One major quality every artist or entertainer must possess is passion. Passion drives us to do some amazing things because it gives us the push to overcome obstacles to get our message or mission out while supplying creativity needed to catch our viewers attention to that message. Without passion behind speech the message is just words. Without passion behind the paint brush, the paint is just colors on a canvas. When one is passionate about what they do those colors, those words become a living and breathing message through their art.
When we find people that are passionate with a message to share they become people we want to show to the world. Those people are ones that had a dream and set out to achieve it. When we heard the story of one woman who came from humble upbringings in Vietnam yet became an international pop singer and actress we had to speak with her because she embodies the values and passion we speak preach. When we found out what amazing humanitarian endeavors she’s embarked on we knew this was a woman we need to showcase to the world – because she’s what’s right with it.
Ha Phuong is a great example of what a strong, passionate and dedicated woman is. She knows what she wants, how to get it and goes for it while making the world a better place along the way.
We had the privilege to speak with her via e mail about her life, her art, her passion and her humanitarian efforts.
AME: Tell us about life growing up in Vietnam… what is it like growing up over there and what are some significant differences than those here in the US?
Ha Phuong: I grew up in Vietnam before and after the Vietnam-American conflict. At that time, life in Vietnam was much simpler than in the United States and this greatly affects everyone in terms of personality, custom and culture. The most obvious example is the difference in the daily interactions of the people. Vietnamese people in general are honest, open, and often speak up about shortcomings of friends. Americans on the other hand don’t seem to do so. Once I settled in the US, I was accused of being too direct . I think I am being helpful to people but unfortunately, it is not always taken that way. My friends are from Europe and Asia and we often discuss our differences in the hope that we can understand each other better.
Ha Phuong: Vietnam’s entertainment industry has been evolving remarkably over many years but we still have a way to go. I am fish in a pond in Vietnam and in the United States, I am a fish in one of the Great Lakes. I understand the demands and requirements of the industry so I try my best to pursue my career and make it successful. I hope that the audiences will continue to support me.
AME: When did you get interested in singing/acting… who were some of the people that inspired you to follow your dreams (in the industry or outside of it).
Ha Phuong: I’ve loved singing and acting since I was a child. My father is a musician and my mother’s relatives are poets, singers and musicians. My sisters (Cam Ly and Minh Tuyet) and I inherited our artistic talents from our family’s bloodline. Since we were kids my sisters and I were well known as “The Most Entertaining Performers” in school. We represented our school in singing competitions from our district to nationwide contests. Growing up performing on professional stages gave us opportunities to advance our careers. Later on in our careers, we got a lot of airplay on VPOP (Vietnamese Pop music.)
AME: In the Asian culture, family is EXTREMELY important. Did you have the support of your family? How did they support you and would you have chosen a different path had they not supported your decision to sing/act?
Ha Phuong: Yes, the old Asian culture was harsh, especially in emotional relationships between artists. My parents were very worried when I shared with them my decision to pursue an entertainment career. When I was in my Broadway Musical class, my teachers discovered my talents and asked my parents to let me follow in their footsteps but my parents declined. At that time, joining Vietnamese Broadway Musical group meant living away from my family to allow me to perform for various audiences. I was despondent, but I had no choice but to obey my parents. After a long time, they recognized my passion for the arts. They reconsidered and allowed me to perform in shows in the evening. I quickly joined vocal classes and participated in small to big contests with the desire to become a professional singer. Every show, my parents would always come to see me perform — partly because they wanted to see their daughter on stage and partly because they wanted to supervise and protect me from corrupting influences in the industry. My parents supported my dream but they were worried that my future would be in danger. There were directors that joked “Oh God, your parents have been there with you since forever!” Since I was a kid, I dreamed of becoming a famous artist. Now, I am genuinely happy in my career and happy that I am not disappointing my parents or the audiences!
AME: You starred in a movie called “Finding Julia.” What is this movie about and what were some of your favorite things about your character?
Ha Phuong: In my film “Finding Julia,” Julia loves her father in a way that she recognizes is wrong. Both characters that I play in the film easily touch the hearts of the audience as she showcases her reclusive character. The character, Julia, and I have a few things in common such as we are both singers, as well as our origins, language and culture. The only difference is Julia’s secret.
AME: I’ve heard from other Asian actors/actresses that they wished Asians had more opportunities in film than there currently are. Do you see this as a problem and how can more Asians land quality roles in TV or movies if it is a problem?
Ha Phuong: The hardest thing for Asians, not being born and growing up in the United States, is learning the language. Their intonations will never be as natural as native speakers, consequently it is very difficult to break into Hollywood film. If possible, I expect that creative forces may cooperate to create a new market for Asians in the United States so they will have the opportunity to grow in a favorable environment.
AME: Your ventures in acting/singing provide income for your other passion through profits obtained that helps children in Vietnam. Tell us why you decided to do this, and what was the need behind it.
Ha Phuong: I am very happy with my life. I have a wonderful family — my parents, sisters, grandparents and children. Everyday, I witness many unfortunate situations so I would like to share my blessing with them through benevolent responsibilities. In the arts many talented young people have financial difficulties or they have not been able to match up with a proper support team. Thus as an artist with years of experience, I hope to contribute to support and endorse the younger generation.
AME: You created Ha Phuong Foundation which helps children… how do you help children with this foundation and in what country(s) does it lend assistance in.
Ha Phuong: I often travel to Vietnam and bring gifts directly to orphans. In addition, I also help the less fortunate in many different ways.
AME: We also know that you are a vital part of “The Vietnam Relief Effort”. What is this non-profit and how does it help the people of Vietnam?
Ha Phuong: I can’t finish everything in this story so I hope you can visit www.haphuongworld.com to understand my mission more clearly.
AME: With your hands in so many non-profits, acting/singing etc…what do you feel has been your biggest accomplishment to date?
Ha Phuong: My biggest accomplishment is to share my singing talent with everyone and participate in charitable activities to help the less fortunate.
AME: How do you manage to keep everything straight in your life doing so many things which also include being a wife, mother and sister… how do you make sure to spend quality time with your family?
Ha Phuong: Family is my ultimate source of support and family means a great a deal to me. I always try to arrange proper time for both my family and my career. I spend my daytime hours taking care of family and my nighttime hours working on my career.
AME: What do you hope to see with your career and these non profits going forward into 2018 and beyond? What is one of your major goals for 2018?
Ha Phuong: I hope the audience will support my book and my film along with my upcoming musical projects. If it is successful, it will bring great joy to those who are less fortunate because I will contribute the profits from these activities to charity.
AME: You have two daughers, if they decided to follow in your footsteps would you support it? How would you help them achieve their goals in the industry?
Ha Phuong: First of all, I will encourage my kids to finish school and practice honesty and have strong morals and values. I will guide them to define goals and be resolute in achieving them. My kids have the advantage of being born and raised in the United States so the language is not a barrier for them to succeed should they choose in the arts.. But I do wish that they would be able to learn determination from their mother and achieve their goals. Nevertheless, as they say, “We plan, God laughs” so all I can do is guide them in their first steps, the rest must depend on their will.
AME: What advice can you provide to entertainers, artists, musicians coming out of other countries to achieve success.. cause some countries limit opportunities while some pave the way to receive opportunities.
Ha Phuong: At the moment, I cannot give any advice because I’m not sure whether I can fully achieve my goal in this promising land (smile). If that is the case, I will definitely share my experiences with you!