22 October 2016
Actors like Tom Hiddleston provide audiences with a creative vision of the human condition. Photo: YouTube
Actors like Tom Hiddleston provide audiences with a creative vision of the human condition. Photo: YouTube

In defence of acting endeavors

I have always considered acting to be a noble profession.

Hence, I find it perplexing when questions are raised as to why some people would “waste” their education to pursue acting careers.

We should bear in mind that actors do not merely entertain; they also provide us with a creative vision of the human condition.

The craft of acting requires the ability to empathize and express. It is both an intellectual and emotional pursuit.

I believe the mindset of those who question the career choices of actors is symptomatic of a parochial snobbery prevalent in Hong Kong.

The vast majority in our city seem depressingly fixated with jobs such as medicine, banking and the law as the only paths to real success.

In contrast, not only is it common in the West for academic high-achievers to embark on acting careers, it is also considered a respectable thing to do.

I recently watched the fantastic BBC drama, “The Night Manager”, which featured four Cambridge graduates.

One of those four actors, Tom Hiddleston, who is tipped to become the next James Bond, is never hesitant to display his impressive classical scholarship.

In fact, the Footlights drama club in Cambridge is famous for nurturing a plethora of thespian luminaries including numerous Oscar winners.

Many of the problems faced by Hong Kong are a result of the narrow-minded attitudes here.

The insidious sneering at and belittling of those who have the temerity to choose a career which does not conform to our society’s preconceived notions of a “worthwhile” job is just a reflection of our own insecurities and prejudices.

What people should be judged on is the decency of their character and the positive contribution they make to society.

Members of the acting profession offer a great deal of pleasure to their audiences and their art can have a transformative power.

Everyone is unique, and we all have our own different ways to achieve purpose and fulfillment in our fleeting lives.

Hence, it is meaningless to live by the typical Hongkonger’s yardsticks of material wealth and occupational status.

As William Shakespeare, the quatercentenary of whose death we have been commemorating this year, noted: “Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player, that struts and frets his hour upon the stage, and then is heard no more.”

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Barrister and member of Path of Democracy

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