Aki is from Pingtung, Taiwan. Her artistic journey began at a young age when she learned to play the piano and paint, inspired by the artistic interests of her grandmothers and her mother. Aki’s theatre experience includes the role of Jill in Equus (Spring Wind Theatre), Min-min in A World that is Ignored《看不見的視界》(68 Theatre), and theatre for children with Happy Bird Story Theatre.
What were you doing before coming to ITI, and how did you decide to come here?
I was working as a freelance theatre actor, stage manager and primary school teacher.
In 2017, [then-Head of Acting] Beto and [alumna] Melissa Leung went to Taipei and held a workshop which I took part in. That’s how I found out about ITI.
In that time, I had lost my direction in my career. I had never gone to any drama school before, so my acting was bad, and without any connections to theatre people from drama schools, it was hard for me to get acting jobs.
I really wanted to learn acting with a master or go to a drama school. Then I met Beto and I liked the technique he taught in the workshop, and I knew that was what I wanted. So I sent in my application.
Think back to your first day here: do you remember how you felt then?
I was super nervous and excited and anxious. I was worried that my English was too poor for me to understand the lessons; worried that my ability was too bad to follow everyone, because everyone looked so smart and talented except me.
What is it like to train here at ITI?
It’s like 砍掉重練 (Taiwanese internet slang which literally means “knock something down and rebuild it”. A similar English phrase is “back to square one”). I needed to take away my old habits, ego and thoughts, and become innocent again. Accept the new things and try to practise them. After a while, select the ideas or knowledge that is useful for me, rethink my previous knowledge and combine them together. This knockdown and rebuilding hasn’t finished, but it’s still processing.
I also feel it’s like “survival of the fittest”. The training here is hard. It not only rebuilds our physical and acting technique, but also rebuilds our minds. If we can survive and overcome the ordeals we faced, then I believe we can be like phoenixes that are reborn from the fire.
What have you learnt from working with your classmates from different countries?
Everyone’s culture and way of thinking is different and worth learning about. It's been a wonderful opportunity for me to take some things that I think are good for me and can change my life for the better. But I’ve also noticed some things that are not ok for me, and try to recognise those and learn how to respect them.
The training here is hard. It not only rebuilds our physical and acting technique, but also rebuilds our minds. If we can survive and overcome the ordeals we faced, then I believe we can be like phoenixes that are reborn from the fire.
What’s one of the memorable experiences you’ve had at ITI?
One of our voice presentations in Year 2, where the task was vocal characterisations. I presented a fairy tale, The Wolf and the Seven Young Goats, using different vocal qualities to show different roles. I had a lot of fun in that presentation. That was the first time I really enjoyed performing. Not worried too much about my English articulations and acting skills. Not stressed about criticism. I just enjoyed telling and sharing the story. I really had fun being the roles, and also enjoyed the audience’s smiley faces and had a good connection with them.
Do you have plans for after graduation?
Theatre teaching. I’d like to work with my friends who are theatre producers, visual artists, musicians and occupational therapists. We have a vision, which is to help underprivileged people by using art to help them to organise their communities or rebuild their confidence, and so on. And I would like to study art therapy in the future if I have a chance.
What would you say to a new student or someone thinking of joining ITI?
Enjoy every moment.
Try hard, but don’t work too hard.
Don’t let go too soon, but don’t hang on too long.
Is there anyone you’d like to thank?
I truly appreciate my parents’ support. And love to all my friends.
Also thank you to Sasi, Beto, Simon, Chin Huat and all the teachers at ITI.
Photos by Bernie Ng