My Daily Rituals with Artist and Advocate Kristina Lao

My Daily Rituals with Artist and Advocate Kristina Lao

Meet the hardest working artist I know.

Kristina Lao (she/her), is an Artist-Advocate from Hong Kong with over 15 years working internationally as a creator, connector and curator in Entertainment.

The first time I interacted with Kristina was in a pre-interview to appear as a guest on her amazing podcast Bombshell Brunches, which she co-hosts with Raquelle Roodenburg. In a short 10 minute phone call I knew I'd love this woman. My instinct very quickly proved to be correct after meeting up for dinner and drinks at a downtown neighbourhood cafe, and watching Kristina perform at a weeknight show at Guilt & Co. 
The more I learn about Kristina, the more impressed I am. She is the first person from Hong Kong to graduate from the London School of Musical Theatre, and holds a degree with honours in International Business from the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology. As a creator, in addition to the podcast Kristina is also a nationally touring theatre and film actor, musician and songwriter.
Kristina has participated on multiple Provincial and National Music & Media Industry Boards, Panels and Juries, including engagements with Music BC Industry Association, Cushy Entertainment, Creative BC and 2Cream2Sugar.
I see Kristina as a fierce supporter of women in their businesses, their careers, and their art.
If you follow her on Instagram, quickly you'll see how multi-faceted and hard working she is. Her days appear to be a whirlwind of podcast research, interviews, TV appearances, auditions, being on set, and playing gigs late into the evening at trendy venues throughout Vancouver. Yet, somehow she's also working exercise, meditation, and reflection into each and every day. I knew I had to find out more about Kristina's daily rituals, how she taps into creativity and fills her cup in order to be able to perform at such a high level.
I'm thrilled to have met Kristina when I did, and look forward to sitting back and watching her star rise, in true admiration.

What does your morning routine look like?

My morning routine is set up for me to do before I let the rest of the world in. I do the following: 
  • 10 minutes of meditation
  • 10 minutes of yoga
  • 5 minutes of vocal warm up
  • 10 pages of a book that improves me (right now I'm reading "All About Love" by Bell Hooks, the last one was "Pathways for Reconciliation"). 
  • 10 minutes of singing and guitar 
These pillars, in 45 minutes total, put me in touch with my mind, body, and heart, and connect me to my profession, which stems from my passions. If I'm in a rush, I reduce the time in each, but I do not take any one step out completely - they're all as important as each other. This allows me to step into the world (including the virtual one) feeling like a whole, self-nourished soul.  *I've also added Wordle to my mornings... I CAN'T HELP MYSELF. 

How do you take care of yourself?

Big question!

My biggest self-care tool is listening. I am on the go a lot, and if I don't stop, take a few deep breaths, and listen to what's going on in and around me (i.e. my mind, body and soul), I can just bulldoze into exhaustion, or be influenced by an external source (a person, or media). I think society can  present us with 'care structures' that aren't necessarily always in tune with ourselves. So, I take the time to listen. The actions tend to naturally follow. Sometimes, it's a walk in the forest or by a body of water. Sometimes it's a comedy show. Sometimes, it's dancing in the dark, or going on a self-date, or calling my family. I find that if I give myself enough space, and listen, the message of what's best for me, will get to me. 

What are you exploring or learning about right now?

I'm learning how to lead and live with love at the forefront. Sounds big, but this recent book (Bell Hooks' "All About Love") has really impacted me. I'm working with some amazing people who centre on community- minded values, and I'm learning to surround myself with what we call "Fire Friends" at Bombshell Brunches - those people who light your fire and keep it burning, who stand beside you when you're running multiple businesses and instead of telling you to 'slow down' or 'be realistic', bring you firewood and tell you they've been there too.

Here's looking at YOU, Kate Bouchard! 

What's one thing you do every single day?

Learn. I almost don't care what. Every day I'm alive, I learn something new.

What is your relationship to health and wellbeing?

Many entrepreneurial and creative industries can be feast or famine, and constant change is happening all the time. I treat my health and wellbeing as my key to sustainability in a fickle, demanding and highly energetic career.

I admit that sometimes I am just getting by, if I'm on set or working on a show my routines can get messed up, and sometimes I push my health and wellbeing to the wayside in the name of work. I know that's not the best option, but it happens, and it's important for me to forgive myself for not being perfectly structured. My best analogy, which pertains to how I hold my relationship to health and wellbeing, is this: I can't change the tides, but I can build the best surfboard in order to catch the best waves. I don't know what's around the corner, so I prioritise top health and wellbeing so that when big opportunities come, I'm not just ready, I'm primed to catch that biggest wave!

How do you like to unwind at night?

I like to watch light comedies, romantic comedies, read light books, and hold meaningful conversations with loved ones. My days can feel intense, and by the end of them I need to switch off. I LOVE puzzles, and popcorn, and walks. I also like wine, but that's not something I want to perceive as an 'unwind' behaviour for me. If it becomes that, I know I need to shift that perspective.

As an artist and entrepreneur, what have you turned to during periods of high stress or pressure?

I turn to my loved ones first. My family, my closest people. I talk it out. I also have an incredible career coach who is also a hypnotherapist, and a friend who may as well be an on-call business coach. They both help me troubleshoot and create a plan of action. Second thing I do is make lists. I get it out of my mind and onto paper, so that it doesn't fester in there. I've found this extremely important. And thirdly, I adjust my workout routines to include more meditation, more gratitude practice, and more flexibility-based workouts instead of high intensity. If my cortisol levels feel super high, I don't add to them by sprinting around the seawall. I did that once - bad idea. 

What is the connection between health/wellness and performance as a singer/musician and actor?

To me, health and wellness is not just about feeling whole and living well (although that is the primary goal), it's the key to my artistic sustainability. We've been so unfortunately exposed to the 'dark glamour' of artists that are drug and alcohol infused, lost and confused, and we look on with morbid interest in their fall from glory as if it's a reality show. The number of guardians of artists I've spoken to, who believe their child will be in danger of living on drugs or alcohol, is sad. But it's also a story we perceive, thanks to the media. I've been lucky enough to grow up with a big sister who was very well ensconced in the modelling world growing up, and she taught me how surface level all those things were, and how important it was to remember to take care of yourself first. But I was lucky - my older sister was extremely wise from a very young age, and never bought into the glamour, even as one of Hong Kong's top models at the time.

Taking care of yourself, being healthy and well, means you can be on set at 5am, hydrated so you look good on screen, fit so that you can do all those weird actions on camera, and focused so that you are present and ready for these million-dollar productions that support countless jobs and livelihoods.

Your health as an artist is you being a good team member. Simple as that. 

Is there anything else you'd like to share - what's been on your mind lately?

One thing I've been thinking about a lot recently is how to better incorporate supplements into my routine with my nutritionist. I see health as a holistic thing, and one that I need external advice and help with. If you want to be high performance, you need to treat yourself like a Ferrari. And that requires investing in the things that you need to, in order to create more efficiency in your body. After all, if you're reading this, you are also juggling a busy life, thinking about how to streamline, and committed to betterment. So, we both know that time is our most precious asset. We gain more time when we get aerodynamic about our internal and external systems, tools, and functionality. 

You can find Kristina in all the places online: 
Instagram | Facebook | Twitter | IMDB | LinkedIn

Images by Vanessa Mayberry Photography. 
Nadia Hoecklin on Style, Hair and Makeup.

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