The first thing you notice about Jirakit Thawornwong is his eyes. Bright and beguiling, there’s a magnetism to them. Drawing you in, they hold in their depths – but just when you’re about to drown, you’re pulled back by his smile. Welcoming and warm, there’s a hint of mischief hiding in the left-hand corner.
Better known by his nickname Mek, I first became aware of the Thai actor when I discovered the series Dark Blue Kiss. While he wasn’t a central character, there was something about him, and I wanted to know more. So, like Dorothy, taking her first steps on the yellow brick road, I found myself lost in the wonderful world of Thai dramas. With Mek as my guide, I found some genuinely fantastic series, including Kiss, The Gifted, The Player, Sky in My Heart… the list goes on.
Stepping into 2023 as an independent artist and he couldn’t be more ready.
“I’ve always wanted to be a singer since I was young,” he starts the interview with his trademark smile. “I started competing in several singing contests in Thailand when I was in high school. Then I had a chance to audition for a TV show called The Star. There are 8 contestants each year. I got to be the last 16 contestants, but I still had air time. Then CEO of GMMTV, Mr. Sataporn, saw me on TV and asked if I wanted to sign a contract with him as an artist. Back then, GMMTV focused on music and TV shows, so I started off as a singer and MC. And then GMMTV started making TV series and short films, and that’s how I became an actor. My first TV series is Room Alone, but most people know me from Ugly Duckling.”
In the series, Mek portrayed Zero, a notorious troublemaker who uses his fists before his words – a common theme for several of his characters, though he doesn’t seem anything like that in real life.
“The first role I got was a short film of the song called Yah Tut Sin Kon Tung Lok Dui Poo Chai Kon Diow,” He recalls. “I was very nervous. The first scene in my life was a kissing scene with a lady 18 years older than me. It wasn’t a normal kiss.. it was ummm…” He stops, blushing. “You know what I mean, right?” He laughs.
“Maybe it’s because I have some understanding of acting. I don’t feel nervous these days,” he smirks mischievously. “Especially kissing scenes!”
When it comes to the numerous roles he’s played over the years, Mek reveals that his favorite (and most challenging) was the character of Matt in the GMMTV drama The Player.
“Even though he’s a bit manipulative, he is willing to sacrifice and do anything for the person he loves,” he reflects. “You know… There is no pure evil or pure good in people. Sometimes, when we fall in love, we might do these things unconsciously. So I believe Matt truly loves his lover, Pitch.”
Anyone who hasn’t seen the 2021 drama can view it on GMMTV’s official Youtube. It’s worth the watch.
“This role [of Matt] was very challenging because his thoughts, actions, and how he approaches others are completely different from mine,” he continues earnestly. “So I did lots of research by going to parties and spending more time with my best friend, who I think had the potential to be Matt. I spent lots of time observing and trying to understand how and why he did certain things, including tiny details like how to walk, talk, and pick up things.”
When it comes to the LGBTQ+ community, which several of the characters Mek has played have been a part of, his answer was not quite what I was expecting in the best possible way.
“Of course, the BL/GL series opens the door for people to understand LGBTQ+ rights,” he starts thoughtfully. “But for me, BL/GL mostly portrays a particular side and story of the LGBT community and often focuses on pretty-looking people and how easy it is for LGBT couple in BL/GL to fall in love and is accepted by society rather than the situation that real-world LGBTQ+ face. I believe movies/series that directly portray real-world LGBTQ+ issues may help with LGBTQ+ rights more than BL/GL, for example, The Boys in the Band (2020), which is a movie that I really love.”
The film, produced by Ryan Murphy, is based on the 1968 play of the same name by Mart Crowley – and can currently be streamed on Netflix.
Finally, I take a breath. It’s time to address the elephant in the room. Late last year, Mek left GMMTV after nearly a decade of representation. From his recent Instagram posting, it’s clear the departure was not a contentious one, but it’s still best to step lightly into these topics. So I ask as softly but as bluntly as possible what it’s been like since leaving the entertainment mega-corp for life as an independent artist.
“The first difference I notice being an independent actor is that I can design my own image without the need of approval from the company,” he says with sincerity. “There are lots of things I need to do on my own such as create Instagram content and contacting others for jobs,” he continues. “It is like you are a baby bird, and being under a company is like having a bird mom feeding you, but you cannot find your own food until your mom feeds you, and sometimes you have to worry you will be starved if your mom disappears or won’t feed you anymore. But being independent is like a bird that can fly and find your own food whenever you are hungry. You can find food as much as you want, but it is riskier. Sometimes you might not find food at all. But I love risks,” he smirks.
Regarding his future acting ambitions, romance films are on his mind. “I loved watching all kinds of romantic movies growing up, but I haven’t acted in [this type of] a movie before,” he blushes. “Ohhh!” He adds with excitement. “It just came to my mind that I want to play as a serial killer too!”
I’m not going to lie. I would love to see Mek play a villain.
“I want more challenging roles and to play in movies and theatre. I played in theatre before and really enjoy it, so I’m looking forward to more opportunities. If I had the chance, I would want to act in foreign films. And for music, I’m making songs both as a rock band name Saint After Six and as a solo artist. Stay tuned!”
Hey, That’s my line!
One thing that’s clear after talking with Mek is how passionate he is about his craft. While yes, he’s entertaining and playful, earnest and hardworking. For more on Mek and to keep up with his journey, follow his social media accounts: Twitter and Instagram.
More soon, so as Mek already said….