行腳全台散播正能量

來自土耳其的吳鳳
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2019 / 7月

文‧陳群芳 圖‧吳鳳


吳鳳來自土耳其,本名吳承鳳,曾獲金鐘獎最佳行腳節目主持人。從外國留學生、臨時演員、外景主持、台灣女婿,如今是領有身分證的台灣人,吳鳳用自己的力量,勇闖台灣演藝圈。他說要把自己這顆鑽石,放在對的地方。透過吳鳳的詮釋,讓台灣人更了解台灣,共同挖掘這塊土地的美好。


初夏的午後,我們來到與吳鳳約好的咖啡廳,剛結束上一個採訪的他,禮貌地起身招呼:「朋友,不好意思讓你們久等了。難得有空檔,所以一次排了兩個採訪,一石二鳥嘛!」成語就這麼自然地從異國面孔說了出來。

積極敲門,來台築夢

吳鳳的流利中文,源自於2002年在土耳其安卡拉大學修讀漢學系,中華的歷史文化令他著迷不已。吳鳳大一就下定決心,要拿台灣教育部獎學金來台留學。為更深入了解台灣,吳鳳主動到我國駐土耳其代表處表達想認識台灣人的意願。在代表處安排的飯局裡,吳鳳結識了幾位來自台灣的好朋友,彼此除了交換語言,還常常一起出遊。過新曆年時,吳鳳也盡地主之誼邀請台灣朋友到自己家過節,撫慰遊子的思鄉之情。

大學四年都保持優異成績的吳鳳,2006年8月順利申請到獎學金,搭上他人生第一次的飛機,來到相距8,000多公里的台灣。熱!是吳鳳下飛機的第一印象,「熱情」則是他在課本裡沒有感受到的台灣。

來台先學了一年的中文後,吳鳳申請進入師大政治學研究所就讀。吳鳳的論文題目《自強運動背景下中國的軍事現代化與李鴻章的影響》,令人好奇為何要選擇對外國人來說頗有難度的題材,他說:「要了解清朝末年的歷史,才能進而了解現在的台灣。」有鑑於自己在安卡拉就讀時,土耳其很缺乏這方面的資料,吳鳳將研究所兩年所學,再自己鑽研兩年,看了上百份的書籍文獻,不斷地向老師請教,將論文內容以土耳其語擴寫成《中國現代化的歷史》在土耳其出版。

堅持勇闖演藝圈

就讀研究所期間,吳鳳學到更深刻的台灣歷史與文化,課堂之外,台灣的美食小吃、治安好、環境佳,所有他對台灣的想像全化為真實。越了解台灣社會,吳鳳越愛這塊土地,再加上他偶然被找去公視客串演出,初嘗舞台滋味,吳鳳看到外國人在台灣演藝圈的發展潛力。於是他繼續申請就讀師大的教育所博士,為自己爭取留在台灣的時間,同時向各家經紀公司毛遂自薦,但語言文化不同,面試時總被主觀認定不適合亞洲市場,兩年下來,不斷被拒。

即使一個月頂多一、兩個零星的通告機會,工作斷斷續續、酬勞微薄,但吳鳳仍繼續堅持。「當時只要接到通告電話就很開心,也遇過拍兩天外景只拿到500元。」吳鳳表示,「找機會的過程很辛苦,被拒絕很苦,但沒有人相信你,才是真的辛苦。」在台灣找不到發揮的舞台,朋友心疼他像小丑般做著無意義的演出,紛紛勸他回土耳其。但吳鳳不甘心放棄,在土耳其擁有雙學位,會中、英、德、土多種語言,「我知道回土耳其當導遊,賺十幾萬沒問題,可是那太容易了,我想試試看自己可以在台灣做到什麼程度。」於是他將存款妥善分配,租頂樓加蓋的房間,他告訴自己,直到口袋最後一毛錢花完之前,絕不輕易放棄。

金鐘主持在地風土

終於他在2011年9月接到了外景旅遊節目「愛玩客」的主持機會,與經紀公司簽下五年合約。吳鳳成了台灣電視史上第一位,在晚間十點黃金時段主持節目的外國人。吳鳳坦言,演藝圈的汰換率很高,當初製作單位也是抱著試試看的想法,如果觀眾反應不佳,兩到三個月失去新鮮感就換掉。

