How Hong Kong’s Anita Chui went from studying business to show biz

How Hong Kong’s Anita Chui went from studying business to show biz

It’s been 10 years since Hong Kong actress Anita Chui stopped pursuing her master’s degree in business administration in the UK to focus on her blossoming acting career. Since then, she has built a solid portfolio and has starred in films like “Special Female Force," “Lockdown," “Follia" and more.

TMS met up exclusively with Chui to discuss her journey into acting, her love of lifelong learning and what’s next for her down the road.

From accounting to acting

Many would expect Chui’s decision to stop pursuing her master’s degree and instead focus on acting was difficult, requiring a long time to think it over before making the move. Especially with Chui’s family background being so rooted in business and finance, the pressure to work toward a “professional" job was intense.

“They always wanted me to get a professional job like an accountant or financial analyst," Chui recalls. “Plus, I [was] really good at mathematics when I was at school. So, my mom chose accounting for my major subjects in [my] bachelor’s degree and MBA for my master’s degree in the University of Sheffield."

While studying at university, Chui was involved in various extracurricular activities, including joining the drama society. This experience helped her realize a newfound passion for performing and acting. “I realized that I enjoy performing and acting very much, so I decided to pursue a career in acting after graduation," says Chui. “So I talked to my mom and I appreciate that she showed her support."

Chui also met her former manager, Parker Wong, in the UK and was inspired to give acting a chance. “So I sent my profile to some of the major entertainment companies in Hong Kong while I was doing my last year of [my] master’s degree," says Chui. “I finally got cast by Sun Entertainment and signed a five year actress contract with Parker Wong. That’s how I started."

Source: Anita Chui

Despite Chui’s excitement about being cast by a well-established entertainment company, her mother wasn’t as thrilled initially. With it being Chui’s last year before completing her master’s degree, the prospect of graduating seemed so close – too close to give up.

“She was a little bit shocked because I was doing my second year of master’s degree," remembers Chui. “So that was my last year. So she was thinking if I can finish or complete my master’s degree, but I talked to her because, you know, opportunities arise, and I don’t want to miss anything. So she understands it, and she shows her support."

Chui still positively reminisces on her experience of studying abroad, although she ultimately reached a different outcome than what she initially expected. She feels the education that she received as well as being out of her comfort zone and so far away from home helped develop her as a person.

“To be able to survive in a foreign environment, you have to be strong," says Chui. “And what I said [to myself] is to be independent, to be a responsible person. So all of these summed up together will get you a better career development."

Breaking into the film industry

While there is some gender disparity still evident throughout the film industry, Chui believes it is changing for the better. She believes that not only are female roles increasing in availability and diversity, but they are becoming more valued. “I realized that the filmmakers have remade some classic movies with all-female casts in the past [few] years, like ‘Ghostbusters,’ Ocean’s 11,'" Chui points out. “I’m happy to see the industry’s changing."

And, she believes that this doesn’t apply just to Hollywood but to Asia, too.

“I had a film in 2016, it’s called ‘The Special Female Force.’ It was a film about six police women. So, obviously it is a women-leading film," she says. “Is it [happening] slower in Asia? I don’t think so. Especially in Hong Kong, they have [an] international vision and mind in the film industry. So, just the world, [it’s] getting better right now."

“So, I think, as a woman I am proud to be in the film industry," says Chui.

Life during the pandemic

Source: Anita Chui

The pandemic has dramatically affected the film industry – from production to release. During the height of the pandemic, Chui filmed “Lockdown," a UK film directed by Bizhan Tong. The film was shot in various places around the world – the UK, US, Italy and Hong Kong. The difficulty of shooting outdoors prompted an increase in the film’s scenes being shot indoors, and social distancing and capacity restrictions meant working with a limited yet multi-talented crew.

Besides having effects on set, the pandemic also affected Chui’s personal and work life. Before the pandemic struck, she had been stunt training for a Hollywood action film in LA. However, as social distancing rules kicked in full gear, the film was postponed, and so was her stunt training. “You have to do face to face training," explains Chui. “It is quite hard to do it on Zoom."

Despite pandemic-related delays, Chui found a way to continue developing herself and her career. Whether through learning new skills or just trying out new things, her evolution as an artist is ongoing. Chui explains that she always aims to stay prepared mentally and physically for any opportunity that might come her way.

Source: Anita Chui

“I went back to Hong Kong, and it [has been] about two and a half years that I haven’t traveled to any countries. So I was a bit depressed at the very beginning," recalls Chui. “But then I caught up with Audrey last year, and she gave me a lot of good advice. And we both agreed that we want to do something in the music industry, and that’s why I signed with a new management."

I’m a big believer in lifelong learning. I never settle for what I currently know and always seek to improve and, you know, improve my current knowledge," she comments. “So by lifelong learning, I mean, you keep learning even though you are in the industry or you’re in a career. So sometimes I will go back to school and keep training because with better skills, you will have a better career."

Keeping fit

Both the mind and body need to be ready for acting, so Chui follows a disciplined keto diet to keep fit. She follows the “One Meal a Day," or OMAD, diet method, meaning she eats one meal daily throughout the week and fasts on the weekends, only drinking water, black coffee or tea. As a keto advocate, Chui has written a book (Chinese language) on the diet and has stuck to this regime diligently for the past two or three years.

“I realized that even though I didn’t do any abs training, my abs [are] still [a] six pack … by losing the belly fat on the top."

Her disciplined eating habits are also accompanied by plenty of exercise. She goes to the gym for one to two hours daily, and her budding music career often means dancing for three to five hours. Chui finds that her disciplined tendencies come to her naturally.

“This [is] kind of my character, I think, my personality," Chui admits. “Because I studied abroad, and I think it shaped me into a more independent person. So that’s why I always have self motivation and self discipline as well."

What’s next for Anita Chui?

Source: Anita Chui

During the pandemic, Chui has looked for other outlets to express her creativity, leading to her current focus on building her music career. She recently released her debut song, “Get It Right," and plans to release an album next year.

Chui currently is taking songwriting lessons and wants to include songs she wrote herself on her next album. The creative nature of her job requires her to keep pulling out ideas.

“The inspiration, I think I get it from everywhere," says Chui. “I mean inspiration is everywhere – from my friends, from the environment, the atmosphere. It just comes to your mind, sometimes."

Chui’s single “Get It Right" is streaming on YouTube and Apple Music.