For Your Entertainment. From the violin to the drums and from a model to an idolized international entertainment host, E! News Asia’s Dominic Lau talks to DA MAN about fashion, music and more. By Refa Koetin.
The suave, fun-loving Dominic “Dom” James Lau started modeling when he was just 14. While some would-be models go on auditions and take classes, it all started for Dominic Lau when a woman from an agency came up to him out of the blue and asked if he would like to be a model.
“Seriously, I was walking through the shopping mall. This woman came up to me and said, ‘Hi, I represent this agency. Would you like to try and be a model?’ And I said, ‘Sure, why not.’” Being a tall and dashing Eurasian—his father is Shanghainese and mother is British and he was born and raised in Hong Kong, with a two-year stint in at boarding school in the UK—Lau does stand out.
He enjoyed exploring his newfound talent in the fashion industry and his first gig as a model was a Coca-Cola TV commercial shot in Indonesia with some of the stars of the then-NBA Champion Houston Rockets. “So from then on in it was all modeling. All my other friends were bartending or waiting tables, but I was modeling. How cool is that?” As a model, Lau represented brands including Ralph Lauren, Calvin Klein, Hugo Boss, Giordano and others.
The loyal Calvin Klein enthusiast adds, “When I’m not in my suit, I’m a T-shirt-and-jeans guy.” For Lau, fashion is about finding the right balance between comfort and looking good. “There’s no point wearing something that makes you feel uncomfortable. Skinny jeans, for example, are a big no-no for me. It’s about finding the balance of getting comfortable and also looking good with what you wear,” he explains.
Recently celebrating his 30th birthday, Lau also believes in mixing and matching what he wears in order to find the clothing that suits him and reflects who he is. “All the time I see guys sporting Louis Vuitton head to toe; that is just imitating, just copying. You don’t want to do that. In mixing and matching your clothes and style, it’s about pursuing that balance between comfort and looking good.” Wearing his Calvin Klein jeans with a pair Tom Ford shades nearby, Lau tells us more about his sartorial style. “For me, my favorite suit brand, hands down, is Tom Ford. He’s my favorite designer, actually.”
With obvious admiration, Lau explained the reasons behind his preference. “I like Tom Ford suits because they’re very well cut. I love his 1960s-inspired themes. His lapels are very wide. I love that. He puts a modern twist on his suits. The materials and how they hang—you don’t want a suit that creases easy.” Of Tom Ford himself, Lau says, “If you ever get the chance to see Tom Ford, the guy’s style is immaculate. Immaculate, but he’s a guy that sports the stubble. He likes wearing his open-collar shirts with his waistcoats and stuff. I love that. Plus, he always dresses comfortably.”
The music man
A lot of people find it surprising this genius drummer started out with the violin. He was even a part of his school’s orchestra. “The reason I took up the violin is because I was always curious as to how those small strings could make such beautiful sounds. I studied violin for about 18 months before I gave it up.”
The reason he gave it up was because he found something else. A visiting orchestra came to his school and he was inspired by a certain drummer. “I remember this guy doing his drum solo and he was just all over the drum kit. Very inspiring. The sounds he made were something else.”
At 12, Lau approached his art teacher about the drums and the next thing he knew he was getting lessons from the main percussionist for the Hong Kong Philharmonic. After some some serious training, much of it without drums, eventually he “was actually doing things I never thought I could.” He became so adept that he was offered a scholarship to King’s College in London. Lau is currently in a band called Uranus, an all-star celebrity band.
The face of E!
A model, a musician and now a presenter, Lau’s skills seem boundless. For years, he was a popular Channel V presenter. Due to his music background and his passion for rock music, the job came naturally for him. “To be honest, I owe a lot to Channel V. I gained a lot of experience in the show-business industry. I don’t think I would be here at all today if it wasn’t for Channel V.” But his career didn’t stop there.
Last year, Lau was chosen to become the male presenter of E! News Asia, and he has since been dubbed Asia’s Ryan Seacrest, something that Lau—as a huge fan of Seacrest—is proud of. “I was very, very excited about working with E!—a dream job. I’ve got a dream co-host in Marion Caunter. It is everything I could ever want.”
When asked about the highlights at E! News over the last year, Lau states that “the most memorable moments of the show are things that you don’t see on TV. Marion and I have a lot fun in the studio. We really enjoy each other’s company and we are a great team. I love her to death, but other highlights were when we went to Los Angeles for the Grammys. I got to meet and hang out with a personal hero of mine, Slash. It was fantastic. Meeting Lady Gaga was great; I had fun hanging out with her in New York. It’s really hard to pick out the highlights, it’s all been wonderful, but actually, this is the highlight: shaking hands and chatting with Ryan Seacrest,” while adding, “I never get star struck—I’ve interviewed Lady Gaga, Will Smith, Hugh Jackman, you name it, and fine, no problem—but when I met Ryan Seacrest I was like a little girl.”
However, his mom doesn’t like the fact that he’s called Asia’s Seacrest, she tells him that she thinks Ryan Seacrest ought to be called “America’s Dom Lau,” he says with a laugh.
Has he always wanted be a presenter/entertainer? “Not many people know this, but ever since I was a little boy up until this very moment, the thing I’ve wanted to do as a career is to become a pilot. Not a jet-fighter pilot, but a commercial jet pilot, specifically for Cathay Pacific.” At one point he was offered to take a class by a friend who was a pilot for Cathay, “but at that time it would’ve meant giving up Channel V. I actually gave it serious thought, but decided to stick with what I was doing.”
As successful as his career has been, he remains humble, saying that “a lot of it comes down to being in the right place at the right time. Having said that, I’ve always believed that whatever I do, there’s always someone out there that can do it better than me, and that keeps me striving to be better all the time. You’ve got to be passionate about what you do. You need to have a genuine love for it. You have to love fashion, music even gossip. It’s also important to be comfortable with yourself. I wish there was something else but for me, that’s all that does it for me. Now, I know this may sound really corny, but if there’s anyone out there who wants to do the same thing, my advice would be just to be natural.”
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