Sunday, May 20, 2007

Bo Wai Kit - Dedicated to TV, Following in the Footsteps of Ho Kwok Wing

[Extracts from Apple Daily 20/03/07 - Posted on Bowaikit Fan Blog entry]
(Summary & Translation by Em@TVBspace)

Bo Wai Kit - Dedicated to TV, Following in the Footsteps of Ho Kwok Wing

When you think of a non-Chinese actor who can speak fluent Cantonese, then apart from Ho Kwok Wing (Gregory Rivers) and Kiu Bo Bo (Gill Mohindepaul Singh), then recently there is a new face on the scene and that is Bo Wai Kit (Brian Burrell), who plays the husband of Angela Tong in new TVB sitcom "Best Selling Secrets". He is a true enthusiast of Chinese Culture and seven years ago, he gave up a highly paid job to become a full time actor and realise his dream of becoming an artiste. In this interview, Brian imitated the actions of SAR Chief Executive Donald Tsang during his re-election campaign and wrote down on a piece of paper in Chinese the words: "I will do this job well", pledging to bring enjoyment to the viewers. Although he could not remember some of the words and had to ask for help from the reporter, his writing was very neat and worthy of praise.

In the show, Brian plays a creative director for an advertising company, who is married to Angela Tong's character. Able to speak fluently in Cantonese, he arrived in Hong Kong in 1995 to teach English and after just a year and a half, he had grown affectionate towards this place. Afterwards, he returned to America to study a degree in Chinese Literature and Putonghua before deciding in 1999 to cross the waters and put his Chinese language abilities to good use.

Giving up $70,000 Salary

Currently aged 34, Brian indicates that in 1995, he watched the performance of Ho Kwok Wing on the television and was deeply inspired by him, raising his great interest in the performing arts: "At the time, I said to myself that in the future, I will be a second Ho Kwok Wing." In order to reach this goal, Brian worked hard to perfect his Cantonese whilst working in a highly paid IT job and took on a number of roles as an extra. He says: "I know that I am a 'gwailo' (Caucasian) and my appearance limits me to certain roles and there will not be a chance for me to be a lead, but I am not entering the industry to become a star, I just like acting a lot and I hope to bring enjoyment to the audience."

In order to put his focus into his performance, in 2000, he gave up his IT job, which was earning him $60,000-$70,000 a month and decided to become a full time extra: "Working as an extra meant that your income was very unstable and in one month, I only earned $5000, so after paying my rent, I only had $2000 to spend for the month. My life was quite hard then and I could only eat cup noodles and bread, but it did not shake my determination. Fortunately, I had a lot of good friends by my side to support me and when I did not have any money or work, they would help me and buy me dinner."

Being Led by Ho Kwok Wing

Having been affected and inspired by Ho Kwok Wing, then he shows his gratitude after receiving this opportunity to appear in "Best Selling Secrets" from Ho Kwok Wing. He explains: "I have heard that when TVB were originally casting this show, their first choice for the role was Ho Kwok Wing, but at the time, he was busy with his musical production, so he suggested me to the company. He said that he did not want TVB to just have one Caucasian actor, so the company gave me this opportunity. The happiest thing for me was that they even signed me on as a contracted artiste."

Brian is paired up with Angela in the show and he says: "After only a few episodes were aired, when I went out people would be calling me by my character's name 'Wai Yat'. Although they may not know my real name, for them to remember my character has already given me a great satisfaction and it proves they have an impression of me."

For his performance in the show, Brian gives himself 60-70% and explains: "I have watched the tapes and I feel I am still quite stiff. I will continue to improve and do my very best." Brian plans to perfect his acting and then move into direction. He says: "I think after I have gained 10 years of acting experience, then I will have the chance to move behind the scenes and experience a taste of being a director."

Thanks to Efforts of Girlfriend

For Brian's Cantonese to improve so rapidly, much of this is thanks to the efforts of his girlfriend. He says: "All my girlfriends have been from Hong Kong and they have all lost out to me because their English has not improved, but I have had more opportunities to speak Cantonese. Now I don't like speaking in English so much and I feel that I can convey my feelings more truly in Cantonese."

Mini Profile:
English Name: Brian Thomas Burrell
Birthday: 23rd March
Hometown: Salt Lake City, USA
Height: 6 ft 2
Interests: Acting, Guitar, Karaoke
Education: Major - Chinese Literature/Asian Studies (Graduated 1999)
Photo from

Em's Note: After watching Brian's performance in 'Best Selling Secrets', I find him to have a lot of potential as an actor and in many ways a lot easier and more comfortable to watch than Ho Kwok Wing. I think he has done very well to break into the difficult world of TVB and I look forward to seeing him in more productions in the future.

If you're interested in finding out more about him, visit his thread at the Official TVB Best Selling Secrets Forum - where he sometimes goes on to chat with fans (and in English too).

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