|Interview with Karen Morris '87|
Miss Karen Morris (Class of ’87) is a talented artiste in Hong Kong. She has more than 20 CD releases to her name and has starred in over 30 movies since 1993. Her awards have been numerous, ranging from local to international awards in the entertainment business.
In addition to her work in showbiz, Karen is also actively involved with various social/ charitable organizations in the Greater China Region and serving as ambassador for UNICEF, SPCA, Animals Asia and HKTB.
In December 2006, Helena Chan of the Editorial Sub-committee met with Karen for high tea. While both were reminiscing their good old days studying together at DGJS and DGS as well as the University of London, Karen was kind enough to give us an insight into her life as an artiste. Below is an account of that conversation.
Helena: How many years did you spend at DGS, and what were the significant and memorable, happy and unhappy moments?
Karen: I spent 11 years at DGS, from Primary 1 to Form 5. I had lots of fun especially taking part in all these activities at school such as singing, drama, choir, the traditional Form 3X production - CATS, music/speech festival, etc.
Helena: Are your teachers still teaching at DGS? If not, do you know what they are doing now?
Karen: Well, as far as I can remember, most of them have retired, but some are still teaching at DGS. The teacher I remember most is Mrs C. Chiang who taught us music at DGJS. She was really nice and every time I attended her class, I was all excited and happy---well, you know, music was one of my favourite subjects, even then!
Helena: How did your school life at DGS prepare you for the challenges you have faced? Did you realize at the time how much it would mean to you?
Karen: Looking back, the training I had at DGS prepared me really well for the challenges later in life. Growing up in such a competitive environment has equipped me with the self-confidence and drive which are essential for survival in the stressful world of showbiz. I regard competition as something positive, a good driving force one needs in order to improve and mature.
Helena: I know you studied overseas. How would you compare your DGS experience with that of your overseas studies?
Karen: Well, it’s hard to compare since these experiences represented the different stages of growing up. DGS gave me a really good foundation so that I could be confident enough to rely on myself when I left home after Form 5 to study abroad. I was awarded a scholarship to continue my studies at the UnitedWorldCollege of the Adriatic in Italy. It was a great experience to be among a group of young, elite students, the ‘crème de la crème’ from all over the world.
Everyone was a top scholar from their own home country and you would be amazed at how much talent there was around you. I realized how important it was to constantly take on new challenges and to really reach out and push your own limits to find out how far you can go. I am still thankful for that opportunity to study overseas and be with the best.
“My training in DGS has given me a good foundation and prepared me well to study abroad in a new environment.”
Helena: How did you go about making your choice of career after completing your education?
Karen: I actually had my mind made up when I was a kid. I remember having to appear in front of people all the time to sing and dance since the tender age of 3. That’s why at school I did everything/anything remotely connected with performing: choir, drama, orchestra, bible-reading, endless competitions at the Speech and Music Festival---I also had loads of classes after school: dance, piano, oboe, Gu Zheng and even the Scottish bagpipes at one point! I made full use of my time to learn as many different skills as possible because one day they would come in handy. I was determined to become a performing artist and never ever considered doing anything else.
Helena: What would you consider the most significant and memorable moment/event in your life since your schooldays?
Karen: If I have to pinpoint just one significant moment it will have to be my audition for “Miss Saigon” in London. I was at London U at the time and was constantly watching out for auditions in the West End. My chance finally came when I saw an ad for an open casting for “Miss Saigon”. I went to the theatre, waited with a bunch of other hopefuls until it was my turn to sing, did their dance routine, got called back for a second audition and was eventually picked to start training. The whole experience was kind of scary and very surreal.
Winning the HK Outstanding Students’ Award when I was in Form 4 was another memorable moment from my schooldays. I can still recall the exact moment when I got a phone call informing me that I had won. It was exhilarating and I started jumping up and down in the house with my parents!
Helena: Do you consider yourself successful?
Karen: Yes, I do. I believe that being able to fulfill one’s dream or attain one’s goal (especially after having worked hard for it) equals success. Obviously, one must have a dream to begin with in order to become successful.
Helena: Do you have any other hobbies?
Karen: Well, my greatest hobby is actually my job, so I’m pretty lucky to be doing the thing that I love most for a living. Apart from that, I love animals. I’ve got four cats at home.
Helena: What advice would you give to our girls at DGS to help them in the future
Karen: DGS girls are very smart already. They’re well-trained to be multi-talented, independent and confident young ladies. I would encourage everyone to really enjoy their time at school. Try out new things, discover and develop your talents and always aim high. Apart from fulfilling your duties at school, it is also important to get into the habit of caring for others and do charity work. After all, our school motto is ‘daily giving service’, right?
“I loved to perform even as a kid---I did traditional Chinese dancing and the “Gu Zheng"---It is a bonus to my work as a performer that I know all these different skills.”
Helena: What’s your priority between career and family?
Karen: Right now, career is my priority and I am most grateful to my family for giving me moral support. I am also grateful for the support from classmates whom I have known since primary school. There is this special bonding which is irreplaceable---a special kind of friendship, the growing–up together and the ups and downs we all experienced together during the school years. It is a very good feeling to know that they’re around and will be there for you especially in time of need like turning up at my concerts and cheering for me all the way!
Helena: Do you have any other views on school life at DGS ?
Karen: I have many happy memories of my days at DGS. It had a great impact on my life, was an important part of my childhood and youth, and will always be a source of inspiration for my future.