he comes across something new, he asks himself “Why?”.


During classes, we learned many theories and discussed current social issues. This process taught me to continuously seek connections. The learning experience during those years instilled in me a habit of seeking connections in social situations I come across in the news or on social media,” he explains.


Siuyea highlights the importance of curiosity to actors in order to explore the world and, also to embrace its diversity. This principle also applies to directors, who need an open mind to discover which aspects of the world are worth transforming into film. He believes that this curiosity helps in teaching as well. This September, he went back to teaching and started giving film courses at a higher education institution, referring to the teaching methods he learned from Cultural Studies.


Looking back on his time at Lingnan, Siuyea regrets not investing enough effort. A 20-something years of age, he juggled postgraduate studies, filmmaking, and so many other interests right after completing his undergraduate studies. It was all overwhelming, and he even contemplated giving up studying altogether. However, he has kept the notes and articles from the programme, and intends to look at them again when time allows.


Siuyea feels proud to have known professors and lecturers like Mr Benjamin Ma, Prof Hui Po-keung, Prof Ip lam-chong, Prof Law Wing-sang, Prof Hui Shiu-lun, Prof Lisa Leung, and Prof Dai Jinhua at Lingnan. “The newspaper columns during that era were dynamic, and our professors actively contributed to them. Our professors made a strong impression on me, because they were a dedicated group of scholars, deeply engaged with society, and inspiring role models for our generation.”


Embracing new possibilities as an actor


After graduating, Siuyea directed several independent films. In recent years, he has shifted his focus to acting, approaching each role with an open mind. Unfortunately, a few years ago the film industry, along with many others, was severely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. This resulted in far less work for him, and he has only made two films, Suk Suk and Time Still Turns The Pages, since then.


In the past few years, my career has not been particularly active in films or television. Even when I was in a film, though people recognised me, I would not consider myself truly active. During the pandemic, I was fortunate enough to be involved in several music videos, which were valuable learning experiences, and I am delighted to have had the opportunity to perform in different media, whether television, music videos, or films.”

After the release of Time Still Turns The Pages, Siuyea began reflecting on his past performances, and realised that he truly enjoys acting. He looks forward to playing different characters in the future, and does not limit himself. Each role is a fresh opportunity for experimentation.


A couple of years ago, after being nominated for Best Supporting Actor for my role in the film Suk Suk, I was often asked about the roles I wanted to try. I actually wanted to portray the character of a young father. Although the character in Suk Suk can be considered a young father, due to the nature and length of the film, I did not have much of an opportunity. I am looking for the role of a young father because I feel that stage of life is actually over for me, however, in the world of film, I can play characters in their late 20s or 30s, and really experience that.”


When discussing demanding roles that diverge from his own personality, he expresses that it was different from when he worked behind the scenes. “When I worked as a director and conducted casting, I looked for actors who resembled the characters. However, as an actor, my approach is somewhat different. There are occasions when I find myself playing 10 roles that are similar in terms of personality or background, and that may not always be helpful to an actor. Actors need a variety of roles to fully engage in life experiences and explore the possibilities.”

[Alumni dialogue] Hong Kong film star Lo Chun-yip (Siuyea)’s inner world

Encouraging the young to find their path


Studying film involves exploring diverse roles in production, including those of lighting designer, cameraman, director, screenwriter, production designer, gaffer, and many others. The industry offers a multitude of career paths, and Siuyea believes that for positions like director, cameraman, and editor, which require a specific skill set, it is essential to genuinely enjoy the work in order to commit in the long term. He encourages the young who are eager to enter the film industry to take the opportunity to try it out while they are studying or for a year or two after graduating. After all, this is not an industry known for its financial rewards, and if people cannot enjoy it, they may be deeply disappointed.


He adds that studying film or a related field opens up broader career prospects. As a result, he urges youngsters in the creative industries to constantly remind themselves to follow their true passions, and find out what aligns best with their interests and abilities.


Do you think that after studying directing for four years, you have to be a director for the rest of your life? Of course not. You have only studied that for four years, but you still have three or four decades left in your career, and you may well do something related to it, and that something may truly have infinite possibilities.”


At events, Siuyea sometimes comes across youngsters studying film, and responds warmly by saying “See you at the studio!”. He believes that this simple gesture is both encouraging and supportive.


Finding the “right” audience


Siuyea stars as Mr Cheng, a high school class teacher going through a marital crisis while trying to support his students, in the recent local box-office hit Time Still Turns The Pages. The role demanded extensive preparation, requiring him to depict Mr Cheng’s various internal struggles.


When I first read the script, I really wanted to give Mr Cheng a big, warm hug. Before filming commenced, I had numerous imagined conversations with Mr Cheng, during which we exchanged personal experiences. These exchanges fostered a deeper understanding of each other. Right from the start, I could sense his emotional turmoil and the complex factors that shaped his character. There were childhood regrets, a burden he had evaded since he was nine, sidestepping it for so long that it made him emotionally hollow.


Then, at high school he met Ms Lin, who later becomes his wife in the story. This relationship provided a pivotal emotional connection in his 30s, a time when he genuinely felt the warmth of being alive. Yet, he repeatedly missed opportunities with her, and his job too presented its own challenges. As a teacher, he was expected to juggle various responsibilities with passion and dedication. However, his emotional wounds often left Mr Cheng lacking the strength to meet these demands fully. Still, he had to maintain the facade of a caring teacher, despite his inability to engage genuinely with his students due to his overwhelming sense of powerlessness.”


Siuyea emphasises that portraying Mr Cheng required him to deeply connect with the character’s significant relationships and experiences. Even after filming, it took time to gradually let go and completely detach himself from the character.


Time Still Turns The Pages leaves most viewers with a profound sense of heaviness. It not only seeks the right audience but also encourages viewers to tend to their own emotions before caring for others. “In recent months, there has been a disturbing rise in student suicide rates. The release of this movie coincides with this pressing issue, and it aims to reach an audience that needs its message. It is not only for those contemplating suicide, but also for parents, teachers, and students who are content with their studies.”


Siuyea hopes that after watching the movie, viewers will pay more attention to their mental health and the well-being of those around them. As Mr Cheng says in the movie, “I may not be able to help, but I will stay by your side.”

[Alumni dialogue] Hong Kong film star Lo Chun-yip (Siuyea)’s inner world