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Wednesday, 15 April 2020 11:57

Daniel Hansen

Nature Boy

Reigning Mr Tourism World Danial Hansen is big on connecting with nature

Article from the Sun daily by S. Indra Sathiabalan (posted on 23 Mar 2020)

DANIAL HANSEN, 25, was crowned Mr Tourism World in Malta this January. This handsome young bodybuilder and model who aspires to be an actor is also passionate about saving animals, especially those on the brink of extinction.

Born in Kuala Lumpur, and having lived in Abu Dhabi for four years, Danial, whose father is a pilot, has had the privilege of travelling to places in the US and Europe.

Danial is currently balancing his title commitments and his studies.

During an interview early in March at Pavilion Hotel followed by a photo shoot, Danial told us how he was always keen on both football and bodybuilding.

When he turned 22, he realised that he was not really cut out for football, and decided to concentrate on bodybuilding.

Lithe and muscular, Danial maintains that he does not take steroids, and that what you see is the result of hard work and a good diet.

Danial’s exotic good looks are thanks to his parents: his dad is half-Malay and half-Danish, while mum is an ethnic Chinese from Sabah.

As part of his reign, he will be travelling around the world, promoting tourism and culture.

What inspired you to get into bodybuilding?

“My father. He is an amazing father and I love him to death, but he is very, very strict when it comes to bodybuilding.

“But I am also thankful for that – because of him, I look like this.”

“I am very lucky in life. When I first started entering bodybuilding competitions, someone saw my post on Instagram and suggested I try modelling.

“After that, I did tried modelling and someone scouted me and said I should try out for pageants. One thing led to another, not because I wanted to, but because someone discovered me.”

How did you end up in Mr Tourism World?

“I was competing in Bachelor of Malaysia (BOM) [in June] 2019. I felt that was the best male pageant. This year, they picked seven winners. Each of us were given different titles depending on what our national director felt we best represented. They picked me [to participate in] Mr Tourism World [in January this year].”

Did you attend any bootcamp to prepare?

“I can honestly say I didn’t have to learn much. If you come into a pageant, you must know what you want. For BOM, you must know what you want to bring to the pageant. For Mr Tourism World, it is about how you promote tourism to the world.

“Since I was representing Malaysia, I did my research to promote Malaysia to the world.

“I also wore attire that was inspired by the Murut tribe, with elements of other Malaysian culture.”

What is your take on travelling to other countries?

“At one point in my life I thought Malaysia was my only world. When I went to Paris, it opened the doors of the world to me. I feel people should travel.”

How should visitors to a foreign country behave?

“I think tourists should always visit the popular places and see what the culture in that country is like.

“What I think they should not do is disrespect it, like those tourists who took off their clothes on Gunung Kinabalu.

“When you go to a new place to enjoy the food and the culture, you must also respect it.”

How often do you work out?

“I work out for three hours every day, six days a week. [Followed by] one day of rest, which is important.”

Do you follow a special diet?

“My diet is so boring. In the morning I just eat oats with protein powder. For lunch it is chicken with quinoa and vegetables, and for dinner it is fruits and protein bar. That is all.”

What is next for you?

“After I fulfil my Mr Tourism World [obligations], I want to go into acting. But first, I have to finish my degree.”

What is the cause close to your heart?

“While other contestants were talking about tourism, I spoke about animal extinction. When the last Sumatran rhino in Sabah died, it had an impact on me.

“Turns out the Tourism Minister of Sabah follows my mother on Instagram. [She] is trying to push a law where any animal is mistreated or killed anywhere, the perpetrators will be punished severely. I wish to support her and also bring awareness about animal extinction in Sabah and the rest of Malaysia.”

Published in Biographies
Thursday, 23 January 2020 11:52

Naomi Stothard

Incredible imagination

Article from the Sun daily by S. Tamarai Chelvi (posted on 23 Jan 2019)

STRIKINGLY beautiful Naomi Stothard, a 24-year-old freelance model captures everyone’s attention as she walks into Starbucks for our interview.

