Keeping his eye on his goal

15 May 2019 / 10:46 H.

BRIAN CHAN has a smile that brightens up any room. And he has every reason to be happy.

At the recent 16th Boh Cameronian Arts Awards, the 24-year-old actor walked away with the award for best performer in a leading role for his turn in the critically-acclaimed musical theatre production, OlaBola the Musical.

“It was my first [nomination] for any award, and also my first time winning any award,” says Chan. “Winning was not on my mind. I felt lucky just to be nominated. But it is nice being recognised.”

Under the direction of actress-producer Tiara Jacqueline, Chan took on the role of Chow Kwok Keong, better known as Tauke. As the captain of the national football team, Chow worked hard to realise his dream of taking his team to the Olympic Games.

“I am lucky to have [been given such] a solid role,” Chan told theSun in an interview after his win.

He points out that his character is loosely based on real-life Malaysian football legend Datuk Soh Chin Aun, who shared a similar dream of playing at the Olympics.

“He [Soh] embodies what Malaysia is all about,” says Chan. “I did not get the chance to meet him before our production began. I read about him on the internet, and talked to people who know him.”

Chan eventually did meet Soh, when the football legend came to watch the musical.

Chan says being an actor was never on his mind. He grew up playing sport. “I was into football, rugby and water polo when I was a teenager.”

But at 16, he says he decided to join his school’s drama programme “because I wanted to meet girls!”.

He played a small role in his school production of Beauty and the Beast. That experience sparked an interest in him for the performing arts, and slowly his love for acting began to grow.

After leaving high school, Chan opted to study for a diploma in performing arts. He thought his parents would object to his choice, but he was wrong.

“I really believed they wanted me to be a doctor or a lawyer, so that I would have a more stable career,” he recalls.

But his parents surprised him with their full support for his decision, and have never failed to catch all his performances.

“My parents have seen OlaBola the Musical at least nine times!” Chan declares. “I like having my parents among the audience. But I get more nervous when I know my family and friends are watching me perform.

“Often I tell my friends not to let me know they are catching my show. Instead, they should come unannounced, and surprise me after the show.”

After graduating in 2015, Chan joined the ensemble for Usman Awang’s famous masterpiece Uda & Dara that same year.

Later, he scored leading roles in theatre productions such as Cheras the Musical, Always in Wonderful and Thunderstorm.

In 2017, he was nominated as one of Cleo magazine’s hot 50 bachelors.

Now, Chan is hoping to go into films and television. He would also love to act for directors such as Dain Said (Dukun), Zahir Omar (Fly By Night), Adrian Teh (Paskal: The Movie) and Chiu Keng Guan (who helmed the 2016 film version of OlaBola).

“They tell good stories, and I want to work with people who tell good stories,” he says. “I want to be known as an actor who can tell good stories.”

Chan also harbours a dream of making it big in Hollywood. He wants to follow in the footsteps of fellow Malaysian actor Henry Golding, star of Crazy Rich Asians and A Simple Favor.

He knows that it is not going to be easy, but he is prepared to put in the hard work.

“It is going to be a daunting and crazy task,” he admits. “[But] I did [another tough] thing in OlaBola the Musical. I was only 22 when I got the lead role. My director (Tiara) ... taught me that I should attempt things that are daunting and crazy.”

He is also not afraid of being stereotyped in Hollywood as an ‘Asian actor’. He believes things are changing in Hollywood and there is a growing movement to give Asian actors better and more solid roles.

“I believe Asian actors in Hollywood are no longer pigeon-holed,” he adds.

His words of advice to budding actors out there: “I wanted to be an actor. I followed my heart and I never regretted my decision.

“There are days when I spend 12 hours in rehearsal, and I go home feeling very tired. But the next day, I wake up and I feel excited to work again.”

email blast