“Burn it, till exhausted “
People say, the city of Hong Kong likes to hit on young people going after their dreams and speaking up. New and old examples are countless. Since reality is sometimes depressing, (we) can only find positivity from the composing world. In the comic <Tomorrow’s Joe>, the lead Joe Yabuki was facing his final death battle and before that his good friend advised him not to go up onto the ring. He said: “I don’t want to be like those people bored and grumbling but at the same time not totally burning. But I want to burn till it becomes nothing and then leaving behind snow-white ashes… Not the remnants of what’s burnt but snow-white ashes.” Choosing to burn thoroughly is not only in the comic world but also a lot of Hong Kong people including Wang Jia Er (Jackson). For the sake of seeking his dream, he decided to put away the fencing field, which had success in sight. He started from zero, devoting himself to singing and the entertainment career. What’s different is that not only did he not become snow-white ashes but he also became a light with unlimited future. Till today, his Instagram has accumulated more than 6.95 million followers.
Ignition point Becoming the fencing champion of Asia
We often ask when’s the one moment one’s life lights up. But to Wang Jia Er, although he is only of a young age of 23 it isn’t only just [one moment] that his life glistened. Born in an athletic family, his mother is a member of the China gymnastics team, father is a member of the China fencing team and after which he became Hong Kong team’s head coach. Under his parent’s nurturing, Jackson started practicing gymnastics when he was 5 and started practicing fencing since he was 10. He participated in the national games when he was only 12 and won the gold medal. Continuously improving, he achieved the champion title in 2011 at the Asia Youth Fencing tournament and became the Asia Youth Fencing Champion. This is his first light up moment. “Fencing is my most happiest memory. Being an athlete cultivated my desire to win, no matter how tough training was I would press on and make myself improve. I think my parents trained this attitude in me since I was young. Because they were all athletes so this helped me a lot. Actually no matter what occupation, you would need such an attitude.”
Becoming Asia’s number 1 at the age of 17 and climbing up to 11th place in world ranking. In front of Jackson was actually a wide fencing path, but at the same year he decided to start again, going overseas to receive training and starting on another entertainment path. “At that time I entered an university with a scholarship and was preparing for the London Olympics. My parents also felt that their own son was a ‘master of pen and sword’ so they were very glad. But after that I decided to become an artiste to do music. It was a ‘heaven and earth’ decision. Everything started from zero and of course my parents were worried too. But following the motto that you only live life once, I wanted to be true to myself and pursue my dreams. At the end, it doesn’t matter if I succeed or not. The most important thing is the process and the fact that I once worked hard for it”.
Flaming Risk is big but (he) still insists on trying
‘Being true to yourself’ might seem simple but how much determination and courage it required for Wang Jia Er to take the step that was not known to be good or bad. “I think that youngsters should not be restricted by different conditions and not attempt. Nowadays, people don’t dare to do things that come with a big risk but as I said, you only live your life once. So don’t restrict your dreams and as long as you tried, you don’t have to regret.” We say how nice is it to be young, it is because they usually have a burning (passionate) heart. No matter whether it’s Joe Yabuki or Jackson, you only have one chance in life so burn to your heart’s content!
This is also the message that Wang Jia Er’s new hip-hop song <Papillon> wants to convey. Regardless whether it’s composing the melody, writing the lyrics, MV production, costume, hairstyle and even people appearing in the MV, these are all true to what he wants. “This song is totally my personal style, within it all the things were decided together by my team and I. The song name is actually from a movie. It tells about a prisoner that entered prison because he was framed and how his various attempts at escaping prison were unsuccessful. But he tried hard continuously, eventually he got what he wanted and escaped from prison. This story of him searching for freedom inspired me to make this new song, it’s a message I want to express.” He always works casually and though he even became the producer for this new song, but making music to him is always something very casual. “I never had the thinking of making music for the sake of having an album. I only always hoped to make songs so I naturally came up with a new song. Its chorus was also something I thought of while driving. It’s very casual. I would never specially sit down to compose because I think that’s unnatural.”
Natural and casual are characters that Jackson has always stood by. It actually seems like something that comes naturally, but in this present world that likes to over package things, it seems more hard to come by and precious. Also because of this honest and goofy character, it made him popular in variety shows. “Actually this is also a character I enjoy a lot but I don’t want the audience to only remember me as someone comical. I think it’s now time to let others see another side of me. Of course I won’t blame the audience, because before this I did only focus on variety shows. But after this I would put more time on music and acting.” Jackson’s irregular way of responding and realness even made some programs’ staff come up with a Plan B ‘if Wang Jia Er does not cooperate’. “Actually many times it’s just the staff misunderstanding that I’m like that and would to the contrary purposely set up some reactions and dialogues for me. But this is not the real me.”
To ashes Missing Hong Kong’s small shops
Wang Jia Er left Hong Kong since he was 17 for training and after that went to mainland for development, for many years he was not in Hong Kong. But for the sake of taking care of his parents, this filial son already relocated them to the mainland to stay. “I don’t want to reduce the time I spend with them because of work. I only hope that they can live happily.” He, who reminisces about the past, also did not forget about his bunch of fencing teammates cum good friends. “Of course! We meet often. I would look for them when I’m back in Hong Kong and we would also meet when they come to where I’m working.” Even his fencing team uniform is also something he misses. “If I would bring something Hong Kong along with me, it would definitely be my fencing team uniform from the past. I even wore it before when I appeared on TV. I like it very much.” Clothes can be brought along but little shops can’t be. He who grew up in Hong Kong exclaims that every time he comes back to Hong Kong, the shops from the past that he likes are already gone. “When I was young, I studied at the international school near Kowloon Tong Waterloo Road. I really liked patronising this small shop that sells fried noodles and cheese sausages. Now when I think about it, I would miss it too but it’s already gone. This is a memory I miss a lot”.
In the story of <Tomorrow’s Joe>, Joe Yabuki finally defeated his strongest opponent Toru Rikiishi on the final stage and reached the peak as a boxer. But when he went back to sit down at the side ropes, he passed on unknowingly. Though his sitting position at the last moment became a classic scene, but it was like a roller coaster descending quickly from the summit. I asked Jackson if he could choose, would he want to sit an exciting roller coaster or go by peacefully and stably. But if you have seen this interview, I believe you have already guessed his answer. “I want to experience a life like sitting a roller coaster. There’s only one life. Whether happy or not, exciting or not, you only got this chance so why not live it out the way you like it. I think that the roller coaster I’m sitting on now is starting to ascend and I don’t know how high it will climb. It might stop after ascending for a bit or maybe it would climb very high. I still don’t know now and I can only hope that I can rely on half hard work and half luck to fulfil my own dreams.” Because he isn’t afraid of falling, he is able to climb even higher. No matter how high Wang Jia Er’s roller coaster would ascend to eventually, at least he would definitely find this journey exciting and fun.