Actress Lan Phuong is not only known for her work on the theatre stage – she's also active in community projects. She has joined many international cultural exchange programmes and was the VIP guest at the American consulate for their International Visitor Leadership Programme in 2011.
The actress was interviewed by Culture Vulture about her work.
As an emerging artist, what have you achieved in the field of the performing arts?
Since then I have been working as a full time actress. I appear in television series and on the theatrical stage, and sometimes I do dancing shows. I won an award for the best actress in 2009.
I have experience in working with foreign directors from Japan, America and Austria, and I have learned a lot from them. I'm the first actress to do some plays in English in HCM City.
You attended the Ship for South-East Asian Youth Programme in 2009 with a presentation about cross-cultural understanding. How was this important for an artist such as yourself?
When I talked about cross-cultural understanding, I talked about how to get along in different cultures and religions and how to live happily and peacefully together. As an artist, an open-mind is very important. An actor has to deal with many types of characters which have many different backgrounds. Being knowledgeable and being open to the differences helps actors to have a better and easier way to access the character's heart and mind.
One of my passions is to explore new cultures and experience different lifestyles, that's why I joined that programme, which means I missed out on many good chances for work in my career to pursue that dream.
The more I go out into the world, the more I grow up. The way I look at the world changes as my mind is open, my eyes want to see more new things, and I want to reach higher and further.
If I just chose to be an actress only working and seeing things in Viet Nam, my mind and my heart couldn't have been open like this.
Last year, you came to the US at the invitation of the US Consulate General in HCM City as part of the Promoting Social Change Through the Arts programme. Could you tell us about the trip?
When I joined the trip to the US, I learned about how Americans use the arts to change society. They have a lot of arts projects for the community. Art is the easiest way to help people to come closer together and to help people to have confidence in themselves to do things beyond what they think they can do. Lots of projects are for the children, because they are the generation who can change society in the future. Many of them come from poor families and it's easy for them to stray and become involved in crime. Working in the arts, such as music, graffiti, hip-hop or acting, can help them gain confidence and change what they think about themselves and society, and therefore they can do something better for their lives.
What did you do to introduce Vietnamese culture to international friends at the events you attended?
Whenever I leave Viet Nam, I make friends with a sincere heart. That's a very good way to introduce Viet Nam to people who know almost nothing about the country. During many the conversations I have, I try to share a little about our culture and of course we hare pictures and souvenirs to exchange. I was involved in some performances in which I sang and danced Vietnamese folk dances and they all loved it. I introduced Vietnamese food, and I helped my friend in Brunei to open a real pho restaurant, which is on of the best ways to introduce Vietnamese cuisine and culture.
You are now working on the Promoting Social Change Through the Arts project. Can you tell us more about it?
After the US trip, I had a plan to help children living in difficult circumstances. I wanted to stage a play in which the children will tell their own stories. I used teach poor children to act, and I love them, I really want to do something for them.
I remember a boy from my acting class who was always a rebel, he was naughty, saying bad words, biting his friends, but after my class, he became like a gentleman, he spoke in a nicer way and calmed down a lot. It really surprised me. That's why I have more motivation to do this project.
But now I'm quite busy with my career so it will be hard to carry on with my project, but I'm working on it, I need a detailed plan and then I will find a sponsor. I'm very positive about it, the only matter is finding the time. But once I really want it, I can do it. — VNS