Breaking into the music industry is a serious challenge on its own. Now imagine having to break down a barrier that has existed forever as well. Such is the challenge facing Adrienne Lau, who is hoping to become the very first Asian singer to capture the American pop scene.
"I think a lot of it has to do with being in the right place at the right time," says the 22-year-old native of Hong Kong. "Like now hip-hop is mainstream. There has to be a starting point in all of this. I think this is the right time for me personally."
As a child, Lau spent a great deal of time traveling back and forth between Hong Kong and Los Angeles. She attended an English school while growing up and began participating in choir and school plays at a very early age.
"I've always known that I wanted to become an entertainer," admits the multi-lingual Lau, who speaks English, Mandarin and Cantonese. "It's been a goal of mine ever since I was young."
After finishing school in Hong Kong, Lau went to college at UCLA, where she had visions of starting her entertainment career upon enrollment.
"I told my parents that I wanted to be a pop star and they were like, 'No, you have to finish your education,'" she recalls. "So I said, 'Well, can I major in acting or music then?' They said, 'Nope, you have to go through normal studies.' My parents always told me to finish my education first, before I became a full-time entertainer."
Throughout high school and while in college, Lau took acting classes and voice lessons. It proved to be valuable as she went about obtaining a double major in communications and sociology at UCLA. In fact, as soon as she finished her studies at UCLA, Global Village Records was standing by to sign her.
"Literally, one thing led to another," Lau recalls. "I was in school and I was doing some modeling and some films. I was also doing some hosting. [Global Village] wanted me to do some songs and then they loved the style and everything, and then I got signed, pretty much right away.
"When I look back, it's kind of like a Cinderella story. Everything seemed to fall into place. That was always the plan and it came through. My dream came true."
Lau went about releasing her very first album with Global Village in January of 2005. Her writers and producers included The Co-Stars (Tiara Marie and Fantasia), Belawa Mohammed (Christina Aguilera, Britney Spears), Storm (Usher) and Damon Elliot (Destiny's Child, Jessica Simpson, Beyonce, Pink, Mya and Macy Gray).
"The first album was a cool experience for me to learn," explains Lau. "I did a lot of collaborations with very, very experienced producers and writers. We did a lot of songs and that was kind of like a test drive. It was a chance to test the public and see how they would react to different kinds of sounds."
Part of the reason that was necessary is because Lau has nobody to pattern herself after.
"I couldn't follow anybody else's marketing plan," she says. "I had to take my own road, because there's nobody else that I can follow or copy."