Kay Tong thanks HBO for faith in local actors

Veteran actor draws attention to talent here after winning best supporting actor prize at Asian Television Awards

Veteran home-grown actor Lim Kay Tong leveraged on his latest award win to draw regional attention to the Singapore media industry.

The 61-year-old, who was named Best Actor In A Supporting Role at the Asian Television Awards on Thursday night, thanked HBO, a global company, for using Singaporean resources.

Referring to HBO Asia's original drama series Grace, the show for which he won the award, he said in his acceptance speech: "While HBO, being an international company, has assembled people from the United States, Taiwan and Australia for Grace, the bulk of this drama's cast and crew are Singaporeans. I thank HBO for putting its faith in us."

In the supernatural drama, he plays a fortune-teller who crosses paths with a troubled Singaporean family. The four-part miniseries, which was shot here, included local actresses Pamelyn Chee and Constance Song, Chinese- American actor Russell Wong and British actor George Young.

After the event at Suntec Convention Centre, Lim reiterated his sentiments to reporters backstage, pointing to the pool of media talent here.

"We have a lot of crew here who, in my opinion, are of international standard," he said. "But they don't get the opportunity to show their skills, except in independent movies and so forth.

"So I was really gratified to HBO for having the trust to use a crew and team that were mostly from Singapore, and I think it has paid off. The show was nominated for eight awards, which shows the quality of the project."

He added: "Possibly, this shows the potential of the future, where there will be more Singapore-based projects with Singapore talents."

Although he was the only Singaporean to take home an acting award, he was not discouraged.

He said: "With this awards show, there is a lot of competition. There are actors from China, Japan and Thailand, where the TV industries are more developed. So naturally, the actors are more developed too.

"In fact, I'd say that most of the Asian region has had a headstart, so our local actors definitely have some catching up to do. But it's a good thing. This will push our actors to continue improving their skills so that they can compete with the big guns."

Some of the Singaporeans who went home empty-handed included Pierre Png (Zero Calling 2) who lost the Best Actor In A Leading Role award to China's Zhang Jiayi (Forty-nine Days Memory) and Felicia Chin (Love Is Love - Sunshine), who lost Best Actress In A Leading Role to China's A-lister Zhou Xun (Red Sorghum).

Thai actress Nusba Punnakanta took the award for Best Actress In A Supporting Role for drama The Secret Truth, while Hong Kong's Ivana Wong won Best Comedy Performance for her role in TVB comedy Come On, Cousin.

Hit South Korean TV drama An Incomplete Life was named Best Drama Series and popular reality TV talent show Asia's Got Talent - a spin-off of the United Kingdom show - nabbed the award for Best Adaptation Of An Existing Format.

Now in its 20th year, the Asian Television Awards is an annual event that honours excellence in production and performance in TV broadcasting across Asia.

This is the first year that the awards event was held over two nights.

The technical awards were handed out on Wednesday and the major performance prizes were announced on Thursday.

In total, awards in 40 categories were given out. Winners were judged by a panel of 63 industry professionals from across Asia, including Singapore, Malaysia, China and the Philippines.

• Follow Yip Wai Yee on Twitter @STyipwaiyee

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 05, 2015, with the headline 'Kay Tong thanks HBO for faith in local actors'. Print Edition | Subscribe