Nana Ou-yang on internet trolls, acting, and the one thing she feels incomplete without

Nana Ou-yang on internet trolls, acting, and the one thing she feels incomplete without

The 16-year-old cellist has been criticised for taking a break from secondary school to pursue her dreams, despite her debut album going platinum


Nana Ou-yang has been slammed by netizens.
Photo: Paul Yeung/SCMP

While most 16-year-old students are busy preparing for their DSEs or thinking about what they want to study at university, Nana Ou-yang has carved a very different path for herself.

At 16, Nana has dropped out of school and is a full-time classical musician and actress.

Nana, from Taiwan, plays cello for six hours every day, and has done it since she was six years old. That dedication led to her being the youngest performer ever to make a solo debut in the National Concert Hall in Taipei, Taiwan, when she was just 12.

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One year later, one of the most famous music schools in the world, The Curtis Institute of Music in the US, offered Nana a full scholarship. She accepted, but after two years at the institution that trained the likes of pianist Lang Lang, Nana last year decided to suspend her studies to pursue one of her other passions: acting.

In the past four years, Nana has starred in four films and one TV series. But her latest appearance in TV series Yes! Mr Fashion sparked fierce debate online about her acting abilities. She faced doubt and hatred, and netizens have called Nana a money-orientated girl who dropped out of school to use her fame and looks to get into acting.

But Nana isn't going to let that stop her.

"I will never stop chasing a career in acting, which is something I enjoy, because of what others say," says Nana.

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"It's the same as learning cello - I wasn't perfect when I started. So I find comments and criticism very normal."

While she won't let the trolls get her down, that doesn't mean she is satisfied with her performances so far.

"Even when I have cello concerts, I make sure I still make time for my acting classes," she says.

And making time for both cello and acting isn't easy when your first album goes platinum. A collection of classical tracks, 15 was released in December and has already sold more than 1 million copies in Asia.

Making time for both cello and acting isn't easy when your first album goes platinum
Photo: Paul Yeung/SCMP

So how does she manage to balance intense filming schedules with her cello commitments?

"I carry my cello everywhere I go to film or whatever," she says. "My life would not be complete without my cello." Nana still owns all four of the cellos she learned on while growing up.

While netizens have been busy commenting on her acting abilities, Nana admits she's a cellist at heart.

She tells Young Post that one of her favourite cellists is 69-year-old David Geringas from Lithuania. At a music festival a few years ago, she was able to listen to Geringas perform live.

"While listening to him perform, life is superb; nothing can bring you down," says Nana.

But while Nana loves listening to cellists, she is keen to update the image of classical music, starting with her own album.

"There is one bonus track which is not a classical piece. Love is Over means a lot to me and is an important track," Nana says. Perhaps it's the family connection - Love is Over is a famous piece by Feifei Ou-yang, Nana's aunt, a renowned Taiwanese singer.

"While I was recording this piece, which talks about romantic relationships, I didn't have lyrics to convey the meaning; I had to rely on the music itself. So I hope I have done it justice," Nana says.

As a world-class cellist grappling with fame and internet trolls, Nana knows what it's like to be under pressure. But she wouldn't have it any other way, and she encourages Young Post readers to be confident and happy when pursuing their dreams. "That's what I tell myself, anyway."

This article appeared in the Young Post print edition as
Don't let the trolls get you down


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