If you spent so much time and effort working on a skill only to have it criticised, how would you feel?
TVB actress Natalie Tong doesn’t have to wonder — she’s experienced it herself.
In an interview with Sharon Chan — a TVB actress turned YouTube talkshow host — uploaded to YouTube last Friday (Aug 26), Natalie revealed that the week-long acting class she attended in Malaysia had her crying for three days straight.
Said Natalie, 41, on Sharon’s talk show Chi Chat: “On that stage, I basically felt worse than miserable… I never would have thought that my acting was so bad.”
At that point, Natalie already had over a decade of experience as an actress.
She was receiving tutelage from the world-renowned acting instructor Philippe Gaulier in his class in Malaysia. While Philippe held a class there in August 2015, it is unclear if Natalie joined this particular one.
But apart from his skills and acting history, Philippe is also known for being exceptionally harsh to his students, who include other big names like Sacha Baron Cohen and Emma Thompson.
Using his brand of tough love, Philippe, 79, insults the actors and their work until they either break or improve.
“I still remember my first lesson — that week, I cried for three days,” Natalie said, recalling her first impressions of his class.
On the first day, when she tried to present her performance to Philippe, the latter simply told her to leave the stage even before she could perform.
This went on for the entire day, Natalie said, and the second day gave her fresh fears.
“But you have to just go, don’t you? So everyone started to line up to perform again. But as he was helping us perform, he would scold us as well and I felt worse than trash.”
But Natalie also explained that Philippe might have had a reason for his harshness towards her and other actors in their class.
“I think he saw that all of us had our own egos — I also believed that my burden was very big — and wanted to help us shatter that belief. So he ceaselessly and brutally scolded us. I was very upset,” Natalie admitted.
“But truthfully, if you listen to him, believe in his teachings and surpass the hurdle [of him berating you]then he’ll be able to teach you much more.”
On the last day of her class, there were a few strangers there to watch them perform, Natalie said.
Very taken aback, Natalie didn’t understand what was going on.
“At that moment Philippe joined the performance and that was my first time on stage that I heard laughter from the audience. That kind of satisfaction… I was overjoyed.
“So this experience became one of the most important things to have happened to me and it’s affected the life I’ve led since.”