BUT beyond her exotic beauty, Stothard – a psychology degree graduate – has an incredible imagination and is also a self-taught make-up artist.

As a child, the Scottish-Malaysian Stothard had trouble sleeping after watching horror movies. The scary faces lingered in her mind.

Ironically, those scary faces became her obsession, leading her to create ‘characters’ or ‘personas’ based on her own imagination.

“My passion has always been in the creative arts,” Stothard explained. “I like strange, sensual, creepy art. What I love doing is creating my own.”

She would create the characters with makeup, as well as the costumes to fit the character.

To complete the look, Stothard works with photographers to take photos or videos of her creative makeup.

“I believe in telling my story using more than just words, that’s why I choose to use makeup and modeling to bring all my characters to life,” she said.

What attracted you to makeup?

“It is a funny story. Actually, I had insomnia when I was 18 years old and I wouldn’t sleep for days. I started to have an obsession with makeup. So, I [followed] tutorials by make-up gurus from YouTube.

“Literally, I learned overnight. I watched these videos and I practiced makeup every day. Coincidently, I had a few friends who were photographers. They asked me if I could help out with makeup and I said ‘yes’. That is how I started.

“Since I was a child, I loved horror movies. I used to watch and get very scared and be unable to sleep because of the scary faces. Obviously, when I grew up, those faces became more fun than scary. When I learned how to do makeup, I always wanted to try it on myself.”

Do you love doing makeup?

“It is a passion for me, and it started as a hobby. I love it and I prefer doing makeup as a personal project and not as a job. I did makeup for commercials [as well as] for my friends who are photographers.

“About five to six years ago, I started to do makeup for photoshoots and weddings, but I found out that I didn’t really enjoy it more than a photography project, which is abstract and less structured.”

How do you come up with your characters?

“It is very abstract. Usually, it starts with a feeling or an idea in my head. Sometimes, it is from a book I read or something I watched, a movie character or even a picture. Sometimes, I like to look at paintings by unknown or the ‘underground’ people (artists).

“I will look at and it will give me a feeling. It is a very abstract thought, not really a shade or dimension. If it is a very strong feeling, I would start putting a ‘face’ on it. I would give it a ‘look’ or even a name.

“It starts from that and once I complete on the thought, I will try to make the face come true, by using make-up. It is not just make-up artistry but whole look creations. All my personas have meanings behind them.”

How did you get into modelling?

“I was four years old when I started to model for an American brand ... I did not enjoy it at all ... It was very rigid and it got very tiring as I had to keep changing clothes.

“When I was 17 years old my friend, a photographer, approached me for a photoshoot. I was a bit reluctant at first, but he told me that it would be fun and it would be [set around] a jungle and waterfall. I gave it a shot, and I found out that I preferred such photoshoots.

“I loved it because there were no restriction. It was almost completely based on passion. I get to work with my talented and passionate friends. We have a mutual love for creative photography.”

Tell us about your love for animals.

“I love animals so much. Animals are innocent and purely instinctive. I admire the innocence of dogs, as they love you forever no matter who you are, or what you do. I wish I could save every animal, but I can’t.

“I used to have pets. I had a spider, a frog, a snake, a dog, a cat, a hamster, mice, guinea pigs, a rabbit and a lot of fish.

“I will go to a bird shop and buy as many as I can and I just set them free. Last year, I bought 70 birds ... These were not exotic birds, they were just small brown birds.

“One day, when I am financially successful, I would like to have a home dedicated to [different] types of animals ... I want to fund the animal house [and provide] caretakers [and] nurses.”

You also create your own jewellery.

“I collect precious and semi-precious stones such as amethyst and rose quartz, and create pendants using wire-wrapping techniques.

“I like to make jewellery, pendants, and dream-catchers as gifts for family and friends. I never sell them to anyone as they are personal.”

