Don’t listen to doubters. Not one person in my life said I could do this. Everyone for 20 years, told me to shut up and give up. And now, they’re all commenting, “We believe in you! You’re amazing!” I was like, “Whoa, you told me to just get over it and let it go”. I remember some specifically telling me a story where they told me, “Mayling, why don’t you become a manager or an agent because you’re well past your prime and you don’t look like a typical Hollywood actress. If you want to be in the industry, do something else.” And now they claim to be my biggest fans. Lol.
As a part of our series about Inspirational Women In Hollywood, I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Mayling Ng.
Mayling Ng is a name to know in Hollywood with several noteworthy acting projects on the horizon. She is set to star in the DC Comics and Warner Bros. Pictures film “The Suicide Squad” from writer/director James Gunn as the character ‘Mongal’, a malevolent, orange muscular alien who doesn’t play well with others — especially Harley Quinn. You may already recognize Ng from the character of ‘Orana’ in the DC Comics film “Wonder Woman”, as the Amazon charging into action and off the cliff in the movie trailers. Ng also has an impressive fitness background as both a black belt Martial Artist and Figure Competitor representing Singapore in the USA.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Our readers would love to get to know you a bit better. Can you tell us the story of how you grew up?
I was born in the UK. My father is Singaporean Chinese and my mother is British. I moved to Tenerife as a child, and then to Asia and back. I have a history of living in many countries, so I guess you can say I have a worldly perspective. I grew up obsessed with martial arts movies and trained in different schools in various styles, whatever country I was in.
Can you share a story with us about what brought you to this specific career path?
I had several careers before I began acting. I owned restaurants in Tenerife. I worked as a personal trainer in Singapore. I was a competitive bodybuilder in bikini and figure contests. Then, five years ago, I decided to reach for my deepest desire of becoming an actor, which I’d always dreamed of doing one day but never pursued wholeheartedly because I lacked the confidence to put myself out there. When I dived in, I was fortunate that things came together relatively quickly. When I lived in Singapore, a producer in Hong Kong reached out to me because he was looking for someone who could play the baddie, a Russian female martial artist, in a Martial Arts Kumite fight to the death movie. The role brought a lot of attention to me and allowed me to move to America for work in the film industry. A few months after arriving here, I was contacted by a friend on Facebook asking if I looked like my photos when I competed. He saw I could do weapons from my Instagram videos and was looking for Amazons for Wonder Woman, which was already shooting at the time. So I had 6 days to be in Warner Brothers studios in London, and before I arrived I landed the role of Orana. My life completely changed after that. As I said, I’ve been fortunate.
Can you tell us the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?
The most interesting story was on the day of the table read for The Suicide Squad, directed by James Gunn for the role of Mongal. I was sitting across the table from Idris Elba, Margot Robbie, James Gunn, Joel Kinnaman, Nathan Fillion, plus many more… That morning, I received a memory notification on my Facebook saying it was 4 years to the day I moved to the USA to go for my dream. I had a pinch-me moment and sat there smiling like a dork across from these legends and incredibly talented people that I would never dare to dream of being with at the same table.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
Well, I learned on the job to be honest, as I didn’t have any training before I started to get hired. Honestly I just kind of “winged” it at first, and then I soon realized there were certain things they were asking me — like wide shots and blocking and other technical jargon — and I really just had no idea what they were saying to me. But eventually, I learned all the technical terms.
Probably the biggest lesson I’ve learned is having a team to work with on furthering my career. Having a good manager, which took a while, and a good publicist really helps, I work with a great acting coach and added a dialect coach last year. I also train weapons and graded my black belt with Wushu Shaolin entertainment and work on film fight techniques and kicks with Jessen Noviello.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
Dave Bautista kindly shared with me his coach, Joe Ochman. Dave gave me some great advice on how to take the knocks and deal with the judgment and just learning to have faith. I see him as a mentor and aspire to have the same career.
You have been blessed with great success in a career path that can be challenging. Do you have any words of advice for others who may want to embark on this career path, but seem daunted by the prospect of failure?
Discipline gets you everything. If you’re willing to work hard and have a positive attitude, that will take you places. You just need to believe. It’s working for me with this new James Gunn movie.
What drives you to get up every day and work in TV and Film? What change do you want to see in the industry going forward?
It’s already changed so much in the last six years since I’ve started, and that’s an amazing thing as it’s just the right thing. What drives me is being happy doing the work I love.
You have such impressive work. What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now? Where do you see yourself heading from here?
