Josie Ho is a true multi-hyphenate artist. An actress, singer, producer, and designer, Ho is one of Hong Kong’s most celebrated underground creatives. She received the Best Actress Award for the Hong Kong slasher film Dream Home at the 2010 Sitges Film Festival, followed by a Time Machine Award for lifetime achievement at the 2018 festival.
You’d think that with a roster of over 40 films that transcend borders, languages, and genres, Ho would lean into pride rather than humility. Instead, throughout her 25-year career she’s only grown more into herself.
Ho and I sat down to e-chat and talk about quarantining in Hong Kong with her husband and dogs, her mantra of riding the wave of life, and her upcoming film Habit in which she’s both an actor and producer.
Lithium Magazine: Walk me through a day in quarantine.
Josie Ho: I’ve just been riding the wave of life. It goes like this: I wake up, chill, eat some food, get my day going… After picking up my phone I get back to work, have dinner (love my shanghainese- vegetarian dumplings) and chill. Then I get back on the phone again to the US. Go to bed. I just like to do things and keep working.
Lithium: What have been your go-to quarantine respites? How do you handle your stress?
Josie: I don’t, I just bury myself in work! My husband and dogs are my stress relief. I’ve been looking into photography and drawing. Reading is the most productive, although I’m not a bookworm. I’ve been immersing myself a lot in books, magazines, films, and TV.
Lithium: Tell me about Habit!
Josie: Habit is based on a true story. A Hollywood story about desperate women, gun-toting, Jesus-loving nuns, and a psychotic drug lord with a fetish for creepy crawlies. It’s a Tarantino-esque indie film that’s one for the girls and of course the boys. The cast was eclectic as can be—I was so happy to be able to work with my friends Alison Mosshart and Jamie Hince. Jamie played my partner-in-crime and Alison Mosshart cameoed as a psychic. I played the drug lord. Gavin Rosedale played the dealer, with Bella Thorne, Andrea Pejic, and Libby Mintz playing the desperate nuns. Oh yeah, and we got Paris Jackson to cameo as Jesus.
Lithium: How was it working with such an eclectic cast? How did it all come together?
Josie: Funny you should say that, it sort of had to fall apart for it to come together. Sort of like the state of the world. At the start we were looking at a more traditional cast of actors. But when we had to reset the film due to an accident, we re-shuffled and thought about how to sell the film as we incurred losses early on. Luckily we had a budding young director in Janelle Shirtcliff, who was into using some rockers and models as well as icons.
Lithium: Why did you decide to not only come on as a producer but a cast member as well?
Josie: They actually came to me as an actor first. My company, 852 Films, thought it was interesting to pick up an American indie film like this for our slate.
Lithium: How have you navigated the delays in production?
Josie: We actually had a few delays on this shoot, coronavirus being one. It’s a tough shoot. I’ll just be happy to get this one in the can and move on.
Lithium: What experiences or sentiments did you draw from to relate to your character?
Josie: The idea of a queen bee.
Lithium: Is it weird for you to see all these parallels being drawn online between Contagion and the current pandemic?
Josie: It sort of makes you wonder about the world when fiction becomes reality, especially when Hong Kong was one of the first places hit. Hopefully some of the magical fantasy of film can also shine through in real life as well!
Lithium: How, if at all, do you think we’ve seen a change in regards to approachable, realistic, and empowering representations of Asian women in film and music?
Josie: I’ve always fought for this through my work. I’d like to think I’ve helped this cause. I chose to do the films Butterfly and Dream Home for this reason. I played different characters that are honest and real in who they are. The same goes with music—after experiencing the mainstream music industry, I turned to the alternative scene to give me a better way to express myself.
By Aashna Agarwal