然而吳鳳過去在土耳其擔任導遊的經驗,讓他很自然地帶著電視機前的觀眾遊覽大街小巷,加上吳鳳對台灣文史的涉略,讓他懂得適時提問,觀眾看節目不單純只看到台灣哪裡好吃、好玩,更藉由吳鳳的主持了解飲食文化與當地的歷史脈絡。雖然中文不若台灣人流利,吳鳳略帶口音的中文,偶爾穿插幾句台語,以外國人的視角提出逗趣的問題,自然不造作的主持方式,深受大眾喜愛。不僅在2012年獲得金鐘獎最佳行腳節目主持人的肯定,也是愛玩客節目自2011年開播至今,唯一一位還在的第一代主持人。

旁人看來出外景很輕鬆,好像邊玩樂還能邊賺錢,但其中的辛苦真的只有當事人知道。幾年前,電影《賽德克‧巴萊》正紅,愛玩客搭上風潮,吳鳳和製作團隊前進南投霧社山區,帶觀眾一探莫那魯道撤退的最後一個戰場──馬赫坡岩窟。這段山路崎嶇難走,沿途不只有高達2,500米、無柵欄遮蔽的斷崖,還有崩塌地、迷霧森林、下切溪谷,吳鳳說難走指數破表,若沒有熟悉路線的原住民帶路,一下子就迷失在山林中。當時他在岩窟裡聽到奇怪聲響,一問之下才知道附近發生土石流,吳鳳說:「不開玩笑,就差300公尺的距離,差點連骨頭都找不到了。」

向世界分享美好台灣

因著節目的關係吳鳳看遍台灣的人文與自然景致。其中他最感興趣的是台灣廟會祭典。親身參與鹽水蜂炮、媽祖遶境等,感受信仰帶給民眾生活的力量。媽祖遶境時上千位信徒匯集,到處都是鞭炮、煙火,還有熱鬧的八家將出巡,吳鳳形容就像嘉年華會,是台灣具代表性的民俗活動,值得向國際宣傳。

除了讓台灣民眾在習以為常的事物中發覺美好。吳鳳也帶著外景團隊到土耳其,介紹自己家鄉的人文風土。像是文化大使般,他還受邀上土耳其當地的新聞節目,分享如何以外國人之姿在台灣演藝圈闖蕩,並帶著精心挑選的布袋戲偶作為伴手禮,讓土耳其民眾一睹台灣文化的風采。

兩年前吳鳳與經紀公司的合約到期,點子多、行動力強的他決定不續約,希望與妻子陳錦玉自由選擇做些對社會有貢獻的活動。即使旁人看來收入不高,但對吳鳳而言,不追求短暫絢燦,他更看重未來長遠的影響。例如他與遠見《未來少年》雜誌合作的連載專欄「跟吳鳳遊台灣」,由吳鳳設計生動有趣的故事讓學童認識台灣。吳鳳表示,目前已推出第一話「天使的眼淚──嘉明湖」,未來還會陸續介紹台灣生態、民俗等,敬請大家期待。

愛家,理所當然

作為演藝人員,吳鳳希望以自己的方式帶給大家開心和正能量。吳鳳表示:「我把自己當成鑽石,放在適合的地方仔細琢磨,才能發光。」隨著網路新媒體的興起,吳鳳也從去年開始經營自己的YouTube頻道,以簡單的器材記錄生活,並自學剪輯,一點一滴摸索。即使工作再忙,吳鳳仍堅持一周至少上傳三支影片,以記錄生活的方式,和民眾分享他的心情與想法。

例如吳鳳帶著土耳其親友搭捷運逛台北市立動物園,小朋友看到貓熊的喜悅;也有陪老婆做產檢,紀錄新生命誕生的點滴。或是吳鳳夜宿台北車站,以紀錄片的方式關懷街友,他甚至揪心地在鏡頭前落淚。又或是拍攝自己上醫院的經歷,向大眾介紹台灣健保與醫療的進步。頻道裡的影片還會加上土耳其的字幕,透過網路的傳播,讓更多人看到台灣。