Published in Biographies
Tuesday, 06 August 2019 12:33

Anna Jobling

A model life

Article from the Sun daily by Bissme. S (posted on 23 July 2019)

THE moment Anna Jobling walks into the Coffee Bean outlet at Bangsar Village II, all eyes were fixed on her. The beautiful 18-year-old Kuala Lumpur lass of mixed parentage has a magnetic charm.

She has been modelling for the past three years, and last year, she won two beauty pageant titles. However, Anna wants to be more than a pretty face, and aspires to be an actress and a television host.

Did you always wanted to be a model?

“I have always wanted to be a model since I was a kid. I used to take my mother’s makeup and experiment with it. [But] I never thought this dream would become a reality.

“My family was shopping in Ikea when an agent scouted me for TV commercials. [At the time], I was only five years old. But I did not have the confidence to be a model. I was very shy.

“My parents and I did not take the offer seriously. I wanted to focus on my studies, and swimming. I was a competitive swimmer for Selangor at that time.”

When did your journey as a model begin?

“When I was 15, my mother learned that Amber Chia ran a modelling academy, and my mother enrolled me. I learned how to catwalk and how to groom myself. It really boosted my confidence. I began to accept modelling gigs.”

Where will we see you five years from now?

“I have a desire to be a TV host and actress. I do not mind hosting any show. But [I would like to] host an entertainment show where I can be myself.

“As an actress, I would love to play a ‘negative’ character. Some people think I am too sweet. I want to prove them wrong.”

What is the greatest misconception people have about you?

“People think modelling is easy. That all you do is smile in front of the camera.

“Photoshoots can take hours. They can be time consuming and demanding. Once, I had to be on set at 4am for an advertisement shoot.”

What are your strengths and weaknesses as a model?

“I am pretty easy to work with. I take direction very quickly. I am never lazy. I always take criti-cism with an open mind.

“I am fluent in English, and I can speak Malay. But I think I need to brush up on my Malay if I want to act in Malay films.”

Describe your childhood years.

“My father is from the United Kingdom, while my mother is Malay, and from Malacca. I am their only child.

“My father is calm, and my mother keeps me grounded. She makes sure I am on the right path.

“My father works as an engineer in an oil and gas firm, while my mother is my manager.

“I can’t picture myself with a sibling. I enjoy being their only child, and I always got what I wanted. But I was never a demanding child. I love my childhood.”

Do you like working with your mother?

“Yes. I feel safe all the time. She makes sure I am always on top of things and I am never late for my shoots. Sometimes, my mother nags me. But I deserve it.”

What are your other interests?

“I love watching films with friends and family. My favourite genre is horror.

“I love animals. I have 14 cats. All of them were strays I picked up from the street.”

Tell us about your diet and exercise routine.

“I love animals so much that I became a vegan five years ago. I cannot bring myself to eat animals. Besides, I heard there are a lot of hormones being injected into animals these days.

“I [consume] less carbs, too. And I love running and swimming.”

A lot of models develop eating disorders. Did you ever face that problem?

When I first joined the modelling industry, everyone kept telling me that I should lose some weight.

“I did reduce my weight. I watched what I ate. But I’ve never believed that you have to starve yourself to lose weight. You have to look healthy, too.

“If you starve yourself, you will not look healthy. Eating disorders are a serious problem, and we should try to curb them in our industry.”

Published in Biographies
Wednesday, 26 September 2018 11:41

Joanna Joseph

Role model

Article from the Sun daily by S. Indra Sathiabalan (posted on 6 September 2018)

ONCE a victim of bullying, 21 year-old Joanna Joseph is now a beauty queen and model, as well as an anti-bullying activist.

As an only child, Joanna was indulged by her doting parents who gave her whatever she wanted. This included lots of food.

In primary school she weighed 60kg and this made her the target of nasty schoolmates, and even teachers.

By the time she attended secondary school, she weighed 104kg, and was filled with insecurities.

On her first day, she fell during assembly. Instead of helping her, the students and teachers laughed at her. The only friend she had in school was another overweight girl.

