Sentimental Throwback: This was my first ever commercial 7 years ago for Australia’s Next Top Model Cycle 7.
It’s easy to look at my Instagram and see that I’m doing well. But I’d love to give you more insight on this amazing yet hard journey. I’m ever so grateful for having the opportunity to be where I am and enjoy what I do. And I know I’m only touching the surface.
Where it all began
I grew up wanting to model ever since I was 14. Maybe because I was always told I was tall so I should be a model. Never did I ever think I’d do it for a living. It was a dream.
I remember taking my first modelling try-out class when I was 14-15 years old. This company was in Kings Cross- totally exploiting young girls. Asking girls to pay $400-600 for ‘modelling training.’ My mum, being the traditional Chinese parent, thought that was enough to make up her mind that she never wanted me to be in that industry.. and instead focus on studying to achieve marks to be a lawyer and doctor. My modelling dream was torn to shreds. It was blessing in disguise as looking back I was pretty young and pretty naive at the time.
Acting never was a thing for me.. I was a card extra in an ‘Alice in Wonderland’ play in year 9 and remembered looking at the lead girls being stunned at how confident and beautiful they looked on stage… And saying to myself I will never be on stage or a lead.
Fast track a few years later… At 18 years old, I started to grow a bit of confidence after discovering make up and having a few friends who threw some compliments here and there… And would constantly take really BAD posing photos at home and send them to modelling agency’s. Just to let you know. I was rejected by all of them. I mean ALL of them.
I was working in Sportsgirl and a really lovely girl approached me and said she was practicing photography and would love to take my photo. Jumping the wagon without thinking, I said sure.. she gave me her business card and I did my first modelling time-for-print shoot. I remember posting up photos on Facebook. Half the people posting loving comments whilst some close friends giving me some backhanded comments.
Needless to say, I was excited and with some encouragement from another beautiful friend who worked at Sportgirl with me, tried out for Australias Next Top Model Cycle 7.
I surprisingly got shortlisted .. but with that came a loss of a couple of people I thought were my close friends, as well as a long term boyfriend. I was pretty heartbroken but also excited at this new adventure. I got into the top 100 Australia wide which seemed like a huge achievement at the time. After being evicted on episode 1, I was called in to do the Billboard and the promo-ad. Yep, you guessed it.. for free.
And from there, did freelance modelling where basically I did modelling for free in exchange for shots. I thankfully didn’t run into too many crazy situations, but looking back.. I had no agent.. no manager to watch out for my safety.. and I was getting in contact with strangers who I was hoping weren’t scamming me with fake photography photos.
During this, I applied every year for modelling agencies from the age of 18-20/21. Rejected by all of them because they already had their token ‘asian’ on their books.. I figured I’ll give modelling the flick and become a physiotherapist.
Eventually the fire of being a modelling never went away, so I kept on reapplying to modelling agencies- being rejected until a commercial agency accepted me and I kept it on the side whilst working full time. Not thinking anything would eventuate… I very reluctantly went to castings if they were somewhat convenient to attend to on my days off.
Somehow God chased me down and surrounded me with actors .. which somehow made me interested in taking acting classes- I struggled a lot due to my anxiety and low self esteem issues. I was highly comfortable around a photography camera because of freelance modelling.. But somehow adding words and emotions just was not at my forte…
I persevered. I found myself liking the classes after slowly regaining more confidence. And little by little, my desire to become an actor overrode my desire to model.
I quit my full time physio job, commercial modelling work started flowing to my surprise whilst I kept refining my acting skills – doing short courses here and there.
I started getting paid for commercial modelling work- and with that added extra pressures. I was used to having just the photographer and me.. but now it being a professional job, I had more than 10-20 people on set with clients who were making sure they were getting the photo that they were happy with.
I would say modelling really helped me with having a thick skin, because with the added benefits of loving my job as an actor- comes lots and lots of rejection. Most if not all are not personal. You get turned down for thousands of reasons: your skin, height, nationality, skill, voice, looking like someone that they may have hated or liked… And modelling really taught me to have a thick skin.
But it did take a turn last year in 2017, where I was getting increasingly frustrated. Modelling work stopped because I was becoming just another “asian model” in someone’s books. Acting hadn’t taken off.. and in June last year, I contemplated throwing it all in and giving the fashion/entertainment industry up all together.
Low and behold, on my last audition that I didn’t think I’d end up getting.. I landed a role in Dead Lucky and so thankful that I didn’t throw it all in.
I’m so thankful that I had God’s promise to hold onto and the unstable life of not having a consistent job has made me lean more into God and trust that despite the lack of work. He was still working on refining me as a person… and subsequently making me into a better actor and a better human being in general.
I’m also very thankful he didn’t let me out in the entertainment industry any sooner, as I was far too immature and naive.
So why am I saying all of this?
I would love to encourage you that it’s easy to look at the final product and say what a fine and dandy life people have. Most of the time it took a lot of sacrifice, rejection, blood and sweat. I know I’m not nowhere where I want to be, but I have faith that God has it all planned out.. as he has he had it until now. Never in a million years would I have known as a teenager that I would have done modelling or acting.
I would like to encourage you.. if there is a passion or fire in you..let it burn! You may fail a couple or more than a couple of times. You may have friends who you thought will be there, not be there.. people that will kill your dreams.. people that don’t believe in your visions. Whether it be a business, career path.. I say STICK TO IT and DREAM BIG.
God put it in your heart for a reason and it’ll happen! Keep on swimming. Keep on trusting and leaning on God. Love yourself and love others. We don’t have to compete against each other, instead we should always support each other.
We don’t know what someone else has gone through to get to where they are.
So let’s celebrate in each other’s successes, encourage and love one another ❤️🙏🏻
Love you all x