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My life: Josie Ho

The singer and actress talks to Olivia Rosenman about being starstruck as a child and convincing her famous father to let her follow her dreams

 

SIBLING RIVALRY (Childhood) was really fun. I was never bored, except when my sisters went abroad. We fought a lot, over anything - a box of tissues, anything. They would do sports inside the house, like kicking a ball, and I would tell on them. I was a little bitch. When they all got sent abroad to the (United) States, to high school, there was only me and my brother left. Then I got bored. There was always somebody to push me around and kick me around and suddenly they were all gone.

A DAY AT THE THEATRE I went to this all-girls' convent school. St Paul's Convent was a French school but I never took French. I couldn't even pass my Chinese. I was just into sports; I wasn't really into studying. Sports and maybe arts. I wasn't a good student. I lived in the eastern Mid-Levels when I was young. My school was around there. Down the hill, there used to be a famous (movie) theatre called the Isis Theatre. Theatres in Hong Kong used to be a major hang-out spot. They had a big foyer and they were selling junk food, drinks. Everybody waited around the stairs with tickets for their friends. Even people who were not watching a film would go into that foyer just to hang out on the weekends. I think that's a big part of the reason why the industry was booming and there was a big audience in the 1980s.

My school was around the block from that theatre so I passed by every day. I used to go there a lot. I remember one time I ran away from school in the middle of the day and went to catch a movie with friends - that was when we learned they showed porn during the day time! This was the first time we went out there in the day time and it made the whole day really trippy. I think I was around 12 or 11. We used to go and watch normal movies at night time.

NOBODY LIKE SHOWBODIES Even at eight years old I dreamt about being a singer. I was hanging around with my sister (Pansy Ho Chiu-king) a lot and she happened to have a lot of popular singers as friends, like Anita Mui (Yim-fong), Danny Chan (Pak-keung). (Mui) was our good family friend; she was almost like a sister to me. At first I only dreamed about being a singer but, after I met (the stars), it took me one step closer to reality. I would go visit them on set, in the studio, at concerts. It really opened my vision and, once I got to know these people, and I got to see them perform on stage, I was like, "I want to live that moment, too!"

PERSUADING FATHER I did a performance for my dad's (casino tycoon Stanley Ho Hung-sun) beauty pageant in Macau; I sang a few songs and then Virgin Records was looking for me. They wanted to sign me up. Pansy did all the talking, she believed in me. She knew it was a really surreal idea for my family … so she planned a whole meal, a whole meeting. She said everything for me to my father. So, in the end, with her guarantee, he accepted it. We were surprised and so happy. So instead of letting me go back to uni in LA, I told him, "I know what I want to do." I had a really clear vision; it's not like I was wishy washy about it. It was very clear that I didn't want to go to school, so they might as well save that money and bring me back, where they can watch me and make sure nothing goes wrong. Just imagine - someone who doesn't want to go to school and has money and goes abroad, all they'll do is party!

BREAKING THE MOULD Where I came from, a woman has to be very traditional, very ladylike. They have a very boring frame of mind, for me. Anita was the first modern and independent woman that I'd seen. That kind of figure really inspired me; is that how a woman can be? They can still be attractive? She is my hero. I think my parents can feel how serious I am about it now. I think that, with old people, the thing is they don't feel how serious you are until you bring home some achievements. So I was really thankful to have some of the nominations and awards that I've been given because those things are actually not for me, they're for them, to reassure them.

I needed to make sure I knew how much I could earn by myself, with my own hands. That's why I kept working so hard. It's very important because one day those things might be gone and you might have to come out and make a living yourself. I wanted to know that earlier rather than too late.

ORIGINAL ORIGINS I think, with anyone coming from Hong Kong, we basically don't really feel much of an identity because we are still trying to find ourselves. No matter where I go, I don't know whether I'm British, Chinese, Canadian, Portuguese, or anything. I went to Canada during my teenage childhood. I did enjoy their lifestyle; that was an eye-opener for me. They are more laid back compared to Hong Kong. They know how to enjoy life, but we know how to work. I just missed Hong Kong so much when I was in Canada, all my family, my friends. I think Hong Kong is a very convenient place compared to Canada; that's why I came back. And because I really wanted to join the show business industry - and I thought that this was the only place I would have any chance.

 

Naked Ambition 3D (in Cantonese, with English subtitles), starring Josie Ho Chiu-yee, is showing in cinemas now.

 

 

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