The bullying got so bad, that it affected her school attendance.

In an effort to get over her insecurity, Joanna decided to do something about it.

When did you decide to lose weight?

"There came a time when I got fed up with everything and decided to try to lose weight. I was 15."

How did you go about?

"I had an uncle who used to work in the fitness industry. He used to come by my house a lot and tell me ' You know you should lose weight. You will look better, you will feel better.'

"But losing weight is hard. After going to the gym I would still go [eat] nasi goreng. Then I realized [success] was 70% diet and 30% exercise. At one point I said I should be serious about this.

"I told my mom about it and she laughed. I went in the Internet and did a lot of research. I wrote down what to eat, what not to eat."

How long did it take you to lose weight?

About three months. I used to be able to eat nasi goreng for five people in one seating. When I completely cut off rice, it must have been a shock to the system and I started loosing weight drastically. But I was eating healthy, I was not skipping meals.

"It worked. I would work out two hours everyday. I would spend one hour jogging and one hour working out to YouTube videos. It really helped me a lot."

Do you still do that now?

I don't have that much time now but I still watch my food.

How did you become model?

When I lost weight, a lot of photographers approached me and said I should give modelling a try. I was [just 17 and] pretty lost because [I knew] no one in the industry and my parents felt studies were more important.

"But I wanted to try something different. I managed to win a few competitions and things took off from there."

What are you doing now?

"I currently study at MSU in Shah Alam. I am thinking of pursuing psychology or criminology. Something more exciting."

What do you do now as a spokesperson for the anti bullying movement?

"A lot of school call me especially for their International Understanding Day [event]. A school.

"A school recently called me to talk about body shaming. Another school called me to talk about confidence.

"Whenever there is a campaign, school and institutions would call me to talk.

"I am hoping to be able to share my story with more people because I believe there are a lot of people going through it but don't know what to do."

Have you ever met any of your school bullies?

I did meet a few of them. They ignored me and so I ignored them. I don't think they have the courage to come up to me anyway."

What would you say about your younger self?

"When I was younger, I did not love myself. I fell into depression and I would hurt myself a lot. I still get depressed now and then but I cope with it better.

Published in Biographies
Wednesday, 26 July 2017 11:53

Atikah Karim


Malaysian model making a name for herself in New York

Article from the Sun daily by Yee Hannef Esq (posted on 25 July 2017)

GAINING success after winning Ford Models Supermodel of the World Malaysia, Atikah Karim left a very strong first impression in the local fashion scene with her exotic look and rich dark complexion.

After several years of conquering local fashion runways and magazines, she decided to move her career to New York City where she is now based. Similar buzz ensues when she booked several big runway shows like Ralph Lauren, Costume National, Libertine and Banana Republic, just to name a few.

Despite her sizeable amount of success stateside, the Bajau-Bruneian beauty does not consider herself as "huge" yet. She is working hard to further establish her career with hopes of booking campaigns with well-known international brands.

"It is not that easy. Even if I get booked for a big job, there is no guarantee. The booking agent might cancel on me the day before or even on the day when the job is supposed to take place.

"That's just how it works. So far, I have never experienced that. Some big brands have shown interest in quite a number of occasions but unfortunately, they passed. I can't let that affect me so I just move on to the next one."

The 23-year-old remains positive and is taking it one step at a time with great support from her family and boyfriend, Danny Lim, who is also a model. Travelling back to Kuala Lumpur occasionally for jobs, Tiks as she is fondly known among her friends, remains true to herself while taking in all the new experiences she gained abroad.

You started modelling at a very young age. Is it something that you always wanted to do?
I've been modelling since I was 16 and began travelling outside of Malaysia for jobs when I was 21. My first trip was actually London. I've always wanted to become a model when I was a kid. I remember looking at photos of models in fashion magazines and getting all inspired back then when I was still in primary school. I wanted so badly to be just like them. I waited patiently for my time to come and I am truly blessed that it is finally here.

