Freshly imported from Laos, heartthrob Thanwa Suriyaja, talks about his journey from Pakse to Bangkok to be an actor in Hak Na Sarakham, directed by Insects in the Backyard’s Thanwarin Sukhaphisit.

BK: What is your background?
Thanwa:
I was born in Pakse, Laos and studied at an international school there before entering the National University in Vientiane. I grew up watching a lot of movies because my family business is video rental.

BK: How did you decide to be an actor in Thailand?
Thanwa:
I had dinner with friends last Songkran at a restaurant and I realized that there was a man staring at me the whole time. It really scared me and I thought he had some kind of problem with us. So I ate quickly and jumped onto my motorcycle because it seemed like he was following me. A couple of days later, my friend gave my number to the owner of the restaurant after that man asked the owner to get my number if I came back. So he called me and asked, “Do you know P’A? He’s the manager of Mario Maurer.” And I said no. Then he said he’s a friend of A-Suppachai Sriwichit, a famous agent, but I didn’t buy it. He didn’t give up, though, and asked for my mom phone’s number to talk to her. A week later, my mom called and said the star scout wanted to meet me in person at home. After we met, I decided to come to Thailand to study film at Rangsit University and work as an actor.

BK: Were you worried about moving far from your home?
Thanwa:
Yes, I was. It’s like my whole world changed. But in another way, I think it’s kind of cool to live and make money on my own. I haven’t come here only to be an actor, but also to study as well, so it’s like studying abroad.

BK: Any culture shock?
Thanwa:
A lot! I understand Thai but I can’t read or write it. P’A hired a teacher to teach me Thai and I had to practice writing Thai from kindergarten textbooks. I really wanted to come to Thailand to learn about the culture because I admire how Thai people respect and love their king. I was stunned and so inspired by the image of millions of people gathered for the celebration of his 60 years on the throne.

BK: Tell us about your first movie Hak Na Sarakham?
Thanwa:
It’s like a dream come true because I always wanted to star in a movie that my father would actually watch. I play Thep, a heartthrob in university, who acts like a K-pop figure and doesn’t speak Isaan even though his parents are totally mo lam. The movie is about being who you are, and not being shy about expressing your roots. I want to make my own movie one day. That’s my dream.