Ninh Duong Lan Ngoc is one of the most popular names in Vietnamese showbiz this year. Born in 1990, this Saigonese actress has played a variety of characters, including a beauty and a villain. “I am a chameleon and can’t be framed to be any one type of character,” Lan Ngoc said.
This year, Lan Ngoc starred in many different productions including Running Man Vietnam, a reality-variety show focusing on games that was a success in Korea and China before being reproduced in Vietnam. In each episode, the cast and guest participate in different games created by the production team. During the show, Lan Ngoc showed her smart and friendly personality, gaining new fans from the audience.
What made you decide to join Chay Đi Cho Chi – Running Man Vietnam? Will you participate if there is season two?
When I accepted the invitation to join Running Man Vietnam, I asked myself many questions because this had been a successful reality/variety show in Korea and China.
I wanted to help spread the show’s reputation in 2019, so that the audience could see the great development of Vietnam’s entertainment industry. The production crew made a version of the show with a Vietnamese imprint and identity so that Vietnamese audiences could connect with a high-quality show that was as good as in other countries.
Myself and the other six members of the cast hope to be invited to continue in season two.
You received five awards for the character Nuong in the movie The Floating Lives. Did you feel any pressure after that?
The Floating Lives was really a big push in my career and helped my name become known to the public. Quickly after that, I received great love and many opportunities opened up. However, that was also a period when I was in crisis with my own success. Nuong’s shadow was too big. I found myself framed and compared to Nuong when I appeared in other movies.
If you are an experienced person, you know how to surpass your previous success. However, for a 19-year-old girl who had just entered the industry, it was a big challenge. At that time, there was no one to instruct me, so I had to find my own way. There were failures, grief and I had to pay for my mistakes. However, they were all great lessons for me to grow.
How did you overcome these pressures?
To be honest, there were days when I didn’t even want to open my eyes because I knew billions of questions would appear in my head such as ‘What should I do to make the audience accept me? How do I live with my career and have a good role in a movie?’ I used to be depressed when I could not answer these questions. I decided to give up everything and return to my normal life for four years. During that time, I was fortunate to regain my spirit and joy of life. When I finally stabilized, I asked myself: “Is it true that I don’t like being an actress?” I honestly faced my fears and found I was still very passionate about acting.
I returned to my work being “slow but sure.” I knew my strengths and weaknesses and could maximize my abilities. I think anyone else might experience moments like I did, doubting and putting themselves in a hopeless impasse. When you are in that situation, just be honest with yourself to really know what you need and what to choose for a better future.
What is the biggest challenge for an actor? How do you overcome those difficulties?
The biggest challenge is how not to turn yourself into a “vapid” person. Vapid can be understood as not knowing how to change, break limits and explore new things. I always choose screenplays that have changes compared to my previous films. This way the audience does not see the image of a one-colour Ninh Duong Lan Ngoc. When deciding to be a “colourful” person, you need to be careful to avoid losing yourself in your own ambitions.
I always try to keep the love and appreciation of an audience. Showbiz is full of drama. It is hard to keep your mind and soul from being influenced by the extreme changes in life.
I cannot do everything just because of fame. I don’t like to compete and I have never thought that I need to be better than anyone or have to do bad things in order to win a role in a movie. What I care about is recognition from my fans.
What are the most memorable awards of your acting career?
Receiving the Golden Kite Award at the age of 20 was the best memory of my life. Looking back on the journey, I feel quite fortunate to have started my acting career with an impressive role. My acting ability was acknowledged very early. That was the foundation for me to develop and receive many invitations as well as valuable opportunities later.
Thanks to The Floating Lives, I was fortunate to receive the first award in my career. I still vividly remember the moment when I was called on the stage and I was too nervous to speak.
The role Cam, in Tam Cam: The Untold, a villain was also a new experience. I found myself quite immature then. I couldn’t really portray the character Cam as I had expected. In the future, I hope for a “slightly bad” role so that I can explore and exploit many different aspects of myself.
Most recently, the role of Nha Linh in the movie Cua Lai Vo Bau helped me understand what it feels like to be “a-hundred-billion” lady [the total box office revenue of the movie was 191,8 billion VND]. I was really happy seeing the work of the entire crew welcomed by the audience. Being a part of that success brought me many different emotions. This is the motivation for me to try harder in future roles so as not to disappoint my fans.
Your characters have been very diverse, from innocent, kind, and keen, to villainous. Why?
That is my acting career growing-up journey. I was given a kind face and a simple and pure personality, so it’s no surprise when I play a gentle character. However, switching into a character who has a mean, evil personality under a kind and graceful appearance is what I need to learn and show on set when playing different characters.
You cannot live your whole life with a certain kind of role, it will kill your own ability. Every option has its own good and bad sides. But when we choose things from outside of our comfort zone, it’s also the time for us to give ourselves a chance to explore new things.
The character Nuong in The Floating Lives is too big in my acting career. I understand that first roles always leave deep impressions, and to overcome those impressions, we need to be more special. So I spent time searching and exploiting my other angles to bring new things to the audience. Fortunately, I have found suitable opportunities that help leave different impressions on the audience.
I have played a naive 16-year-old girl in The Floating Lives, a hard done mother in Win The Lottery, and an arrogant young lady in Tam Cam – The Untold and The Taylor. I was an assassin in Red Gloves and this year, audiences will meet a sharp Miss Q, mature Nha Linh or innocent An Chi. I feel like a chameleon and am not framed by any of these roles.
You once said that you lost confidence because you went through many casting calls but did not get any roles. You thought that opportunities are not for new people. Now that you’ve succeeded, how has your mind changed? Do you have any advice for young people?
The common feeling of a young person, who has not had much experience, is always to be discouraged when being refused. Looking back at that time, I feel that it was totally normal and happens because of different reasons.
Now, whenever facing any challenge or role, I always ask myself, “Why do they have to choose me?” I think this is a question that young people should ask themselves. If you can answer it, you already have made 60 to 70 per cent of the opportunity for yourself.
My advice is just try when you’re still young. If you do it wrong, then try again. Fix it when you make mistakes. The important thing is that you really want to change.
You have never been public about your love life. Why? And what is your love motto?
Working in this field, I know the audience is always curious about the personal life of their idols. What they do, where they are and who they love are some of the topics that fans are especially interested in. But I will only talk about my love when it comes to the wedding. At the moment, I just want to share about my work and life.
My love motto is: Let me keep it for myself!
Everything in 2019 seems to be going smoothly for you. What are your plans for 2020?
In early 2020, the audience will meet Miss Q again in the third part of the movie Gai Gia Lam Chieu (which means a tricky lady in English) and I will participate in many advertising events. I am preparing for good health to get through this workload.
Do you want to send some greetings to your fans in Canada and abroad?
I would like to express my deep gratitude to the audiences who follow me in Canada and overseas in general. I would like to thank them for supporting and encouraging me during my career journey. I am lucky and grateful that I’ve never felt lonely because I always have people around. Every gift, every wish in the morning or every reminder to keep good health when I am sick, all are the precious feelings that everyone has given me. I’m really grateful.
It would be clichéd if I only said thank you and accepted all the love and care from everyone. My team and I are working on a gift for the audience to celebrate my 10th year in the field. I hope everyone will like and welcome it.
Photos courtesy by Ninh Duong Lan Ngoc.
This post is also available in: Tiếng Việt