Jing Lusi on life in Hampshire, working with Philip Schofield and getting her big break on Holby City
PUBLISHED: 10:06 17 March 2015 | UPDATED: 12:44 03 November 2017
After getting her big break as Dr Tara Lo in Holby City, Southampton’s rising star Jing Lusi is leaving Hampshire behind and heading for the Hollywood Hills
Seeing a roaring fire in the bar of The Bugle in Hamble was a welcome sight when actress Jing Lusi and I walked through the door. Plus it wasn’t just us who were going to get the warming benefits, Jing’s adorably cute, 10 month old puppy, Nori, made a beeline for the table next to the wood burner.
Twenty-nine year old Jing sat down, pulling off her fingerless gloves: “We were going to go for a walk after this,” she said, looking at Nori, “but it’s just too cold!”
One thing that stands out about this Southampton girl is what a wise head she has on her shoulders for one so young. It’s not surprising though, as she has done so much already; working alongside many Hollywood legends such as Colin Firth and Pierce Brosnan.
This Holby City star (she played Dr Tara Lo) was on a welcome break from working in London when we met in Hamble, and she told me how much she loves getting out of the capital and returning home.
“Most of my friends who I went to college with are all in London, so I don’t have that many left here at home. When I come back it is family time and rest time. It’s nice to have more than a minute to myself. I call coming back here, emotional rehab. You can sleep and not worry about anything. With him (she nods at Nori) we go to Itchen Valley, Southampton Common and Winchester Castle walking. It’s the complete opposite to what I have in London, which is why I come back.”
Jing admits that her parents “picked well” when they moved from China when she was just five years old.
“My mum and dad met in China at university in Shanghai; got married and had me. Dad was granted a scholarship to study a Masters in Southampton. The Chinese government and their politics wouldn’t let me leave the country, so when I was five that was the first time they granted me leave to the UK.”
She’s got plenty of fond memories of being a child in the city: “We went to Southampton Common a lot, I remember the hot air balloon festivals there as a child. We took trips to the New Forest and down to the beach at Lee on Solent.” But perhaps the biggest surprise to a five-year-old Jing was the good old British weather: “Can you believe I’d never seen snow until I came to England? I remember being bewildered by it,” she laughs. “I have so many fond memories of school too; the teachers didn’t love me, but I enjoyed it. Luckily, I came out with good grades, even though I was far from well behaved.
“I have great memories of hanging out in the cathedral grounds in Winchester with my friends. That’s why Hampshire’s so great - there are so many good places to just chill.”
Jing’s first acting experience was treading the boards at the Mayflower with none other than Philip Schofield in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.
“That was my first taste of the industry and how fun it can be. We had a long run and just the freedom of being on stage performing, the music and the audience was so much fun. If I hadn’t had that exposure I may have ended up being a lawyer.”
It’s true; Jing went to University College London to study law after leaving college.
“I wanted to be a barrister. I used to watch Perry Mason and Ally McBeal when I was growing up. It was all about helping vulnerable people, getting justice and amazing closing speeches but the reality isn’t quite the same. For me, being in an office and making rich people even richer well, I couldn’t do it. I have a lot of friends now who are city lawyers; I can see quite clearly how my life could have been.”
Once Jing had finished her degree she decided it was now or never, “if I started down the corporate road I would be stuck there forever.” She admits that she got into acting the hard way: “I should have gone to drama school but I wanted to leave education and crack on. So I went to the city and started temping and doing lots of unpaid acting jobs, a few student films. I needed to cut my teeth. I wrote to agents but I had no experience at all, so I was just ignored.”
After a lot of hard work, networking through workshops and classes, Jing started to get auditions. “After that, every time I got some work I would try to jump the ladder for better parts and it seems to have paid off, for now,” she says.
UK audiences will remember Jing best from Holby City and perhaps Law and Order but she often appears in theatres in London and other theatres in the south.
Dr Tara was unfortunately killed off in Holby, but Jing knew the storyline was going to be intense from the start.
“My character was always going to leave; I knew the storyline was going to be tragic. She had an illness but it wasn’t revealed until later on in the show, and nobody knew she was going to be killed off.”
Her run on the hospital drama might have ended but she certainly has fond memories of her time at Elstree Studios.
“It was the people that made the show such a pleasure, the cast, crew, production, everyone. It was like a family unit who lived together and you could just hang out with everyone. I think whatever job you do you’re always going to have problems and issues but it’s the people and the support network which helps you through.”
Before Dr Tara had even left our TV screens Jing was already in a play.
“It was called Four Thousand Miles; a beautiful play about an American family set in New York. It was nice to do a quick change between Holby and then some stage work.”
When she’s not filming or acting on the stage, you will find Jing writing - a passion of hers since she was really young.
“My dream role would be to star in a film that I have written. I’ve written lots of films, but sadly none of them have seen the light of day. As soon as I start something I get more work and it goes on the back burner. Eventually, I hope, I will be able to tell a story in my own way.”
In the meantime however, we have plenty of opportunities to see Jing on the big and small screen. She appears in Survivor, staring alongside Fifth Element actress Milla Jovovich, which is out at the end of 2015. She’s also in a comedy series on BBC 3 out later this year too.
“I also have a BBC One documentary coming out on March 1 about Chinese New Year. I’m presenting it and also investigating the subject. The cameras are coming into my family home, finding out about them; it’s a little along the lines of ‘Who Do You Think You Are’, busting out the baby snaps, speaking to my parents. It’s an inside view of how Chinese people celebrate their New Year in Britain.
“It’s the first time, apart from in interviews, that I have really been myself,” she smiles nervously.
Right now though, Jing is hoping to take a well-earned break for a while, walking Nori, travelling the world and, of course, hanging out in Hampshire.
“I can’t imagine living anywhere else but Southampton, Winchester perhaps. Being here during my time off is always such a huge pleasure.”
Wrapping up ready to brace the cold once more she told me as she stepped outside that she’d changed her mind about her walk: “Look at that view,” she says “I can’t not take him to see the sea!”
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