I was on Weibo the other day and came across the below post where HKChannel 'pays tribute' to TVB's "Green Leaf Veteran Artists" -- basically those supporting and 'less than supporting' actors / actresses whose names most audiences probably can't recite if their lives depended on it, but whose faces they will instantly recognize (well, the audiences who consistently watch TVB series that is).
As I'm sure audiences who value acting prowess over superficial looks will tell you, 'green leaf' artists are absolutely essential to a series because, well, most of the time, these artists are the ones with the acting skills as well as the experience, which is why many times, they actually end up "carrying" the series that they participate in. This has especially been true in the past decade or so as most of TVB's talented siu sangs and fadans from the 80s and 90s started leaving the nest one by one and a newer generation of 'less talented' artists rose up to take their places.
Now I know what most people are going to say -- very few people are born with natural acting talent and even the most talented of artists started off as a 'newbie' at one point, slowly building up their skills and experiences to become the 'superstars' that they are today. True, not everyone is born with the talent, but there has got to be a reason (or multiple reasons) why so many of the artists who came out of the previous generations (70s/80s/early 90s) are so much better in terms of acting skill than the newer / current generation. Aside from the rare group of artists who truly were 'born to be actors', for the others, I personally feel that one of the "reasons" has to do with the 'cultivation' of talent....
One of the things that TVB did a relatively decent job at in past generations (70s/80s/early 90s) compared to now is that back then, TVB truly did focus on 'cultivating' talent -- the management team as well as the producers back then not only had a good eye for talent (meaning they were pretty 'spot on' when it came to identifying future potential stars), they also focused alot on making sure that 'talent' was properly cultivated and channeled through acting classes as well as other means (such as casting the artists in roles that had good opportunity for development, etc.) -- of course, the artists themselves had to have some amount of skill already and be willing to work hard at mastering their craft (plus most important is having an open mind and willing to learn from others), but the 'sound' mentorship that they received along the way (whether it was from certain producers, senior artists, or even certain management) definitely helped shape their career in one way or another.
Once the late 90s / early 2000s started kicking in and the management (as well as some of the critical 'mentors' who were instrumental in shaping the artists careers in the past, such as King Sir or some of the early producers) started to leave the company, the shift in quality really started to become apparent. The newer management that took over was no where near the competence level that the previous management (and ‘founding fathers’ so to speak) were at and in all honesty, the new management did a ‘horrible’ job at maintaining the ‘good name’ that the previous generations had established. The focus shifted from a united common goal of ‘cultivating talent for talent’s sake’ to a more political and greed-driven ‘every man for himself’ type mentality where it became more important for the company to make tons of money and dominate the market rather than foster growth and development of the industry as a whole. I guess you could also say that the overall goal went from an audience-oriented, genuine desire to produce quality series and cultivate talented actors/actresses for the benefit of the HK entertainment industry to a more selfish desire of wanting to satisfy one’s own greed and hunger for power.
As a result, many of the veteran artists who had helped to make TVB the powerhouse it is today (most of whom have been around since the 80s, some even since the 70s) were tossed by the wayside – pretty much treated as inferior, ‘second-class citizens’ by TVB because they no longer have the ability to ‘rake in the dough’ for the company that they did back in the old days. Sure, part of the blame can be placed on the fickle tastes of an audience that generally cares more about beauty / looks than acting talent (I’m sure that’s what TVB’s ‘defense’ would be), but that doesn’t exonerate TVB from their actions.
In the past year or so, there was a mini ‘revolution’ of sorts when a long line of talented veteran ‘green leaf’ actors / actresses decided to leave TVB and join rival television stations (mostly CTI and nowTV). As the saying goes, ‘when you lose something, you start to cherish it more’ – well, that saying applies in this case as well because as news of more and more artists leaving surfaced week after week, it seems that many audiences are finally learning to ‘appreciate’ the value that these artists contributed to their series-viewing experience. Hence, there are Weibo posts such as the below where artists whom audiences probably never even paid attention to in the past are finally getting their ’15 minutes’ of fame now.
Since I’m one of those ‘non-mainstream’ audience members who value acting skills over looks, I’ve always been one to pay more attention to the ‘green leaf’ artists in a series than to the main leads. This has been especially true for the newer series I’ve watched from the last 15 years or so, since in majority of these series, many of the leads lack acting skill and some of their performances are usually nothing to shout about – I usually enjoy the performances from the supporting cast more than I do the main leads. Audiences like me are in the minority though, so whenever I’m able to help give more ‘recognition’ to these normally under-appreciated artists, I am more than willing to do so (especially since we all know that TVB isn’t going to do it!). My opinion might not be worth much, but that’s okay – just doing my part to show appreciation for people who I feel deserve to be appreciated and recognized.
So I would like to conclude this post by saying…..
To ALL the HK ‘green leaf’ / veteran artists out there: THANK YOU for making my television-viewing experience so pleasurable! I appreciate the years of hard work that you’ve devoted to the industry and the numerous memorable performances you’ve given to audiences like me! No matter which company you decide to work for, I’m confident that you will continue to keep up the great work! I SALUTE you and SUPPORT you!!
Source: HK Channel's Weibo (read detailed article here: Green Leaf Artists)
**NOTE: This is NOT an all-inclusive list -- only a few 'green leaf' artists who have been in a few of this year's series were mentioned...there are definitely ALOT more artists who would fall into the veteran green leaf category but were not mentioned in the article below.
Pictures credited as listed