- Annette Dawm
Exploring the Career of Lawrence Chau
Lawrence Chau considers himself to be a “master of many trades”. He is an “actor, TV host, writer, producer, former journalist and public relations consultant”. He has lived and worked in Toronto, Hong Kong, Singapore, and is currently located in Los Angeles.
As a teenager, Chau said that he became “fixated on shows like Entertainment Tonight and Extra!” which were “huge catalysts” when it came to choosing a career: “I always said I wanted to put my journalism degree to use that way. Years later, I did. First, in Hong Kong as a co-host on a show called Citylife, then in Singapore as the anchor and producer of Showbuzz, the country’s top international English entertainment news program. Entertainment news hosting was my springboard to acting, scripting and producing.”
Throughout his time in Asia, Lawrence conducted many interviews with some of the biggest names in entertainment. “….I’ve had exclusive interviews with the likes of George Clooney, Tom Hanks, Denzel Washington, Halle Berry, Celine Dion, Kevin Costner, Matt Damon, Boy George, Michelle Yeoh, Jackie Chan and Johnny Depp, to name a few. I was even handpicked to emcee the Vanilla Sky regional press conference and red carpet gala in Singapore with Tom Cruise, Penelope Cruz and Cameron Crowe in attendance….”
Back at home in Toronto, Chau also became the host of a paranormal program called Ghostly Encounters, which can still be viewed as reruns on various networks. Each episode featured re-enactments of ghost stories that were told by real people. As part of the audition process, Lawrence even had to share one of his own Ghostly Encounters!
“I have a few [experiences].” He explained. “One of them entails the story of ‘Big Foot’. I stayed late working one night at an old office in Toronto when the lights went out. After scrambling to reset the lights, I heard the elevator down the hall stop at my floor. I thought it was security checking in to see who was there so late. Nope. Instead, I heard slow, heavy, thumps walking from the elevator through our office corridor, right past my desk, and then down to the end of the office: Big Foot! Suddenly all the papers pinned on the back wallboard came tearing down. Then a lamp fell. I freaked! In a panic, I pinned everything back up, packed up, and tore off back home. I rang my supervisor the next morning. She confirmed she had a similar encounter, only the ghost (who we believe to be a custodian) walked right through her, sending a bone-chilling shiver through her body.”
Lawrence recalled that the show was meant to be creepy and so his scenes were shot in an actual old building rather than on a set: “It was filmed at the old Crystal Ballroom atop the King Edward Hotel in a historic part of Old Toronto in Canada. Back in the early 1900s, it was the mecca for high society socializing.For decades it went un-refurbished whilst the hotel below carried on with the times, that is, until recently.I believe it's been completely remodeled since our filming days.”
Over the last several years, Chau has channeled his energy into Justice for Vincent (JFV), a short film based on the lack of justice for murder victim, Vincent Chin: “Inspired by a true story, Justice for Vincent re-tells the brutal murder of Chinese American Vincent Chin. [He was beaten to death] by two disgruntled auto workers, who mistook Chin for being Japanese during the so-called, ‘Japanese Auto Invasion’ in Detroit 1982. We wrote and filmed that short in 2018 as the tide of hate was escalating in America. In a sad, prophetic way, the parallel of that crime and our film, foreshadowed the recent racial backlash and anti-Asian sentiment sparked by the pandemic.”
While the film is not currently available for public consumption, it has been widely-recognized at film festivals with numerous accolades (as seen above). Although it was a tough choice, Lawrence said that the most meaningful award might be the “Silver Telly Award for social issues bestowed by film and television industry experts”. He added, “We are talking to distributors about getting JFV onto streaming platforms, so stay tuned to jfvfilm.com.”
Chau described the process of entering film festivals as, “…very exciting, costly, laborious and exhausting. I sure learned a lot with JFV being my first film. Fortunately, there is a centralized hub to partake in film festivals via filmfreeway.com. My advice to any new filmmaker is to research each festival, map out a strategy, and allocate a handsome budget-- not just for producing the film, but also for marketing it, and partaking in the film festival circuit itself. The circuit can span years, if you so choose.”
Looking at the entertainment industry as a whole, he continued with the following advice: “Start early and stay focused.There is stress with jobs you hate as well as jobs you love. I think it's healthier for the soul if that stress is rooted to a job you love.Also, make sure you are blessed with the gene of steely resilience.The media/entertainment industry is one of the most competitive and unpredictable. The meek will not survive the rejection, long hours and unpredictability.”
Finally, when asked what he is looking forward to, Lawrence Chau replied: “Down time, then maybe more writing! I juggled far too many hats with JFV: writer, actor, and producer. As the producer, you are responsible for pooling all the cogs of the wheel together, and then promoting your work. I am going on three years with JFV and there are still a myriad of things to deal with behind-the-scenes.”
For more information, please visit www.lawrencechau.com.
Photo Courtesy of Lawrence Chau.
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