Was it difficult in the beginning?
It was tough definitely. Back in Malaysia, I've been through a lot but luckily for me, I found a little bit of a shortcut because I won the modelling contest that has really opened a lot of doors for me. As I began travelling, I learned more about the industry and it opened up my eyes that winning the competition does not mean anything. I have no choice but to start over as I am still very new in the international fashion scene with a lot more to learn.

What inspired the move to New York?
It is always a dream for all inspiring models to make it huge in New York City. It is also where the money is. Work-wise, it is totally different from back home. I love it here, but I get homesick all the time. Whenever I'm home, I'll try to spend as much time as I can with my family and friends.

Having been to both sides, do you think Malaysian fashion industry is catching up with what is going on globally?
I have to be honest ... our fashion industry is way behind. Although we are trying to do similar things like creating great designs and images, it just happens that there is no soul in it. We are lacking in originality, but surprisingly good at Photoshop.

What does it take for a model to be successful?
I think in order to be a successful model you have to be yourself, remain confident yet humble and also you need to have a lot of patience. 



Published in Biographies
Tuesday, 14 March 2017 14:18

Swarna Naidu

Starlet in the making

Article from the Sun daily by Yee Jie Min (posted on 14 March 2016)

SWARNA Naidu is truly a jane of all trades. The Astro SuperSport host, who is also the third runner-up in last year’s Miss Universe Malaysia pageant, holds a diploma in hotel management and has been modelling since she was 12 years old.

“I have always been into sports, and being on Astro SuperSport has upped my game because I have to know my stuff, which is great. Everyone here is so passionate about what they do that it is not just another job; it is very motivating. There is a lot of room to put your personality into, which I love,” quipped the 18-year-old.

The multitalented lass describes herself as an arty person, and it shows with her background in (classical Indian dance) Bharatanatyam and ballet. She even had a segment to showcase her vocal prowess on hurr. tv, a Malaysian online lifestyle channel and video-streaming platform.

“I personally don’t think you can be good at anything you don’t want to do. I never asked for any of this. “And I am spiritual so I do think the universe works itself out for you. You just need to have conviction in what you want, and it will work out as it has for me,” said the Penangite.

What is it like to be a female sports host?

I have big shoes to fill because they expect you to be something. It is tough, but it pushes me to do well. At the same time, you get a lot of respect being a female in the industry.

Name a challenge of the job, and your approach to overcome it.

There are a lot of impromptu interviews with important people. They keep me on my toes, but I like that I’m always learning. It’s like sitting for an exam – it doesn’t work if you study only the night before. You have to keep revising. Knowing a little about the person makes me feel more comfortable so I know where to go and what to ask.

Who is your sports icon?

Sachin Tendulkar, an Indian cricketer. He used to live really far from the training grounds, but every morning he made it there because he’s so passionate about the sport. I think he is the best cricket player in Indian history. Cricket is one of my first loves, and he really shaped my character.

Tell us about your beauty pageant days.

I liked it, but I wouldn’t do it again. It was very stressful, and there was a lot of criticism the whole time over things that I cannot change. Getting fourth place was good, and honestly, I’m glad I didn’t win first place. But I am glad I did it and I am lucky to get a lot of opportunities from it. It really was a launching pad, and I am happy doing what I am doing now.

What are the key lessons that you picked up from your experiences?

It is important to stay grounded, especially when you are young and getting into the industry. A lot of people tend to lose track of where they are going. Know your values, and never sell yourself short.

When you are young, you want to try everything to get yourself out there but it is not all that simple. You have to be careful in this industry. If you know you have what it takes then you shouldn’t stop trying.

Lastly, care to share your ultimate dream?

I plan to make it huge in Hollywood; to be the next Priyanka Chopra. I want to act and sing. I just need to make the right decisions and take the right steps to get there. Hopefully, I can do it with a little polishing.

It is my dream to be an accomplished actress. Believe it or not, I have not tried acting, but I want to be an actress ever since I can remember. I like to throw myself into my art and acting is perfect as you get to be different persons.