已經出過《土包子愛台灣》、《來自土耳其的邀請函》兩本書的吳鳳,第一本描寫他眼中驚奇有趣的台灣;第二本則是以生動又深刻的文字,讓台灣人認識他成長的土耳其。最近他則是以家庭的視角,將傳承自阿姨的土耳其家常菜,以飲食文學的書寫,將土耳其人的餐桌搬到大眾面前。

從隻身一人來台求學,如今吳鳳已在台灣娶妻生子、落地生根。當了爸爸的吳鳳,台灣更像他的家了,喜歡自己的家、包容家的優點與缺點,對他來說理所當然。每當有人謝謝他愛台灣,吳鳳就會覺得納悶,台灣本來就有很多值得大家驕傲的地方,只是台灣人自己不知道,所以他想透過自己的方式,讓大家看見這塊土地的珍貴。

去年吳鳳取得台灣身分證,吳鳳的爸爸終於放下心來,表示兒子在台灣不只有人照顧,而且生活更有保障了。雖然今年初吳爸爸已因病過世,相信他會在天上看顧著在台灣踏實生活的吳鳳一家。                                                    

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近期文章

EN

Spreading Positive Energy

Rifat Karlova

Chen Chun-fang /photos courtesy of Rifat Karlova /tr. by Geof Aberhart

Originally from the Turkish city of İzmit, Rifat Karlova has had a number of identities. Better known to Taiwanese by his Chinese stage name Wu Feng, he has been an exchange student, a TV extra, a husband, a Golden-Bell-winning travel-show host, and now, a card-carrying Taiwanese citizen. Through his eyes and his experiences, Rifat has helped Taiwanese better understand their homeland, and alongside them he continues to uncover the true beauty of Ilha Formosa.


 

Having just wrapped up an interview, Rifat Karlova stands up to greet us: “Sorry to keep you waiting! I don’t have a lot of free time at the moment, so I lined up two interviews in a row,” he says in impeccable Mandarin. “Yi shi er niao!” The Chinese idiom, which translates to “two birds with one stone,” comes seemingly entirely naturally to him despite his foreign origins.

Coming to Taiwan

In 2002, Rifat began studying sinology at Ankara University, and during that first year  he set his mind on getting a scholarship to study in Taiwan from Taiwan’s Ministry of Education. Wanting to learn more about the country, he headed to the Taipei Economic and Cultural Mission in Ankara to meet some Taiwanese. Over dinners, he made a number of Taiwanese friends, not only exchanging languages but also making plans to travel together. He even invited his new friends to his home for Chinese New Year to help them feel a little less homesick so far away from home.

Finally, in August 2006, he successfully got his scholarship and booked his first ever flight, destination Taiwan. “Hot!” That was Rifat’s first impression of Taiwan as he stepped off the plane. The second was being bowled over by the hospitality of the Taiwanese people, something none of his textbooks had given him a sense of.

After spending his first year in Taiwan focusing on learning Chinese, Rifat then applied to National Taiwan Normal University’s graduate program in polit­ical science. His choice of thesis topic, “The Military Modernization of China during the Self-Strengthening Movement (1861‡1895) and Li Hong Zhang’s Impact,” is surprising. “You really need to understand the history of the late Qing to be able to properly understand modern Taiwan,” he says. After two years of graduate study and another two of independent research, he built on his ­thesis and published A History of Chinese Modernization in his native Turkish.

Breaking into entertainment

During his graduate studies, Rifat gained a deeper understanding of Taiwan’s history and culture. Outside the classroom, meanwhile, he was struck by how good the food, public safety, and environment were. The more he learned about Taiwan, the more he fell in love with it. Then he was sought out by the Public Television Service to have a guest role on a television show, and from his first time in the spotlight he saw the potential for foreign performers in Taiwan. He began contacting various agencies, but because of cultural and linguistic differences the interviews did not go his way, and for two years he was turned down for being “not suitable for the Asian market.”

Even though he would only get at most one or two opportunities here and there each month, Rifat stuck it out. “I was always so happy to get the phone call,” he says, “even though I’d only get about NT$500 for two days of outdoor shooting sometimes.” With opportunities scarce in Taiwan, his friends began encouraging him to head back to Turkey. “I knew I could go back and make good money in Turkey as a tour guide, but that seemed like taking the easy way out. I wanted to see how far I could go in Taiwan.” And so he budgeted out his money, rented a rickety rooftop apartment, and committed to sticking to his plans until he was down to his last dollar.

