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Humans of JNI: Mandy Leung

My name is Mandy and I like to think of myself as a travel adapter. It’s an apt metaphor that describes both who I’ve become here at JNI and how I got here.

I came to the UK in 2011. Leaving Hong Kong, I said goodbye to friends, family and all the sights and sounds I’d grown up around. But I was excited to complete my MA in Theatre here in London. I did, and I enjoyed doing so a great deal but, when my degree was done, I found that there were not very many jobs going in theatre.

I had my heart set on becoming a producer like I was in Hong Kong.

I spent a year – a year I call my year in limbo – searching for jobs in and around London. Despite not finding anything, I enjoyed exploring the city, and did so largely on its varied cycle routes. I love London’s museums and, of course, the theatre scene here.

Though I was enjoying myself, I knew that I couldn’t continue in limbo for ever. I took a job offered to me by a friend (now both a friend and colleague) I’d made at my local church. It was a temporary role here at JNI. I filled in where I was needed. It wasn’t a set role and I ended up trying my hand at several different positions within the company.

I found, to my surprise, that there were a great many similarities shared by the worlds of branded merchandising and theatre production. I was, by a chance conversation with a church friend, working on creative projects. I was bringing someone’s abstract vision to reality. I was working toward fixed deadlines and doing so as I played my part of a team who were themselves a segment of a greater project.

It wasn’t the stage but, hey, with the right attitude, the whole world’s a stage! And it was definitely using a lot of what I’d trained for.

Now, nearly a decade on, I’ve played a part of several of those segregated teams. I’ve been an event manager (director?), I’ve been on the development team (script writing and set design?), in accounts (still accounts, probably) and even working in the warehouse (backstage?). The travel adapter.

I miss Hong Kong and my family who still live there. But London is my home, for now at least, and so long as the Tate Modern and the V&A keep producing imaginative displays and I can continue to cycle around the city, I’m happy to call it so.

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