The South African-born Chinese actor is taking showbiz by storm


Mzansi doesn’t just have international gems in Charlize Theron, Arnold Vosloo, Kim Engelbrecht and Nomzamo Mbatha. There is also Kenneth Fok, Chinese international actor born in South Africa and unique. Fok has acted alongside big names such as Matt hew McConaughey, Denzel Washington and Ryan Reynolds.

His next major appearances will be in Rogue with Megan Fox and in Warrior Season 2, as well as Cars That Built the World for History Channel on DStv, where he plays Eiji Toyoda, who transformed his family’s auto manufacturing business (Toyota ) in the world’s largest vehicle manufacturer. The larger-than-life Fok loves Mzansi for his warmth and humor.

He tells how his surname, although it has a prestigious history in China, means something completely different in Afrikaans. Fok, who was born in Germiston and grew up in Krugersdorp, said: “You can imagine the phone calls we got. Nevertheless, I became proud of our family name. Fok, who converses easily with multiple accents, says he speaks Afrikaans, English and Cantonese, as well as some Zulu, noting he had a trouble-free upbringing except for commentary casual racials.

He says: “They were always surprised not to expect a reaction, which quickly silenced them. I’ve always believed in defending yourself. I grew up on a vegetable farm and it was such a treat to have access to fresh vegetables, which I probably took for granted.

“My parents struggled for a long time to raise seven children in South Africa and also send money to help their families in China. But they persevered and built a successful farming business and, more importantly, to provide us with everything what we would need and build strong family ties.

“I have three brothers and three sisters. I was fluent in Zulu when I was young because my best friend was Zulu. I was also fluent, but unfortunately I forgot [Zulu] after we moved. He explains that acting came quite unexpectedly and relatively late in his life. “I went to Kuo Ting Chinese School, then I enrolled in Glenvista High. One day I saw an advertisement for a TV presentation course, which I did.

“After finishing the course, I still wanted to do more in front of the camera. “The instructor suggested I study acting and that’s where my acting started, in my mid-twenties . I was part of the first drama class at AFDA that graduated in 1999.”

He has since taken on Japanese, Korean, Malaysian and Chinese roles. “I can also do the Russian accent, but a Chinese with a Russian accent…I haven’t used that for a character yet,” he jokes. Although he’s starred in international blockbusters, including Safe House with Washington and Reynolds, he feels he’s still waiting for his big break. Fok also starred in the local hit film, Five Fingers for Marseille, with Warren Masemola and Vuyo Dabula. He cites his most memorable acting experiences with McConaughey.

“I’ve worked with McConaughey twice now – first on The Dark Tower and then on Serenity. We had more time to chat one-on-one on Serenity and we talked about acting and family, it was insightful. I saw with my own eyes why he is an Oscar winner. His most memorable role to date is Jacob, in the television series Warrior, produced by Justin Lin and Shannon Lee, the daughter of late Bruce Lee.

“In the second season, I tapped into emotions and physical challenges that I had never explored before. The gravity of my character’s journey and the contingency that mirrored the factual story was quite a profound experience.

A real South African Fok enjoys a family braai and football with the guys.

Somaya Stockenstroom


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