The Corona crisis has affected the Thai arts and media industries as well. Some have stopped, others have shifted their activities to new fields that have higher demand due to the COVID-19 prevention measures.
Stage plays, movie theaters, popular traditional village celebrations and folk-feasts, all of these different events had to stop or postpone activities suddenly. The Thai film industry is well-known to author film lovers around the world and with a huge domestic market the advertising industry has widely developed but we may assume that productions have paused. The sports and entertainment industry in Thailand is key to the advertising industries too. While advertising agencies have to stop big projects in the meantime, the middle sized industries are preparing the relaunch of services.
Performance artists, musicians and recording studios are active
Social media to stay connected with fans, video streams to reach wider audiences and parallel activities are key to sustain and develop. The actress and model Sunny Lola Vorakulsanti is based in Bangkok and allows us to get insights into her work and daily life and she shares a bite-size of what it means to work in the media industry in Thailand these days.
Ms. Sunny Lola Vorakulsanti, how has the Corona crisis affected your ongoing work/projects and what is your artist name?
I decided to use Sunny Lola as my artist name because it sounds catchy. But as soon as I started to use this name the situation of the COVID virus happened and a curfew came up in order, so this name of mine hasn't started to spread yet.
The situation of the virus in Thailand, though initially alarming, has been handled well by the medical team of the country. But the curfew announcement halted many lives in the entertainment industry.
In my case, working life during the pandemic virus is uncertain. Every job that has been agreed was cancelled, but I see this period as a good opportunity to review myself in the career of this industry. I spend most of my time watching some of my old performances, in part to make a new showreel. The other reason is to look for what I haven't done yet and what I should do to find my new talents, including ways to be used as a medium of expression, for example, I discovered that I was able to lip-sync various conversations with joy through TikTok (@sunnylolagirl) App and I also had some good editing. I'm very proud of myself in this. Because it's something I didn't think I could do and didn't even do.
Also, I am a person who likes to explore myself all the time around. This was the perfect time for me to return to myself to consider myself many things in life. I believe that good factors will affect good work also. And this is a great opportunity to spend time considering those factors in life. It makes me very happy.
You have lived in Bangkok and developed in different areas of acting. Please tell us about your previous projects in film and media.
I was born and raised in Bangkok in a Chinese merchant family in Chinatown. And as you know, for the children of the merchant, if you wish to be an actor, then don't get much support from home.
But I knew from eight years old that I wanted to be an actor. As a child, I practiced speaking alone in front of the mirror and often being teased by the siblings that I lost some confidence. But my passionate dreams never changed. I try to audition and ask for volunteers as something that always requires courage to show off in school work.
And when it's time to take the university entrance examination I decided to enter the Faculty of Fine Arts, majoring in drama without hesitation. A four year period at the university I have learned a lot about acting, though most of them focus on theater. But I got a few additional skills that I think are necessary, such as directing, dancing, writing, making up, and communicating. I can safely say that this is the four year period that I enjoy the most. And it was fortunate for me that when I graduated I was able to pass a short movie casting and it was a way for me to explore myself in the movie path. Thanks to the people around me who are so kind to me. So they often invite me to join with them and many times I work with professional teams, which is a great pride for me because they allow me to learn and explore things and I am a person who likes to do so.
At this point, although I have not had many works, my past works only include stage plays, short films, commercials, music videos, photoshoots, voice acting, acting coach, which all these mentioned I never even thought that I would have an opportunity to do.
Though many countries are going back to normal, the media industries that heavily depend on other industries relying in sponsors need to reconnect. What phenomena can you observe now and what are expectations do you have regarding projects that need to continue?
To be honest, for the media industry in Thailand, I don't think anything will change. Aside from having a curfew time now that the tensions are declining, the media industry is beginning to rejuvenate.
But the thing that is worrisome now is the theatre industry. Due to the rules of distance and socialization, it is difficult to gather together to make plays. This is not to mention working with foreign artists because they will not be able to travel to Thailand at this time.
What I see that more and more people in the theatre industry are doing is online theatre. Which is still considered an experiment for the theatre industry in our country. I think it's an interesting way, but I'm still not sure if it will be an idea that can last. Just think that in this situation this is not a bad way to express individual creativity. Many people I know have become writers or is a serious TikToker which they can also make money from doing so as well.
For me, now I am back to work as usual in the voice actors and there is an actor job that is waiting for the exact shooting date. Therefore I can say that life in Thailand is beginning to return to normal.