Born in Hong Kong, UK-based actor Gabby Wong found her current career path kind of by accident. Recently featuring in the highly-anticipated epic horror series ‘1899’ on Netflix, Gabby is no stranger to epics with credits in everything from Rogue One: A Star Wars Story to the BBC4 series ‘Unprecedented’. Here she takes us through a day in the life.
Did you always want to be an actor?
This path came to me by accident, it wasn’t considered a viable career to my very academic family. I joined the student theatre at university by chance and ended up getting very involved.
In college, I studied… Politics with Economics; I had envisaged a career in journalism at the time. I then went on to train as an actor at Italia Conti in London.
My most formative work experience was… my first season with The Royal Shakespeare Company. It was long days and weeks for a whole year doing multiple plays in repertory, as well as doing workshops for new writing. It was non-stop and the most intense training.
My first real acting job was… in a production of Othello at Shakespeare’s Globe which happened in my final term at drama school, so I was juggling a graduation showcase alongside that job.
The most invaluable thing I learned early on in my career was… that there will be a surge then rest, surge then rest. Rest well and your surges will peak.
A common misconception about what I do is… that it’s all glamorous and Hollywood. Trust me, it really isn’t.
My main responsibility in work is to… tell the story as truthfully as possible.
Do you have a career mentor or someone you look up to/seek advice from?
There have been many many greats before me that I look up to but I have found my peers to be the greatest support network, especially the BESEA (Britain’s East and South East Asian Network) community. Everyone in the community is striving for authentic representation of our diaspora instead of tokenism. We’ve come a long way since the start of my career but there is still so much to do.
The biggest risk I have taken in my career so far is… becoming more selective with projects that I get involved in. Of course, I want to do everything, but I have learnt to say no. I have to take my family life into consideration as well as how a project would excite me.
I wake at… around 6:30am most mornings, this gives me time to get ready for the day before I get my toddler up at 7:30am.
The first thing I do every morning is… stretch. A quick 10 minutes loosening the body wakes you up quicker than caffeine.
My morning routine is… stretch, coffee, get dressed and ready before I get my toddler up, feed everyone and do the nursery drop-off before I start my work day. That is unless my pick-up to set is earlier than that.
I can’t go to work without… listening to some music, currently, I have Ishmael Ensemble on loop.
I travel to work by… any means necessary because no 2 days are the same.
The first thing I do at work is… make sure I’ve said hello to everyone, it’s all about teamwork.
The most useful business tool I use every day is… my smartphone; I record self-tapes, do my accounts, keep in touch with my agent all on there.
I save time by… planning ahead.
I rarely get through my working day without… snacking, you will always find a pack of nuts in my bag.
The best part of my day is… coming home to my family. Sometimes it can be way past everyone’s bedtime but to know they are there gives me such a sense of belonging.
I know it’s been a good day if… my agent and I plan a ‘meeting’ in town, it usually means we have something to celebrate.
I switch off from work by… 5:30pm if I am working from home, because I have to pick my son up from nursery.
Before I go to bed, I… stretch again. Get those last wiggles out before sinking into sleep.
I often prepare for tomorrow by… making a list of things I need to do and laying out my outfit for the following day.
The accomplishments I’m most proud of are… the friendships I’ve formed along the way. My birthday guest list reads like my CV; there has always been at least one person on any job that will remain in my life even after that job has ended.
If you want to get into my line of work, my advice is to… find the best working relationship with an agent. I love mine, she is the longest and healthiest relationship I’ve ever had because we communicate and check in with each other.
I’ve just finished working on… Season 1 of 1899 has just been released on Netflix, of which I am part of the main ensemble cast. I also just wrapped on another Netflix series Kaos written by the brilliant Charlie Covell and directed by the equally brilliant Georgi Banks-Davies and Runyararo Mapfumo. At the moment I’m working on the second draft of a script that has been in development with a production company.
Photo credits: Photography by David Reiss, styling by Harriet Byczok, makeup by Snowkei Lan