At the peak of her acting career, she gave it all up because her family needed her. 15 years after bowing out of showbiz, former Hong Kong actress Gigi Lai opened up on why she made this decision in a recent interview, A Date with Lu Yu.
“In my opinion, it’s not anything noble,” the 51-year-old said.
“I don’t feel like I made a sacrifice. Sometimes I’m tired but I enjoy the process of taking care of them. Keeping my family together is important to me.”
In 2007, Gigi’s younger brother Stephen, a dermatologist, was nearly killed in a traffic accident.
He fell into a three-month-long coma and she was concerned about his well-being when he regained consciousness.
“His skincare business was his baby. If it closed down, he wouldn’t have anything to look forward to in life. I had to keep him motivated,” she explained.
That led her to give up her flourishing career at TVB in 2008 and take over the reins at Stephen’s skincare clinic.
During his recovery, she discussed business operations with him on a daily basis as she believed it gave him passion and drive in life.
Going with the flow
Gigi joined the entertainment industry at the tender age of 14 to help support her family after they fell on hard times.
While others her age were schooling and chasing after their dreams, she confesses that she occasionally felt sad about her circumstances.
“But I accepted reality and focused on doing my best in whichever path I had taken.”
And her hard work bore fruit — she is best known for her roles in action film Young and Dangerous (1996), television dramas War and Beauty (2004), and The Dance of Passion (2006). She also received the Best Actress Award at the TVB 37th Anniversary Awards in 2004.
She also helped to put her brother through school in England.
And when her family needed help after Stephen’s accident years later, she did not hesitate to give a hand in running his business.
Did Gigi ever feel that she had to put her own life on hold for her family’s sake?
No, she said, “I had a busy life with little rest, and I didn’t give much thought to what I wanted.”
“My only wish was to become a wife and a mother because I love children. I wasn’t particular about other things.”
Over a decade later, Stephen’s skincare business is doing well and things have stabilised at home, so Gigi’s parents have told her that she should follow her dreams and that they would take care of her brother.
But Gigi, who has three daughters husband Patrick Ma, is sanguine about the changes in her life.
“Life is like water – it belongs to whatever body of water it flows into, be it the river, lake or sea,” she said.