The Vinci Code: Vinci Wong on becoming Tung Wah chairman and LGBT rights in the city
Vinci Wong is founder and chairman of Chinese medicine pioneer 3 Kings Holdings, a subsidiary of the Wongs’ WKK Group. Following his highly publicized marriage to partner Kevin Chow last year, he also prepares for the coming year as chairman of the city’s most prominent charity organization, the Tung Wah Group of Hospitals. We caught up with the former TVB star at the new Kerry Hotel (a Shangri-la brand) in Hung Hom.
Your career took off when you became a talent with TVB and artist with ATV. Did you always see yourself getting into entertainment?
I’ve been enamoured with the entertainment industry since I was young. I liked to express myself. Whenever they had games on those radio programmes I’d always phone in – not for the prizes, but for the thrill of hearing my own voice on air.
What were your first steps into that career then?
My first forays were in radio, during my days in Vancouver. I spent high school and university in Canada, where I entered an international Chinese DJ contest. I got into the top 10, which landed me a gig in one of Vancouver’s Chinese radio stations. I worked there for four or five years. Once I finished my studies, I came back to Hong Kong and joined Metro Plus Live, and then TVB.
What made you decide to move?
It was time. I was with TVB from 24… 13 years later I was already towards my 40s.
I had a lot of opportunities, but it was getting repetitive. A lot of shows are done every year, like the annual countdown, beauty pageants, charity shows. I found myself standing on stage and saying the same thing again and again. I kind of got scared, asking myself ‘Do you want the rest of your life to be like this, doing the same thing?’
I couldn’t find anything new about what I was doing. I could still manage to change myself, but had I waited 10 more years it would have been too late.
Let’s talk about your upcoming year as chairman of Tung Wah, which starts next April. What are your plans for that?
I want to create more awareness about Tung Wah. Most people might think that it’s old fashioned as it’s been around for 150 years, but I want to change that. I hope I can leverage my prominence as somebody people have been seeing on TV over the years.
When you married your partner of 7 years, Kevin Chow, in Vancouver last year it made the headlines in Hong Kong as the first same sex marriage in local entertainment. How did people react?
My family, relatives, old school friends and even the management at Tung Wah – they all supported me. This gave me a lot of confidence to take the next step in our relationship, and I’m thankful for that.
It’s been in my head for a long time: If I met someone I think is the right one, should I get married? But before meeting Kevin, there was never the right person.
How was your journey coming out?
Whether straight or gay, you just know it inside of you. It wasn’t something I ever questioned. In my generation especially it wasn’t easy; I told my family when I was in my twenties and I had other problems making me unhappy. On top of all that I was tired of hiding my sexuality, so it happened all at once. I told them about my problems, ‘Oh and by the way, I’m gay’ [laughs].
They might not have embraced it at first, but it wasn’t a big drama. In the end they not only accepted it but wanted me to find the right person with whom to have my own life and family as well.
After you married Kevin, you became a role model for the city’s LGBT community. How are you handling that unintended role?
We would definitely want to do more for society, for younger ones of future generations. We’re talking about equality here. Same sex marriage is a must in the future.
Text: Julienne C. Raboca