Flying over the radar

ACTOR Alvin Chong was once an opportunist. At a young age, the Penang-born started working in fast food joints to earn extra pocket money. One day, he found out that he could earn more per hour by singing in cafes.

“That completely blew my mind, then I started looking for those singing gigs,” Chong recollected.

Together with a few friends, he joined the Astro Star Quest singing competition when he moved to Kuala Lumpur to further his tertiary education. He got into the fifth placing, and later on received an offer from a recording company where he would begin his career in show business.

Tell us about your venture into acting.

Back then, I was really reluctant to do anything else other than singing. My company would ask me to try hosting, or acting in dramas, films, and commercials, but I was reluctant. I emerged from a singing competition – the only thing I knew how to do was sing! I didn’t think I was capable of hosting a programme or acting. I never went for any classes and I had zero experience in acting. That was why I suffered for the first few years. I didn’t get a lot of jobs, because frankly speaking, I wasn’t really that good in singing either. I wasn’t properly trained.

After several years, I realised that I cannot depend on just singing, so I started accepting cameo roles in films to get a hang of things. Somehow I managed to find interest in it, and from there I ventured into films and commercials. I even did a radio hosting gig for a while, talking about K-pop.

How did you land the role of Johan in Suri Hati Mr. Pilot?

I started venturing into the Malay drama scene last year. Before that, many of my peers told me to try my hand at the entertainment scene in Taiwan or China. But I told them, how could I survive out there if I cannot survive in the Malaysian entertainment scene, in a country I’m familiar with and where my family and friends are? I knew nobody in China.

I told myself that I needed to have a stable fan base in Malaysia before I venture overseas. So even if I don’t make it out there, I can always return home. Hence, for the past year I have been meeting directors and crews, to convey my interest to try out in the Malay drama sector.

One of my goals is to break down the walls between races, especially with all that’s going on in our country right now. I wanted people to look at us as Malaysian artistes instead of at our races. I’m not sure if I’ll be able to achieve that, but joining the cast of Suri Hati Mr. Pilot was a good start. My role in the drama is very small; I had roughly 30 scenes. But somehow, people liked my character.

Have you thought of exploring the opportunities outside of showbiz?

I think in a few more years, I will go further into entrepreneurship. I don’t want to just sing and act. But I can’t deny that I love performing onstage and the attention I get. However, in the long run, I know for a fact that I would want to settle down, build a family and spend time with them. As an artiste, you can’t predict your free time. When jobs come, you have to take it. Otherwise, you don’t get paid. That’s the catch.

How is entrepreneurship treating you so far?

For starters, I’ve released merchandise in line with my character in Suri Hati Mr Pilot. My character Johan is known as the ‘love doctor’, hence I worked with a friend to create a fragrance called Dr. Love Fragrance. I am also my own talent manager, and I hope to sign more talents in the coming years.

TRIVIA

Currently watching: The Originals(TV series).

All-time favourite movie: The Blind Side (2009).

Actor he looks up to: Johnny Depp.

Preferred music genre: Pop.

A role he wants to portray: “A paralysed character who’s unable to talk; similar to Stephen Hawking.”