Meaning of Swarna: Gold in Sanskrit.

Hobby: Kick-boxing.

Favourite make-up products: Laura Mercier’s Translucent Loose Setting Powder and Kat Von D’s Tattoo Liner.

Favourite phrase: Tat Tvam Asi (Sanskrit) meaning thou art that or you are that.

Published in Biographies
Friday, 11 November 2016 00:00

Olivia Shyan


Protagonist of her own story

Article from the Sun daily by Denissa Goh (posted on 10 November 2016)

RIGHT after completing high school, Olivia Tan May Shyan– or fondly known as Olivia Shyan in the entertainment industry – was persuaded by her parents to get a job before enrolling into college.

Although timid by nature, Tan knew she was born to stand out and her itch to defy mediocrity led to her first exposure in the entertainment industry: as an extra in a Johnnie Walker commercial.

Despite the minor role, the young lady of Chinese, American, Spanish and Thai descent believes in doing her best in every endeavour, big or small. Her professionalism snagged her a role in the second season of Bola Cinta, a Malay television series that gained local and international recognition.

That gig boosted her confidence and subsequently landed her more roles in local dramas, and then to the international entertainment scene with Netflix's Marco Polo in 2014.

Today, the passion for showbiz remains embedded within the 24 year-old. Apart from her involvement in Astro First's upcoming drama Gantung, Tan also hosts events and stars in television commercials.

Can you recall the moment you got the role with Netflix?

At first I thought it seemed dodgy because I was approached via Facebook Messenger to audition for the role. I ignored the message, but the person was very persistent and asked if he could call me. So I thought, what do I have to lose? After talking to him over the phone, I went for the audition still thinking it was a hoax until I saw the guy who answered the door – it was Dan Minahan, the director of Game of Thrones. Then I knew it was real.

How did you juggle between Marco Polo and studying for your Bachelor of Arts?

I was flying back and forth to Johor – where they shot it – for a month in between my studies. So I would be filming during the weekends and coming back to study on weekdays. It involved a lot of organising and time management – I'd whip out my laptop and do my assignments in between takes!

Being in the entertainment industry is not all that glamorous, they say. What would be its least glamorous part for you?

Working with people who are unprofessional and sleazy in any way.But I think there is an unglamorous part in every industry; you just have to be thick-skinned and get over it.

What keeps you going then?

Passion, perseverance and knowing exactly what you want and where you are heading.

What are the important qualities do you think an actor needs to have in order to survive the industry?

Strong personality, perseverance and determination because you need to decide if you want to stay in the industry or not. And if you do, you need to plan what you want to do and achieve; be realistic.

How about the most important lesson you've learnt so far being in this industry?

It's clichéd but I think the most important thing is to just be yourself. The moment you try to be someone else, you become a discounted version of that person you were trying to emulate. It's okay to look up to someone but trying to be someone else is such a waste because there's no one else like you. Always aim to be the best version of yourself, not a cheap version of someone else.

Published in Biographies
Tuesday, 16 February 2016 00:00

Chai Xinle


A simple girl

Article from the Sun daily by Yeo Chia Hui (posted on 4 June 2015)

DESPITE having just finished an outdoor photoshoot for this interview, Chai Xinle was able to cheerfully answer all the questions posed to her as if she hasn’t just spent the last 30 minutes or so under the scorching sunlight. This model, host, and actress’ genial disposition continued throughout the interview and her jovial mood was infectious to those around.

Better known as Xinle, she first came into the public’s attention when she won the iFeel Girl Search 2011. Her beautiful features, optimistic nature and willing to learn attitude have gone a long way in making her who she is today – a beauty who can professionally pose for a picture, entertain a huge crowd, and can act convincingly in front of a camera.

