Citation: Andy LAU Tak Wah, Doctor of Letters, honoris causa
A citation written by Dr. WONG Chung Ming, translated by Dr. KUNG Chi Keung, and delivered by Professor LEUNG Tin Wai
Throughout Mainland China, Hong Kong, Taiwan and the global Chinese communities, who would not recognize the name “Andy LAU Tak Wah”? It is certainly a name that needs no further introduction. He is known by many special titles reflecting the veneration he has from the public for his outstanding accomplishments in the performing arts, including “Heavenly King of Asia”, “Heavenly King of a Generation” and “Hua Shen”. His low-key, modest, friendly and approachable personality has endeared him to millions of fans and ordinary folks alike, who also consider him to be a “heartthrob” and the “unofficial Chief Executive of the SAR”. Mr. LAU takes all the accolades and compliments bestowed upon him with equanimity, saying: “Life isn’t always smooth sailing, but we can always live with integrity and a clear, determined heart.” This is Mr. LAU’s motto, often quoted by others, and through it he encourages people to follow their hearts in every endeavor, to work hard and with dedication to accomplish their goals, so that they will never look back with regret.
Born in Tai Po into a family of modest means, Mr. LAU is truly a quintessential native son of Hong Kong. After completing his first semester in Form 6, he enrolled in TVB’s Artiste Training Course, heralding the beginning of his more than 30-year career as a performing artist and presaging the efforts he would make thereafter to assemble the “mosaic pieces” of his life.
Mr. LAU loves to use the term “mosaic pieces”.
Earlier this year, Mr. LAU sustained serious injuries in an accident during a commercial shoot, in which he was thrown from a horse. Yet only six months later, he had already returned to work. During the Beijing press conference for the promotion of his new film, The Adventurers, which he both produced and stars in, he said, “My life is a mosaic with many pieces and this film is one of them; without it my life would not be complete.” There are actually two major mosaic pieces in Mr. LAU’s life: acting and singing. The other is his charity work. A film is only one of the tiny mosaic pieces; and it demands strenuous, ongoing effort to put all the tiny pieces together before a bigger, brighter mosaic is formed. For Mr. LAU, there is never any doubt that he will press on until the mosaic is complete.
The First Mosaic Piece: Film Career
As of today, Mr. LAU has starred in 22 TV series and 160 films. Since 1991, he has invested in over 30 films and two TV series. His first TV series after joining TVB in
1981 was Till We Meet Again and his last was Thief of Time in 1992. He made his film debut with a cameo appearance in Director NG Siu Wan’s Once Upon a Rainbow. The first film in which Mr. LAU was given a major role was Boat People (1982), directed by
Ann HUI. A year later he played his first leading role in Director FOK Yiu Leung’s action drama Rail Out of Order (On the Wrong Track). Mr. LAU was nominated for the first time for Best Actor at the 8th Hong Kong Film Awards for his performance in As Tears Go By (1988). Sixteen of his films were screened in cinemas in 1989 alone, marking that year as his most prolific in terms of film output. Made in Hong Kong (1997), an independent film in which he invested and produced, won Best Film at the 17th Hong Kong Film Awards. For his brilliant performance in Running Out of Time (1999), he won Best Actor for the first time at the 19th Hong Kong Film Awards. A Simple Life (2011) again won him Best Actor in both the Taipei Golden Horse Film Festival and Hong Kong Film Awards. Blind Detective (2013), a crime thriller cum romantic-comedy directed by Johnnie TO, earned Mr. LAU the Best Actor Award at the Sitges Film Festival in Spain. It was his first ever international honour in that category.
The glittering list of achievements he has garnered over the years points to Mr. LAU’s phenomenal successes in both art house films and commercial films. Indeed, it is not only his outstanding acting talents that have catapulted him to stardom, but also his determination and his dedication to making the most of the opportunities life offered to him.
Mr. LAU is also notable for his active support of emerging talent in the film industry.
In 2005, he launched the project “FOCUS: First Cuts”, producing the film Crazy Stone, which was directed by the young mainland film director NING Hao. The film proved to be a huge box-office success, and served as a model to the movie industry, turning its attention to the importance of implementing mentoring programs to groom new talents.
Throughout the years, Mr. LAU has also lent his support to preserve and promote the legacy of Chinese traditional and contemporary art forms. His dedication is shown through his funding of efforts to preserve a valuable archive containing the complete repertoire of Cantonese operas by HUNG Sin Niu, as well as his support of the local production of “Unforgettable Era” by a new generation of Hong Kong’s theatrical and performing groups, among many other initiatives.
