Inspiring Artists Stories
Today we'd like to introduce you to Candice Lei
Current Location: Los Angeles, CA
Candice, thank you for taking the time to share your story. Could you start by telling us a little about yourself?
I grew up on the South East Coast of China in Macau, often referred to as the Las Vegas of the East, where performers are only hired from foreign countries because we don't have enough artists to support a big show - especially musicals. Ever since I was a teenager, I've always been the odd kid that loves musicals, English pop songs, and especially Disney. You can say I was a little rebellious when it came to picking a university. I still remember I told my mum I'd drop out of school if I couldn't study performing arts. Finally, my mum compromised and let me go to school with performing arts courses in England. But I always knew the UK was just a temporary stop. It taught me the basics I needed to level up, but after two years of rainy days, I made the move to finally be closer to the sun, the beach, and the iconic Hollywood sign. Studying at AMDA College and Conservatory of Performing Arts allowed me to be myself, and gave me opportunities to experience as much art as I could absorb in four years.
The road of the artist is a sometimes long and bumpy road, what are some struggles you've faced along the way, and how have you overcome them?
Usually, people say that I was lucky to be able to study abroad. Yes, I appreciated every second that I got to live in a different country, but it wasn't always that easy. Being abroad really means building a whole new life in a new place, away from home. Learning a new language and pretending I'm good at it was the hardest, cause I could hardly articulate good Chinese- because I'm a lazy speaker, and don't even get me started on English. It took me almost five years to start thinking in English. But before all this, trying to come to the U.S. to study was already a journey. It is very odd for someone like me to study musical theatre as a major. Almost everyone around me thought that I was going to fail and be homeless, which is why it took so long for me to convince my mum to let me major in something other than science or business. I'm grateful my family has been so supportive throughout my whole journey.
Are there any lessons that you've learned along your journey so far? Something that you'd want to tell your younger self?
Recently I was in a bad place, and during that, I saw a lot of reactions that I would have never assumed was about me. It took me a while to fix the problems I've caused. So I would say, no matter what, do your job and don't be the one that drags down everyone's progress. Definitely learn when to put away your emotions, everyone has their emotional baggage to deal with, and you shouldn't make it all about yourself, you have to take care of others too.
What's the best piece of advice you've received?
To be at your best when it comes to your profession. You never know when you'll have your chance, or be presented with a great opportunity. For me it seems that I'm always presented with an opportunity at the weirdest place and time.
Can you tell us about an inspiring life event? Something maybe that inspired you to, at one point, pursue a life in the arts?
That would be my first song writing class. That class changed how I looked at myself as a performer and what I thought I could bring to the table in this industry. I've never thought of myself as someone that could create music, I'm more of the type of person to create emotions for characters. But being able to write down a tune or even let myself go free with my fingers on the piano, that just felt like a whole new world for me. And since then, I've never felt the same when I sit at a piano, feeling that connection between myself and the keys. I hope sooner rather than later I can create something great using that connection.
What do you consider your proudest moment?
It would be when I performed Sim at Cotai Arena in The Venetian Macau. I stepped foot on that stage where big stars like Rihanna and Bruno Mars have performed, and it felt like my dreams got one step closer to reality.
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