“Like all actors, I enjoy the spotlight. So if there’s an opportunity, I like to break out.”
That is how 21-year-old Winluck Wong explains his antics on the karaoke stage at the Boiler Room.
Go in there on any given Friday night and you’ll most likely see Wong belting out Usher’s You Got it Bad as he kicks his leg in the air and spins.
It is hard to envision as today Wong sits quietly across from me at a downtown café, occasionally sipping on a black tea, a science fiction novel at his side.
The full-time YTG employee admits high kicks and spins are not typical of his everyday life and he says that is why he is so drawn to the stage.
“The experience is amazing when you’re able to step into an entirely different world and life,” says Wong. “It’s almost like living a second life, taking on these character’s emotions and traits, even for just a moment, and that experience itself is incredible.”
It was in Grade 10 that Wong first realized he had a passion for acting after being cast in the role of Johnny in The Outsiders.
Wong says while that was his first “role”, he says he always knew he had a desire to take on the persona of others.
“I have an overdeveloped imagination and when I was younger I wrote a lot of poetry and short stories and I found myself always wanting to develop the characters and make them more,” explains Wong. “I wanted to step into their shoes and experience what they were going through.”
It was the spring of 2005 when Wong first came north to Whitehorse.
His parents decided on a whim they wanted to experience the North, see the Northern Lights and live through a real winter.
In college at the time in Vancouver, and having lived there since the age of eight, Wong was not in love with the idea.
“All my friends were in Vancouver and I was still in school,” says Wong. “I really thought about sticking it out and just staying in Vancouver on my own.”
But he didn’t, instead deciding to come north with his parents and younger sister.
He says it was the most important decision of his life and one that has allowed him to truly pursue his passion for acting.
“Vancouver is so immense when it comes to the arts, so it’s very hard to get your foot in the door even if you really want to … it’s hard to take that first step,” explains Wong. “I never got that chance to pursue that acting bug even though I was infected with it.”
It was at the 2006 Nakai Homegrown Festival that Wong first took to the stage in Whitehorse, performing a poetry piece, which caught the attention of some Moving Parts Theatre members.
“They asked me if I wanted to perform with them and that was exactly what I was looking for,” smiles Wong.
Since then, Wong hasn’t slowed down performing in four major productions with Moving Parts Theatre.
He has also written and performed original work and even dabbled in some stand-up comedy.
But it was his recent performance as John Merrick in The Elephant Man that he is most proud of.
“That was easily my biggest role and to really give my all to the part was incredible.”
Wong’s commitment to the role was evident as every review lauded him for his physicality on stage and ability to contort and stay true to character.
“I never expected the arts community to be what it is up here,” smiles Wong. “It really grows on you this place, maybe it’s the magnetic quality of the atmosphere.”
And while Wong admits he has fallen in love with the Yukon, he says he has his sights set on bigger things.
“My dream it to make it on Broadway or the silver screen in Hollywood,” smiles Wong. “Of course I have to deal with the practical aspects of life like paying the bills, but this is my goal and I really want to achieve that. We’ll just have to see where the road takes me.”