From Ipswich school boy to Chinese talk show host and internet pop sensation, the journey to international stardom is a dream come true for Griffith University languages graduate Harry Harding.
Harry, a finalist in the 2014 Arts, Education & Law Young Outstanding Alumnus Awards, has been working as a journalist and presenter at GDTV World channel in Guangzhou, South China for the past three years, where he hosts a talk show, a travel show and a documentary program.
“While the talk show is in English, the other two are in Mandarin so they really test my language skills,’’ he said.
“Fortunately my Mandarin studies at Griffith’s School of Languages and Linguistics gave me an excellent grounding in the language.”
So how did the former West Moreton Anglican College school captain and swimming champion come to be working in a city with 13 million people?
In a true case of being in the right place at the right time, Harry’s break came while holidaying in China. He posted a number of cover videos online in Chinese and a producer at GDTV saw them, liked Harry’s style and offered him a job.
“It happened so quickly and before I knew it I had a job. I never thought when I finished university that this is where I would be working. I’m having so much fun.”
“Griffith gave me the language and communications skills to be able to tackle this enormous challenge, and communicate effectively with guests and co-workers from all different backgrounds and cultures.”
During his time with the TV station, Harry interviewed a diverse range of guests, from well-known singers and actors, politicians and diplomats to farmers and ordinary Chinese citizens.
“I’ve learnt how to adjust my interviewing style to suit the talent,’’ he said.
Such is Harry’s prodigious talent, that rival Hong Kong-based station HKSTV has poached him, offering him a new position as a television presenter.
But being a talk show host is not all that Harry, known as Hazza to fans, is famous for in China.
A talented musician, he has also released two singles on the Chinese new music charts. The first one, Let Go, reached number 1 and stayed on the Guangzhou New Music Charts for 11 weeks. His videos have gained 50 million hits on Chinese video sharing websites.
His second single No Worries, is currently number six on the charts and has been featured on the front page of Chinese i-Tunes equivalent, QQ music.
Despite his fame, Harry said he he’s only occasionally recognised on the streets of China.
“When I’m on air I wear good clothes but when I’m not working I wear my cap and thongs and I’m pretty nondescript.
“But when I do get recognised, it’s always a buzz.”
LAL Alumni Coordinator Chirahu Tsurutani said Harry’s success was testament to his determination and talent.
“Becoming an entertainer or a musician is tough in your native language so imagine having to do that in a second language?.
“Harry links language, culture and communication at an international level, while delighting people with his music and warmth.”
For Harry, if he can continue to combine his media and music careers, life is sweet.
Learn more about Harry’s journey here on YouTube – http://youtu.be/iBdYTd8kSvc