For whom the Golden Bell tolls

Finally, in September 2011, he was given the opportun­ity to host the travel show iWalker, signing a five-year contract with his agent. Thus Rifat became the first foreigner to host a television show in Taiwanese prime time history.

Having previously worked as a tour guide in Turkey and studied Taiwanese history, he knew how to ask the right questions at the right time, ensuring that audiences didn’t just see where to get good food or have a good time, but also learned more about the local culture and history. With his slightly accented Mandarin, his ability to weave in occasional sentences in Taiwanese, and his natural and unpretentious hosting style, Rifat was quickly embraced by viewers. In 2012, he was honored with the Golden Bell Award for Best Travel Show Host.

Shooting a travel show on location might look easy from the outside, like you’re making money for just going out and having fun, but only those involved actually understand the real hard work it entails. Several years ago, when the “Seediq Bale” films were packing theaters, iWalker rode their popu­larity by sending Rifat and a production team out into the mountains of Wu­she in Nan­tou County to explore Mona Ru­dao’s final battleground at the Ma­hebo grotto. The mountain roads were hard going, winding around cliffs, past landslides, and into misty woods. Without a local indigenous guide to lead them, they could easily have ended up lost. While they were in the grotto, they heard a strange noise, and eventually found out there had been a landslide nearby. “No joke, if we’d been 300 meters away from where we were, they’d never even find our bones.”

Sharing Taiwan with the world

Rifat has seen virtually everything the people and places of Taiwan have to offer. What fascinates him most, though, is Taiwan’s temple festivals. He’s even been part of the Yan­shui Beehive Fireworks Festival and the Baishatun Mazu Pilgrimage. For the latter, thousands of believers were gathered, letting off firecrackers and fireworks everywhere as the Eight Generals marched; for Rifat, it felt like a carnival.

He’s also taken his team to Turkey to introduce his homeland. He was even invited onto a local news show there to share his experiences as a foreigner in Taiwan’s entertainment industry. To give Turkish audiences a little taste of Taiwanese culture, he brought along a specially selected po-te-hi puppet as a souvenir.

Two years ago, his contract with his agent came up for renewal. He decided against it, hoping to give himself and his wife Rynne Chen a bit more freedom in how they choose to contribute to Taiwanese society. For example, he has been working with Global Kids Monthly, writing a serialized feature entitled “Traveling Taiwan with Wu Feng,” which uses lively and engaging stories of his own design to help children learn more about Taiwan. Right now, he says, the first chapter, “The Angel’s Tears—Jiaming Lake,” has been published, and in the future he plans to go on to introduce things like Taiwan’s ecology and folk cultures.

Home is where the heart is

As an entertainer, Rifat hopes to be able to spread happiness and positive energy in his own way. Last year he started his own YouTube channel, recording parts of his life with simple equipment and learning to do the editing himself. Even when work is at its busiest, he still takes time out to upload at least three videos a week and share his thoughts and feelings with the public.

Videos so far have included taking his Turkish friends and family to the Taipei Zoo on the Metro, capturing the joy of the children as they get to see the pandas, and a night at Taipei Railway Station documenting what things are like for the homeless people there, something that brought him to tears on camera. Another video captured his experience at a hospital, showcasing Taiwan’s National Health Insurance system and advances in medical care. His videos have Turkish subtitles, making use of the global nature of the Internet to introduce Taiwan to people in his homeland.

Rifat has also written two books, and he is currently writing another one introducing Turkish home cooking to Taiwanese, sharing his family’s recipes and investigating them through the lens of food writing.

He just came here to study, but today he has settled down and has a wife and daughters. Now that he is a father, he says, Taiwan is more like home than ever, and as his home, it is only natural that he would not only love it, but also embrace both its strengths and its flaws. Whenever someone thanks him for showing so much love for Taiwan, Rifat is baffled. There’s so much to be proud of here, if only more local people knew. And thus he has made it his mission to show them, in his own way.

Last year, Rifat was granted Taiwanese citizen­ship, something which finally gave his father some peace of mind. Although the elder Karlova passed away from illness earlier this year, he is undoubtedly smiling down on his son as he continues to make a life, and a family, in Taiwan.   

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