I just finished shooting Legend of the White Dragon. Later this year, I’ll be filming The Journeyman in England. It’s a kitchen-sink boxing movie, in which I’ll be starring alongside retired UFC champion Michael Bisping. I’m looking forward to it because I’ll be playing a totally different kind of character than I’m used to — a woman who’s trying to move on with her life after escaping an abusive relationship. It will be directed by Dax Phelan, who’s been a great friend and believed in me ever since I moved to LA. He and co-writer, Mark Turley, wrote the role specifically for me.
We are very interested in looking at diversity in the entertainment industry. Can you share three reasons with our readers why you think it’s important to have diversity represented in film and television? How can that potentially affect our culture and our youth growing up today?
Diversity is real life. Whether you like it or not, POC is everywhere, and here to stay. It seems a little insane that we are only being noticed as equals in the industry until recently because we’re the majority of the human population lol. It’s just good that right now the awareness is here and changes are happening. There’s a long way to go, but I can see it has changed a lot just in my breakdowns where everything is more open, whereas before it wasn’t. I’m getting so many different calls now. Obviously many are still for badass roles, but there’s no specific character description of race in that way anymore. Most of my auditions are open ethnicity or mixed which is pretty important. I have even been called in for roles written for men. The “Scorpion King” role was a man’s role before the director spotted me in another movie, then called me in and rewrote the role. I’ve waited half my life to truly find my space, and I’m hoping the youth of today don’t need to go through that.
What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why? Please share a story or example for each.
- No one cares, just do you.
- You only have you, so be the best you. Give the best in your work and in love.
- Don’t listen to doubters. Not one person in my life said I could do this. Everyone for 20 years, told me to shut up and give up. And now, they’re all commenting, “We believe in you! You’re amazing!” I was like, “Whoa, you told me to just get over it and let it go”. I remember some specifically telling me a story where they told me, “Mayling, why don’t you become a manager or an agent because you’re well past your prime and you don’t look like a typical Hollywood actress. If you want to be in the industry, do something else.” And now they claim to be my biggest fans. Lol.
- Just believe in yourself.
- Don’t be insecure, don’t second guess yourself, and just have the belief, please.
Can you share with our readers any selfcare routines, practices or treatments that you do to help your body, mind or heart to thrive? Please share a story for each one if you can.
Training and nutrition are paramount. Protein keeps you young because if you don’t have muscle, all you’ll have is skin, fat and bone. Muscle is youth. It keeps you healthy and strong.
For recovery at night a very hot Epsom bath with coconut oil, a body brush, and a smother on my face with Aquasilk from Dr. Ben Talei in Beverly Hills with a massage to get me ready for the next day on-set of heavy makeup or SFX make up, followed with a good night’s sleep. I only use supplements that I believe in, so for recovery, I drink Vital Proteins collagen sleep formula or I take the Vital Proteins dummies if traveling, as it’s great for my joints to recover and allows me to get ready for the work ahead.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
“God loves a tryer.” I always say that to myself. I don’t know where I got it from, or what continent it was from. Just try it. If you fail, you will learn from it and be better. I’ve lived in 3 continents and over 10 countries all by myself. I had a ball doing so because whatever I wanted to do I just had to try and learn. Now I know I’m in the right place and doing the right thing because I’ve done everything else and wasn’t happy. Now, I’m happy.
You are a person of huge influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be?
Wallace Wattles’ book “The Science of Getting Rich”. It’s a great book that I read when I had some downtime. I was getting frustrated with the industry and stressed, and this was a massive positive influence on my outlook to stay in the industry.
The book says, “You are not in competition. We’re all in collaboration, not competition.” That really helps me. For example, if someone else gets a part that I went for, I’m happy for them because it’s their path and it was never mine to begin with. It really let a lot of stress, judgment, and comparison out of my system. To let things go lets me just be free. When you’re in a film with someone, you just all collaborate and don’t worry about competition. I wish everyone and everything was like that.
Is there a person in the world whom you would love to have lunch with, and why? Maybe we can tag them and see what happens!
Are you ready for this? Barbra Streisand! I love her. The fact that she looked different nobody could deny her talent. And her story feeds my motivation. She basically owned Hollywood at one point. She’s powerful, and her voice soothes me. She’s just amazing. I have always wanted to see her live, and to have lunch with her now that’s another level of dreaming, but just to watch her sing live would be magical.
Are you on social media? How can our readers follow you online?
This was so informative, thank you so much! We wish you continued success!