Teen actor, Ivan Lo, on learning dialects: Never be afraid!

by | May 2, 2019 | Cantonese, Celebrity + Interviews, Teochew

Celebrity Interview with Ivan Lo, 卢楷浚

Barely 16 years old, Ivan Lo is already a familiar face in Singapore’s entertainment scene. Ivan has starred in many television dramas (Mind Matters, Playground, etc) and several movies, including Jack Neo’s, We Not Naughty. One of his latest show is the popular dialect drama, Ho Seh Bo. With the younger generation speaking less of dialects in Singapore, we asked Ivan for his secrets to pick up dialects quickly. Can you tell us more about your dialect background? Do you speak dialect frequently at home or with your peers?

Ivan Lo: My father’s a Cantonese and my mother’s a Teochew. In my household, we usually speak in Chinese and English but, from time to time, we will mix in a bit of Cantonese, Hokkien and Teochew in our daily conversations.

How did you feel when you first knew that you will be acting in the dialect drama, Ho Seh Bo, as Dai Zhengxiong?

At first, I was a bit worried as I thought I would need to converse entirely in dialect. However, I was also very elated to know I would be acting in this show as it would be mostly in dialects. The show has an interesting concept as it connects with the older generations.

In Ho Seh Bo, you acted alongside Chen Li Ping who speaks mainly in Teochew and Zhu Houren who speaks mainly in Hokkien. Did these different languages pose as an additional challenge for you when preparing for your role? How did you overcome it?

Luckily for me, I didn’t have to speak full sentences in either Teochew or Hokkien in the show. As such, speaking wasn’t the main problem. The main problem, I guess, was not being able to fully understand what they were saying. This resulted in me not knowing when it was my turn to speak. I overcame this by trying my best to remember what the end of each sentence sounded like, so that I would be able to continue with my lines.

How do you feel about learning dialect? Was it easy for you to pick it up? Are there any interesting or funny stories that you can share when you were learning dialect?

For me, it wasn’t that difficult to learn to speak in dialect as my father and my aunt would sometimes converse in their dialect. Throughout the duration of filming the show, I was able to better understand Hokkien and Teochew. I don’t really think I have many funny stories when I was learning dialect. The only thing that comes to mind is that my pronunciation is very off and my Hokkien and Teochew mixes up very easily.

Can you leave some words of encouragement for young people like yourself to pick up their dialect?

All I can say is that you really have to pay attention when someone speaks in dialect. Try to converse in dialect with someone whom you know can speak really well in dialect. Never be afraid that your pronunciation is wrong. Basically it’s just practice and you’ll eventually get better and better.

Image Credits: Ivan Lo’s Instagram and Facebook

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