A Jane of all trades, she disclosed that Japanese model, Lena Fujii, was the one who inspired her to make a bold move by joining the modelling industry. “She’s one of the top models for ViVi magazine and it was because of her that I always bought the magazine. I like her so much because she’s so photogenic,” Xinle gushed about her idol before admitting that her parents weren’t so fond of her decision at first.

“In the beginning they were strongly against my decision as I come from a small town and my family is very conservative. But I was very persistent in my decision and I showed them some magazines to let them see what modelling is about and slowly they came around.”

Between modelling, acting, and hosting, which one would you say is the most difficult?

It has to be hosting. To be honest, I’ve never thought that I’d ever venture into hosting. I was a volunteer in a charity group back in my hometown and during one of the events, my uncle asked me to be the host at the last minute. Without preparation and any script, I was forced to entertain the VVIPs and the crowd, and I told this to my manager who then persuaded me to try hosting. Why hosting is challenging is because it forces you think on your feet. Everything is happening so fast, therefore, you too have to go with the flow. At least in acting, you have the script and time to prepare but you’ve just got to be ready when it comes to hosting.

Do you think women who have long hair are more feminine compared to those with short hair?

Last time I was really against having short hair because I thought I was more feminine with long hair. I used to let my manager know about this dislike so I won’t have to have my hair cut short, but after I’ve gotten my current haircut I actually like it and I find myself more confident. Or maybe I’m just someone who can easily adapt to a new environment or change, but either way I like my current short hairstyle.

You said that you used to dislike short hair, so what made you change your mind and had it cut short in the first place?

I think that life is just too short and I don’t want to have any regrets, so I want to try and explore as many things as I can. To me, I also find this career very risky as you may not know what tomorrow will bring, hence, I want to discover new things as long as I’m still alive.

If you can be anyone in this world, who would you want to be?

This question is quite difficult for me to answer because I can’t think of anyone else that I would really want to be.

But if you’re given the chance, wouldn’t you want to be Lena Fujii?

I’ve always believed that everyone has their own destiny and their own goals in life. Do I want to be Lena Fujii? Even if I choose to be her, I believe I would still have to face the same challenges in life. If that’s the case why don’t I just be comfortable with myself?


Published in Biographies
Monday, 11 January 2016 00:00

Aaron Chan How Hee


More than a race

Article from the Sun daily (posted on 25 June 2015)

I REMEMBER fondly of the time when I enjoyed cycling. But as school got in the way, the cycling hobby found a place with Aaron Chan How Hee.

He was in his early teens when his uncle took him on early morning bicycle rides. Sometimes they were cross country cycling and sometimes they were just around the neighbourhood, setting off a new kind of passion in Chan.

Then at 17, Chan participated in his first ever downhill race and ended up with the third fastest time. A cycling coach and veteran, now his current team manager, saw the potential in Chan and took him under his wings. After just a month of training, he was already doing better than his coach. It was also at 17 that Chan got his first sponsor to go professional.

Now at 24, Chan, who is also a part time model and a regular face at The Grumpy Cyclist cafe, has five years of professional downhill mountain bike racing experience in his portfolio. For him, biking is the closest thing to flying.

How easy is it?

To anybody, downhill mountain biking may sound easy but throw in 20-foot jumps, rocks, routes, trees… and you're coming down about 10km/h and you have to think about where you need to pedal, where you need to brake, what suspension setups and tyres to use… There are a lot of things to think about, a lot of preparation, and practice that go into a win.

Tell us about a memorable race.

My first ever international race in Indonesia. It was an eye-opener to see how riding is in a different country. That was also when I broke my wrist. I was tired in my last run and I came into one of the corners and I just washed out. My bike slid and I went straight into a tree. I dislocated my knuckle and had a compression fracture on my wrist so I couldn't finish that race.

How do you prepare?

I try and spend at least three days a week on the bicycle. If I can't, I'll gym. Fitness-wise, a lot of people think that cycling just needs leg muscles but you need your whole posterior chain like your lower back all the way to your knees because that is how you maintain balance. With mountain biking, it's a lot about upper body as well because you need to manoeuvre the bike.

