Pioneering Asia’s entertainment market, Trevor Lai loves creating stories to inspire all generations through his animation and creative studio, UP Studios.

What’s your story?
As the CEO and Creative Director of UP Studios, I create characters and stories with our team in the form of animated films, books, toys, apps and more for families around the world. I wrote, illustrated and published my first children’s book at the age of 17, and just published my 18th book. Most marketing and branding industry colleagues also know me as the host of the business talkshow Thoughtful China. I was Vice President of Canada’s largest communications company in China prior to following my dreams and setting up UP Studios. Among our most exciting accomplishments, we are proud to be the first studio selected by Apple to present our creative work in flagship stores across China, and will be publishing a major book series with Harry Potter’s publisher Bloomsbury next year based on our popular Piggy in Love character.

What excites you most about your industry?
Creating stories that can inspire generations of fans is a dream come true, and China’s entertainment market is entering its golden age. We have the opportunity to bring a level of creativity and quality to original IP in China the way Walt Disney pioneered the industry in America.

What’s your connection to Asia?
My parents were from China and I spent parts of my childhood in Taiwan and Hong Kong.

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Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
Shanghai, as it’s become a destination of choice for businesses across all sectors.

What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
I’ve received a lot of great advice over the years from a variety of wise people. One of the most often repeated pearls is, ‘trust your gut instinct. It is right more often than reason’.

Who inspires you?
Walt Disney, John Lasseter, Steven Spielberg, JJ Abrams, Warren Buffett, Connor MacDavid. People who love what they do and prove their excellence over time are great examples to learn from.

What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
I recently had the privilege of spending a bit of time with David Beckham. He impressed my friends and I with his incredible manners, charm, consideration and patience. It was a sparkling reminder of how no matter who you are and how highly others may think of you, being kind to others is a trait we can all cultivate and apply daily.

If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
Appreciate time with loved ones more, spend less time worrying about everything else.

How do you unwind?
I love working out and I train 4-5 days a week, including playing in an ice hockey league.  

Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
The islands in Thailand like Yao Noi and Phuket have lots of resorts that offer a balance of luxury and seclusion that give my mind space to breath and recharge.  Painting outdoors under the sun is one of my favourite things to do on a holiday.  

Everyone in business should read this book:
“The Art of Power” by Thich Nhat Hanh

Shameless plug for your business:
UP Studios creates beloved characters and stories that come to life through animation, apps, toys and events with world-class greatest partners.  UP Studios is a leading animation and creative studio in China, and was recently selected by Animation Magazine as one of the “Top 25 Companies in the World” to watch. We’ve created characters like BOOMi and Piggy in Love that have garnered partnerships with Apple, Tencent and Holiday Inn. Discover our work at and on Instagram/Facebook.

How can people connect with you?
upstudiosworld @ Instagram
upstudiosworld @ Facebook
[email protected]

Twitter handle?

This interview was part of the Callum Connect’s column found on The Asian Entrepreneur:


Callum Laing invests and buys small businesses in a range of industries around Asia.  He has previously started, built and sold half a dozen businesses and is the founder & owner of Fitness-Buffet a company delivering employee wellness solutions in 12 countries.  He is a Director of, amongst others, Key Person of Influence.  A 40 week training program for business owners and executives.

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