Thursday, September 16, 2010

Featured: Amber Chia

More than just a pretty face

Often people would regard modelling as the easiest job and a fairy tale concept. I mean, all you have to do is look pretty and take a picture, no biggie right? If you are born with perfect features, good height and are slim enough, take the easy way out –model. Well, I guess that was pretty much the borderline difference that separates the normal models with the supermodels.

Supermodels like Tyra Banks and Heidi Klum are the new starlets and are now household names, wielding such wow power and became amongst the most bankable young ladies in the world. Rarely do you get an Asian to be in the same ranks as the Americans, but Amber Chia is definitely ready to defy the odds. And guess what? She is Malaysian too!

Her turning point was when she was crowned the winner of the internationally acclaimed brand –Guess. In 2005, she was deemed as the second sexiest next to Angelina Jolie in FHM’s Magazine’s 100 Sexiest Women. Often regarded by the Malaysians fondly as the Malaysian version of Tyra Banks, Ms Chia has also hosted model searches across the nation and has continuously encouraged and helps to promote the modelling industry in the conservative Malaysia. Amber is also the face of L’Oreal Paris Hair Makeup, Stila Makeup and of course, Guess.

Lately Amber has taken one step further and started a modelling academy in Jaya One. Classes started early this month, 1st of September and have already taken in about 300 students. Nestled within the green and homey domain of Jaya One, the academy exudes the very essence of chic and stylish. It is believable that international models will graduate from this impressive academy.

With such acclaimed accomplishments, I would say I was surprised at how humble and down-to-earth Amber was when she greeted us for the interview. Although heavily pregnant, she was kind enough to make time to make it for our interview.

Ms Chia revealed that the main aim of the academy was to promote and cultivate the modelling career as an actual professional job. She mentioned that during one of her modelling jobs at the fashion shows done by Victoria Beckham in New York Fashion Week, many thought she had a very unique look –that being people thought she was Thai, Chinese and etc. She said that due to our racial harmony in Malaysia, our look has more or less evolved along with it and have mixed racial features. 

She thinks that as Malaysian, we can use this to our advantage. She believes that Malaysians can be very good models and she wants to help motivate and cultivate young talents. 

Amber Chia at the opening of her Academy

When she first started off at a young age of 17, she had no direction, she had no idea what she could do, what she shouldn’t do. Admittedly, she said it was rough. So she had hoped that this academy would save young models time, and pursue the right path.

Waiting room of the chic and modern looking academy.

Amber then proceeds to explain the courses offered in the academy. Courses such as Modelling Image is essentially a grooming and deportment course with an edge to enhance the way you look, walk, and dress to discover your inner beauty and transform your outlook. (Extract from the pamphlet) Modelling Image is perfect for those working women seeking for a cleaner cut and polish look when presenting oneself to the world. 

Modelling Extreme is the course for those seeking to be the quintessential model, of which they will offer classes in picture taking, runway classes and all the other things needed to know to be a model and survive in the industry. A pair of 5inch heels will be included in the package upon registration, as it is hard to find 5inch heels in the market. 
Where the Catwalk magic happens. 

There are also Makeup courses (Makeup basic, Makeup Master and Makeup Revolution) which of course –sorry to point out the obvious- teaching makeup.

Makeup Station packed with state of the art equipments from Philip.

Makeup Station
Coaches or as they call it, Guru’s will be hand-in-hand with Amber herself to coach and educate young talents. Best known as the ‘CatWalk Guru’, Benjamin Toong will also be there to teach the students how to strut their stuff. ‘He thought me everything I know, he is like a Malaysian Miss Jay.’ She added fondly when Benjamin came into the topic. 

Catwalk Guru, Benjamin Toong
As for the makeup, nothing less than the best –Desmond Yoi, will also be a part of the dynamic team. 

Makeup Guru, Desmond Yoi
The academy is equipped and sponsored by Philip, Canon and FIX interiors. 

Changing the topic from the academy, we then catch up with Amber on her personal life, her views on fashion and how she started off. When she first started off as a girl from Tawau, Sabah, she knew she wanted to be a model. 

As typical Malaysian parents are, her parents were concerned and protested against her will. Despite protests and disapproval, she went ahead. And now, her parents saw that she really was into this modelling thing, and provided her the love and support she needed. ‘My mom would keep every copy of magazines and newspapers I’m in,’ she laughs. Wow, that must be a lot of magazines and newspapers.  

Her fashion tip would be, ‘Wear the outfit, and don’t let the outfit wear you.’ She feels that you have to have the confidence to work an outfit, regardless the brand or the price. 

A confident girl would be able to pull off a potato sack –or so to speak, those American Next Top Model fans would know this well- and still look good. Amber also quoted the Chinese saying, ‘There is no ugly woman, only lazy ones’ She feels that if one can take the initiative to take care of themselves well, they will sure to shine. Take notes girls; this is coming from the Supermodel after all. :]

When talking about her love life, she is content and happy with her husband and is practically beaming when her pregnancy is mentioned. She said that she had to slow down in terms of work as the pregnancy rolls in. But it has opened her to new horizons, ‘I got to be in maternity related stuff, which is different as I normally get high fashion bookings.’ She added with a smile. Though she misses her ‘old figure’, she would jokingly bring up. But hey, I would say she still looks hot for someone pregnant. But the workaholic in her would always nudge her to work and work and work.

When the topic of her marriage with hubby Adrian Wong came about, she jokingly said that she wasn’t as young as she used to be, and the moment he popped up the question, she couldn’t have said ‘Yes’ quick enough. She didn’t want to be one of those although successful, but still single and unmarried. 

She imagined a life with a family after her carrier. ‘He is a private person’ she adds with a laugh, but when you marry a supermodel, privacy kind of goes out the window and now he is a public figure.

Her future ventures include a Model Search for Canon later in the year and working on her academy, of which she hopes to have franchises across the nation in the future. She adds on a last note, that girls or guys who have dreams of becoming a model should be brave and come forward –because the industry is more favourable to younger models. 

She recalls when she hosted the Ford Model search that two women of around the age of 36 and 37 came up to her and asked if they could participate, but their age was beyond limit. She feels that it was sad, because it was evident that they really wanted it badly, but alas it was out of her hands. So she advises everyone, given the passion –just go for it. Best opportunities come in the guises of competitions –after all, that was how a sweet, humble and down to earth girl like Xie Li Ping, became the internationally acclaimed Supermodel, Amber Chia. The exemplary icon that never forgot her roots. 

Official Website:
Academy Website:

You can visit the official Amber Chia website if you are interested to know more about the modelling academy. Prices range from RM699 to RM 6, 688 and takes from two months to five months. 


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