How do you choose the right bicycle?

As a professional, you would already have sponsors like how I am sponsored by Fakawi Bikes. But as a normal rider, you need to think about what kind of cycling you want to do first, then the bike as every one has different characteristics. For example, my bike got a longer wheelbase and lower centre of gravity so it's more stable on the corners. Frame-wise, my bike is a production model but I tuned up the suspension differently and it isn't just about how hard or soft; it's about how fast the rebound is and how much impact it absorbs. Mine is set up to absorb up to eight inches of shock.

What's the best thing about cycling?

The cycling part is fun but what got me into it is what goes on outside of cycling. You get to travel to all these places to ride and meet people who share the same passion. Racing overseas really taught me a lot about life.

Where do you see yourself in five years?

I'm actually building my portfolio as a director doing some freelance videography when I have time. Hopefully, by then, I'd be working consistently as a director furthering my experiment with fashion film. In terms of cycling, the plan is to try to race in the world championships before I turn 28.

Published in Biographies
Monday, 11 January 2016 00:00

Shir Chong


Raring to go

Article from the Sun daily (posted on 30 April 2015)

IT is her curiosity and dare-to-try spirit that landed Shir Chong where she is today. One can argue by saying that being the champion of a reality TV modelling competition launched her career, but if it wasn't for those aforementioned traits she wouldn't have been on the show to begin with.

When asked about how she ventured into modelling, this 1.73m beauty said that she has always been interested in the industry and when by chance she saw top model Tengku Azura doing a catwalk, Chong became interested.

Eventually she met one of her mentors who taught her some catwalk basics before she took modelling classes.

"I saw the reality show on 8TV and I thought it was a great platform for me to explore if I'm right for this field. I also told myself that if I'm not suitable then I don't want to blindly pursue it so I took part in the first season but maybe because I wasn't ready then, I got rejected during the audition.

"After my brother encouraged me to try again, I joined season three and surprisingly I won," said the winner of I Wanna Be A Model.

After having made some notable waves in the fashion industry, she again decided to challenge herself by trying her hand at acting. So far, this 27 year-old budding actress has worked with Leon Lai in his directorial debut Wine War, acted in award-winning French director Fabien Duflis' short film, and was the actress in a local short film by well known director James Lee.

Do you get to keep the clothes that you model for?

To be honest, not all the time. There are instances where clients would be more than happy to let you keep the clothes, but we mostly shoot with sample pieces that are flown all over the world for advertising and promotion usage.

In Malaysia, would you say that the fashion industry is tougher on female models or male models?

Not just in Malaysia but in general female models do have more work than their male colleagues because there is a bigger market for women in terms of beauty products, hair products, nail products, clothes and more.

Although we are more in demand, male models have a longer lifespan. It's easy to see mature male models in advertisements but not female ones unless you're so famous that clients want you to be their ambassador.

As an actress, you've worked with Leon Lai, Fabien Duflis, and James Lee. What is one thing that you have learned from these directors?

I find that they're all very observant, driven and passionate about what they're doing. All three of them are also very patient and they're so willing to guide you. While filming for James Lee, he amazed me because on top of directing he was also acting in the film.

He proved that he's not just a director who only knows how to direct but he can also act.

If you're not a model or an actress, what other profession do you see yourself doing?

Maybe a musician or a teacher, I play piano and I really love music and singing too. And seeing how I do enjoy street performances by musicians, so I guess maybe a musician.

What are your upcoming plans?

Definitely more acting I'd say. I also hope to be able to explore more things in order to find out how versatile I can be and just develop myself better.

Where do you see yourself in five years?

I think I'd be running a small scale business, and maybe I'll also be an activist. Hopefully, I'll be starting a family as well.


Best feature: Eyes
Beauty advice: You are what you eat
Cannot stand: Carrot
Five most important things: Music, food, handphone, love, and bolster
Her go-to therapy: Cooking


Published in Biographies
Page 1 of 2
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