Monica Majors sits down with the humble and approachable star of The Housemaid, Kate Nhung. Photo by Vinh Dao.
What was it about your childhood or upbringing that made you decide to go into acting?
I have two friends who go to the University of Theatres and Cinema. They asked me to attend one of the classes with them just for fun. At that time I was quite rebellious so I went ahead. In class, the professor picked me out to do a scene. I tried to refuse but he insisted so I had to go in front of the class and perform. Afterwards I was quite relieved because the professor didn’t know that I was a stranger [to the class]. After class he approached me and I thought that I would get in trouble, but the result was quite the opposite. He told me my face was very cinematic and wanted personally to help me get better. I told him that I hadn’t officially registered for the school. He told me, sometimes “the art chooses the artist”. That line has stuck with me to this day. I trained hard, and I made the audition into the University. The more I learn the more I’m passionate about acting, and it grows in me each and every day.
Did your family support your decision to work in performing arts?
Yes, My family supported me. My mother and I are like best friends and I can share with her all my feelings. I was taught to be independent and make my own decisions ever since I was a child. My parents are always behind me observing. If I’m at peace and happy, they congratulate me. I can make a mistake [but] I am to be responsible and learn from it.
What do you think is the most underrated part of being an actress?
For me it would be self-respect and work ethic. In Vietnam, some young actors and entertainers do everything possible to be famous. They achieve fame and riches, but fail to realise that the art also requires passion, responsibility and self-respect in order to have true values.
You are self-described as being very open and truthful. Do you find this a rare quality among celebrities?
I believe in choosing the most comfortable path of living. Facing the truth makes me free and unafraid. I seldom attend parties and events, nor do I know many people in the industry. Showbiz is the world that I find myself a stranger to, and I don’t want to adjust to fit in. I’m not saying my way is good and others are not. As long as the choice is mine and I’m happy, it is the right choice and I am at peace. I’m an actress. I work on the projects I like. When I have time I take my motorcycle and ride wherever I like and do whatever I like.
You enjoy riding motorcycles. Tell us how that started and what you enjoy most about riding?
Four years ago I started learning Mixed Martial Arts at Lien Phong Training Center, a popular dojo in Vietnam. Quite a few coaches and students there ride motorcycles and they all love them. Their passion transferred to me and that’s how I started. Riding is much like meditation. The stressful thinking goes away, the road ahead is all that is at present to enjoy. A bliss that I cannot describe with words, it must be experienced.
Other than that, what do you like to do when not filming?
If I’m not filming, I would stay home and take care of my wild orchid plants. I concentrate on them and let them know that I treasure them. Seeing them grow and seeing the flowers form is very enjoyable. Sometimes I find a good book and read, and in these moments I find myself in harmony and at peace. Besides that, motorcycles give me the excitement. If I’m not riding them, I would be washing and polishing them. I take care of them well because they have been taking care of me.
Tell us about some of your current projects.
At this time, I’ve just finished a role in the movie Sút, and I’m still in promotion for The Housemaid movie that released in September.
How have these projects helped your acting to evolve?
Beside performing the role of the character in the filmmaking part of the project, I also have a responsibility as an actor to promote the film. Together with The Housemaid team, I try to reach out to the audience as much as possible in this process.
The Housemaid is a horror movie. What’s the scariest thing that’s ever happened to you?
When I was 10 I was very naughty and climbed on top of an abandoned water-well to play. I fell in. Falling was not the scary part but because many people had thrown trash into the well, hundreds of cockroaches started to crawl all over my body. That feeling was horrific to the extreme! I was looking to the opening above but the cockroaches crawled all over my face and it seems like the sky was being covered by monsters. It took me quite a while to get over the incident, but now I am no longer afraid of cockroaches.
What’s next for you?
I have a plan to discover the American continents on my motorcycle next year. I have heard and seen people, even elderly people, riding around the USA on their bicycles or even discovering the world by hitchhiking. They do this because of the drive they have within. I am young and my motorcycle goes much faster than the bicycles, so why not do it?
What advice do you have for youngsters who wish to break into performing arts?
Keep your passion alive. Follow that transcending feeling in the performance. Do not allow the negative energy and pessimistic thoughts to be a bother. Live in the now.