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Balance | Fulfillment | Peace of Mind

Tony Leung: the "King of Social Anxiety"

Updated: Jan 31



Tony Leung made history as the first Chinese actor to be presented with the Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement Award.


Despite his 40-year-long acting career, Leung revealed that he had an unhappy childhood which led to depression, and today, he continues to find ways to cope with social anxiety.


“My parents quarrelled every day and I still remember how scared I was at that time,” Leung said. “Every night, I heard them arguing and I would grab my quilt to cry. I remember that it was a cold winter. I remember the smell of the rusty iron window...I don’t know why, maybe I was very sensitive even when I was young."


When Leung was 7 years old, his father left.


“After my father left me, I didn’t know how to get along with people,” Leung said. “When you are a child, everyone would talk about their father, their family, how happy they were, and how great their father was. From that point, I stopped interacting with people and I became very depressed.”


“After my father left me, I didn’t know how to get along with people...everyone would talk about their father, their family, how happy they were, and how great their father was. From that point, I stopped interacting with people and I became very depressed.”

- Tony Leung


Things took a turn when Leung took an acting class.


“[I] found that acting can help me vent out my repressed emotions. No one knew if it was my real self or if I was playing a role. In fact, it had some of my real emotions. I felt very lucky to be an actor because acting created a balance in my life.”


Dr. van der Kolk has also noted how theatre can help people overcome trauma.


“[Acting is] the opposite of depression,” he wrote in his book The Body Keeps the Score. “Acting is an experience of using your body to take your place in life.”


“[Acting is] the opposite of depression...Acting is an experience of using your body to take your place in life.”

- Dr. van der Kolk


Nowadays, Leung also uses social media to open up about his challenges with social anxiety.


In his first video, he stated, “Tony Leung, actually he's nothing special...You think that my eyes can speak, but maybe it's because I'm not someone who knows how to express myself with words...[I get] nervous when I meet people for the first time, and get helpless when it gets too crowded. I have many things to share with others, but I don't know how to put them into words.”


Over the years, he has developed a simple strategy to cope with his social anxiety when he does run into other people.



First Step: Smile

Second Step: Wave

Third Step: Give them a tiny heart sign


If you would like to learn more strategies to cope with or overcome your social anxiety, feel free to contact us for a free consultation at RosannaHo.ca

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