Stephanie Ho, a 24-year-old singer and TVB actress, posted a photo on her Instagram a few weeks ago, thanking her family and friends for their support of her career choices, and announcing the release date – which was last week – of her second album, Lost in Love. She also talked about what it was like to have months of work without pay and why she’s not all that fond of shooting dramas.
Ho first appeared on television in 2009 on The Voice, a local singing contest. She was 16 years old, and still studying at Sha Tin College. Though there was a lot of support for Ho, she failed to enter the final stages, and left the show – but thanks to her popularity with the public, she managed to wedge a foot into the showbiz door.
Ho isn’t just musically talented – she’s a former Hong Kong Ladies Champion golfer, too. But when she had to choose between golf and a career in performing, she decided to leave the former behind.
“I started to learn [how to play] golf when I was six. I thought, when I was younger, that I would end up teaching golf for the rest of my life. It would give me a steady income. My parents, too, thought that would be what I’d end up doing,” says Ho.
Getting on to The Voice changed everything. “I was still studying at Sha Tin College, but [The Voice] convinced me that singing is where my heart truly lies.”
This newly awakened desire had a negative effect on her schoolwork though. “In my final year of high school, I struggled to balance my academic studies and singing career. My parents asked if I could complete home-schooling. So I spent my last year of high school at home doing my A-levels.”
It seemed to work – and with her A-level results in hand, Ho opted to study hotel and tourism management at Hong Kong Polytechnic University in 2011.
During her final year at university, Ho suspended her studies, as her acting career began to really take off.
“I had landed a great role in [TVB drama] Gilded Chopsticks, and the number of viewers that it drew meant that I was getting more exposure and was being offered more commercial activities,” Ho explains. “It was impossible for me to handle a [quickly developing] singing career and university study at the same time.”
Cantopop singer and jewellery designer Jill Vidal teams up with Eden Ministry to help victims of human trafficking
After Gilded Chopsticks, Stephanie went on to star in other TVB dramas, including Raising The Bar (starring Grace Chan, Jeannie Chan and Moon Lau). Though Ho’s current fame is down to her acting career, she says that the actual process of filming a drama isn’t one that she particularly enjoys.
“Shooting a drama is tough,” Ho wrote in the same Instagram post announcing the release date for Lost in Love, adding that even when she had the time, she“couldn’t hang out with my friends because I wasn’t getting paid for months. If I’m unable to find a stable source of income, I think my decision to pursue music will worry my parents.”
Ho’s parents need not have worried – it seems like all her hard work has finally paid off. Three years after her first album dropped, Ho is releasing her second. And although filming TV shows can be exhausting, Ho sees it as the path she has to take as she strives to achieve her ultimate goal.
“If shooting a drama [makes me more famous] and helps to make my dream of being a famous singer a reality, then it’s worth it, no matter how harsh or tough it is.”
Lost in Love is available now