The Second Mosaic Piece: Singing Career
Mr. LAU’s debut album, Just Know I Only Love You, was not a big hit, but with his characteristic indomitable spirit, hard work and perseverance, he pressed on singing both Cantonese and Mandarin songs, to become a major music star. As of 2010, he had already released over 50 special albums, and for over a decade, from the 1990s till the early 2000s, he remained at the pinnacle of his singing career. In the mid to late 2000s, his recording career was less hectic, but his records still sold briskly, and by the new millennium their total sales had exceeded 48 million copies, outshining his fellow Chinese singers. Over the past 30 years, he has given nearly 500 concerts, with each attended by a large audience of at least 10,000, earning him the honour of being the most popular contemporary Chinese singer.
Mr. LAU is also a talented lyricist, and one of the songs he penned, Xingan baobei (“The Heart and Liver are Precious”), was the theme song for China’s Hepatitis Prevention and Control Publicity Campaign in 2006—Resistance to Hepatitis B. To date, he has contributed to lyrics for over 150 songs, the majority of which are his solo compositions across a wide range of styles. His accomplishments as a lyricist clearly demonstrate the impressive level of his writing and literary understanding.
The Third Mosaic Piece: Charity Work
Mr. LAU is a devout Buddhist. With the heart of a merciful Bodhisattva, he has quietly been involved in important charity work over the years, much of which is little known to the public. What has been known, however, are the many charity concerts and relief fund-raising campaigns he has supported or initiated for the victims of a string of devastating natural disasters, including the Huadong floods in eastern China (1991); the Inner Mongolia snow blizzard (2001); the Indian Ocean tsunami (2004); the Wenchuan, Sichuan earthquake (2008); the floods in Taiwan (2009); the Yushu, Qinghai earthquake (2010); and Japan’s earthquake and tsunami (2011). He has also served as a good-will ambassador for various organizations and made a number of charity promotional videos, such as World AIDS Day — Love Under the Sun”, “White Bars Love Blind Action”, and “Product Identification, Authentication and Tracking System (PIATS)” to promote product safety.
In 1994 Mr. LAU founded the Andy LAU Charity Foundation Limited, with the goal of providing assistance to the underprivileged and people in need. He is particularly concerned about those suffering from physical disabilities. His 2007 inspirational music video, Everyone Is No. 1, which he shot over three days on a budget of HK$ 1.5 million paid for out of his own pocket, is used to motivate people with physical disabilities to live courageously and work hard. Mr. LAU later served as Vice Chairman of the China Foundation for Disabled Persons, and is currently Vice President of the Hong Kong Paralympic Committee & Sports Association for the Physically Disabled (HKPC & SAPD), continuing his efforts towards supporting physically disabled persons. In recognition of his contributions, Mr. LAU was awarded Hong Kong SAR’s Medal of Honour and Bronze Bauhinia Star, and was appointed Non-official Justice of the Peace by the government.
These three major mosaic pieces, his acting and singing careers, and his charity work through which he wishes to give back to society, make up a large part of the brilliant mosaic of Mr. LAU’s life. But there are other smaller pieces in this mosaic, including his love of calligraphy. His calligraphy is frequently featured on film posters. His calligraphic inscription also graces local public spaces. These tiny mosaic pieces together make Andy LAU the person we know and honour today. Ultimately, what most contributes to his zeal and dedication in his professional and charity work and his support of art, is his vibrant, indefatigable spirit, earning him such affectionate nicknames as “Niuhua” (as hardworking as an ox), “Laomo” (a role model of industriousness) and even “Superman”. Whether facing difficulties in life or challenges in career, Mr. LAU never stops fighting to attain his goals. Indeed, the indomitable spirit he shows has much to do with his devout Buddhist faith. Acquiring the Buddhist title of “Huiguo”, he is diligent in his practice; and thus his life and career reflect the fruits of this devotion.
One of Mr. LAU’s favourite Buddhist verses is: “Hell is all around us when we have the mind for evil; paradise is everywhere when we have the mind for kindness.” Another is: “Future happiness is cultivated in the present moment.” Both are sayings filled with wisdom. He himself has also made the following observation: “Life is a battle, and we are heavenly warriors who put on our armour and head out into the battlefield. When enemies approach, we fight back, rolling with the punches. When we get injured, we find a corner where we can tend to our wounds and then head right back into battle. Eventually, we become habituated to battle injuries, and they no longer can wound us.” He also has this advice for young people: “How wonderful youth is! One can hold one’s head high with pride and charge on courageously without hesitation. Young people can achieve whatever they set out to do, and when they look back it will be without regrets, without any sense of having wasted their youth.”
Professor HU, for his prodigious artistic achievements and contributions to Hong Kong, as well as his positive impact on generations of Hong Kong people, I take great honour in presenting to you Mr. Andy LAU Tak Wah for the award of the degree of Doctor of Letters, honoris causa.