Thailand’s Got Talent judge Pinyo Rootham tells us about his journey from architect to television personality—and how reality talent shows and Thai politics aren’t all that different.

I was born in Petchabun where my mom and dad were teachers. They would flirt while riding their bicycles. We moved to Bangkok when I was two.

I dreamed of becoming a bus ticket boy because, as a kid, it looked like a fun adventure to dangle from a bus.

I then wanted to be an architect. My parents wanted me to study medicine or engineering, but architecture sounded more creative and I managed to get into Chulalongkorn University.

I worked with Jaraspong Surasawadee aka Sumo Tu, who was staging plays at the faculty and got some TV work through that. Finally, after being an architect for two years, I got a job working at [production house] GMM.

Back then, I used to scout for cool teens by myself. Now, I just call an agency to send me talent. If you find someone good looking walking along the street, it’s almost certain that they already have an agent.

People are addicted to celebrity gossip. Celebrities want to be famous and publishers want money. It’s just capitalism.

Sometimes, the press just wants to show their power, as if to say “Lots of people read us, so you have to obey us.” It’s all about money.

We should really rethink how much money we need to survive. It’s possible to live simply and reasonably. There needs to be a growing consciousness in society about this.

We used to only need B10. Why do we now need B30, 40, 50? People won’t even give you change anymore if it’s 25 satang.

Don’t compare yourself with others or you’ll be controlled by desires. If you compare yourself to your friend who has a new car, you will need one, too.

Why don’t we look at Bhutan? They are humans like us. How do they manage to live well with such simplicity, while we can’t?

Some of my shirts are as old as a lifetime. I’ve never caught up with fashion. Some T-shirts in my cupboard are 20 years old but I’m still wearing them. Secondhand shirts are cheap and authentic.

I was asked to be a judge of Thailand’s Got Talent by Panya Nirankul [of Workpoint Entertainment] because he likes my critiques. I asked him “So is it because I have a bad mouth?” And he said, “Quite.”

My judgments depend on my feeling and also by the story behind that performance—how hard it was to put together and what the background of the performer is.

I feel so grateful to contestants for being kind enough to join our show. It’s hard for me to judge and say that they are not good enough for the next round. Some thank us profusely for allowing them to move on, but I want to say it’s because they are cool, not thanks to us.

It’s almost a bit unfair. I always compare this show to Thai politics because people vote for those they love, but it doesn’t mean that person will be a winner.

Many Thais don’t accept defeat or can’t be faulted. If their friend makes a mistake, it’s fine because they are on the same side. But if someone else makes the same mistake, they condemn it.

We don’t need politicians with doctorates, just ones who can follow the Five Precepts. Don’t lie, don’t kill, don’t steal, don’t cheat, don’t drink.

I would bring monks to preach to Bangkokians if I was Bangkok governor. If Bangkokians followed the Five Precepts, everything would be better. Bangkok has cheap food, booze, golf and girls which is good for tourists but not for Thais.

I haven’t seen a movie in a cinema for many years because I am afraid of catching germs from people. Now I only watch movies at home.

My day job is being a creative director at Live TV which does programming for satellite TV like POP or ManU Earth channel.

I don’t like reading newspapers or watching TV. I mostly surf the internet or follow only breaking news.

I’d hear about Reya and, then after I realized that she’s just a character in a soap opera, I thought people were being so dumb. The ministry should focus on bigger problems. The parents are being so ridiculous. Can’t you even explain to your kids that it’s just a soap?

I think ratings for Thai soap operas aren’t enough. They should screen the audience too. If someone can’t watch something like this they should go watch Tom & Jerry cartoons. Interview by Monruedee Jansuttipan, Kanyanun Sunglaw and Nuchanat Prathumsuwan.


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