The New Paper
Aug 20, 2016
As a struggling young actor in the UK about 25 years ago, Adrian Pang once found himself extremely broke.
"I remember looking at my bank balance - which was bad enough that I might be kicked out of my apartment - wondering how I was going to pay my rent and feed myself. And I just burst into tears," he told The New Paper at the press conference for DBS Bank's online miniseries Sparks on Thursday.
"It was also the middle of winter, the worst time to be jobless."
These days, Pang, 50, is no longer left out in the cold.
The co-artistic director of local theatre company Pangdemonium, which he founded and runs with his wife Tracie, is grateful they can provide for their sons Zachary, 17, and Xander, 16.
Having lived hand-to-mouth in the past, Pang never takes his financial security for granted and is cautious about spending.
"You're never going to get rich in the arts. I feel like I spend half my time offstage begging for sponsorship. I'm like a professional beggar," he joked.
"But Pangdemonium has survived for six years and is doing all right."
Launched in February this year and with four episodes released on YouTube so far, Sparks is inspired by true stories of DBS clients. The latest episode will premiere on Sept 11.
Hong Kong actress Jamie Ha stars as Claire, a relationship manager who takes cocky rookie Jasper (British-Chinese singer James Yang) under her wing. Pang plays Chester Teo, their strict boss who keeps his employees on their toes.
"It was fun to put on a fetching vest and tell people off, but in real life, Tracie is my boss," he said cheekily.
"I'm not good with numbers but she has both artistic and business sense. I would be lost without her."
Pang candidly admitted that starring in an overt DBS commercial series is not usually his style.Companies have approached him to endorse their products, but he has declined to promote things he does not believe in.
"Having to smile and speak to the media about products I don't care about makes me feel like a fraud... Like I have to go home and take a long shower afterwards," he said.
But working with DBS for Sparks was different, as he was intrigued by the real-life stories dramatised in the script.
The first three episodes are inspired by local sustainable energy company Sunseap Leasing, which DBS helped secure a loan when backing a solar energy start-up was considered risky.
Pang sees Sparks as not just a commercial series, but an example of good storytelling about real people with baggage.
He said: "We're like a team of superheroes, coming in to save the day, and I'm like Nick Fury (S.H.I.E.L.D. leader who spearheads The Avengers project in Marvel comics and movies).
"The production value is also higher than some of the series I've been in."
Pang also joked about reaping the benefits of working with DBS, which has sponsored his theatre productions, including upcoming musical Rent.
"If, God forbid, I ever find myself in dire straits, I have (DBS) on speed dial."
This article was first published on August 20, 2016.
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