We really like promoting competitions which highlight and expose the beauty of Asian models. Although the fashion industry is increasingly hiring more and more Asian models and each season we see more on the runways, we want to expose as many beauties as we can.
This year we partnered with the Viet Model Project, a contest for Asian models of Vietnamese descent. If you thought Asian models were hard to find, Vietnamese American models are even harder.
We interviewed the winner of the competition Thao (Sophi) Nguyen the day after she won. She is from Mississippi and was stuck in Los Angeles due to flight cancellations from Hurricane Gustav. Sophi is proud of her Vietnamese heritage and enjoys reading Asian American magazines in her spare time. Get to know a little bit more about Sophi below.
ASIANCE: Can you give us a little bit about your background?
Sophi: I was born in Vietnam and came to the United States. When I first came here, I stayed in Worchester, Massachusetts. Then I moved to Mississippi.
ASIANCE: What made you join the Viet Model Project?
Sophi: I love modeling. It’s an interest that I feel I can do well. You put more effort into something that you like doing and I like taking pictures, being made up and being creative. I’m passionate. I did it when I was younger but I followed my mom to Vietnam. When I came back, I went to agencies even though I was working and going to school as well. I can still take time off and pursue it if I want to be featured somewhere. I wasn’t concerned with the $$ I just wanted to do it.
ASIANCE: What do you do when you are not modeling?
Sophi: I work as a cocktail waitress at Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Mississippi.
ASIANCE: Now that you won, what do you do next?
Sophi: We are just going to start off for a few cover shots for some magazines and a few appearances. Then we play it by ear.
ASIANCE: Did you make friends with any particular girls from the competition?
Sophi: I bonded with my roommates. We didn’t know each other. Near the end we started bonding. The past couple days we were bonding. We even were talking to the point where we spent 3 hours talking to each other.
ASIANCE: What do you love about your Vietnamese culture?
Sophi: I love that I know I am Vietnamese. Many times people think I’m Chinese. When I work in the casino Vietnamese people guess everything but Vietnamese. The way that I am, I am the typical Vietnamese that is down South (MS) and when I’m up North, people think I’m Vietnamese. When I move down South, they think I’m Vietnamese.
ASIANCE: What else do you do besides modeling?
Sophi: I really like anything to do with entertainment; acting, modeling, anything to do with entertaining. I like it all but I love taking pictures. I don’t hire a professional. I am a tomboy. I just have images of photos I want or at least close to it. I take photos myself. I know what I want when I’m behind the right camera..
ASIANCE: Do you have any makeup advice for Asian girls?
Sophi: The only thing I would say is try to be as natural as possible. A layer of cream for the whole day that sinks into your skin. The only thing I use is concealer. I don’t use foundation. The cream is good enough and that will blend into my skin. I wear lipgloss all the time. I little bit of blush and some mascara. I don’t wear powder and foundation.
ASIANCE: Do you visit Vietnam often?
Sophi: Very much. I went back when I was 14, in like “97 or “98. I love Vietnam. I can communicate a little. I don’t speak Vietnamese. We do talk. I can’t communicate with my cousins too well. The next time I went was in “03 for 2 months. In 2005, I went for a month. Then I went October through December and July through August in 2006.
ASIANCE: You stay with your family while there?
Sophi: Yes. I have a moped and my own computer there. I don’t need to go to the internet cafes. I have an international license. So if get pulled over, I’m not going to have a problem. You work really hard over here in the United States. My savings are for traveling. I do go to a lot of places.
ASIANCE: What Vietnamese designers do you like?
Sophi: I like Cory Couture. He makes evening gowns and traditional Vietnamese dresses. We go to church and temple because they are right next to each other. I was born a Buddhist but my grandmother converted me to Catholic. We have the Blue Moon Festival in Mississippi at the temple. It’s a Vietnamese tradition. They will be having a contest at the end of this month.
ASIANCE: Have you been following what is going on with the new Republican Vice Presidential pick and that her 17 year old daughter is pregnant?
Sophi: I don’t follow it that much. I have a relevant idea what’s going on. I’ve been out of the loop for the past few days due to the contest. If you are registered to vote, even though it’s only one vote, you have to really look into your candidate and participate on their behalf. It really makes a difference.
When you are a candidate they will pull all dirty things about you to pull you down. It’s really important for a parent to look after their child. Every kid goes through a teenage life and that is where is the drama begins. The only thing you can do is not use force and guide them as easily as possible. I think we all have conflict. Accidents do happen. She’s probably spending too much time on her career. Maybe there is a lack of love in her family. I don’t think it will affect her job as Vice President. Teenage pregnancy is so high.
ASIANCE: Were you affected at all by Hurricane Gustav?
Sophi: I was supposed to be home and my flight got canceled twice. I have no access to the world at all. My mom called me during this week telling me the hurricane was coming through and asked me what I wanted them to bring.
ASIANCE: Well what did you say?
Sophi: My jeans, my motherboard, leave my screen… and all the papers in my shoebox which contain my citizenship, work I’ve saved and the good grades I received and my immunizations. When the hurricane comes, it washes away everything. You lose everything. Oh and I told her to make sure she brings all the pictures.
ASIANCE: Did they leave?
Sophi: They were driving to my uncle who lives in Florida. This morning when I woke up, I found out that my flight was cancelled. So I’m here speaking with you!
View Sophi’s complete modeling portfolio here:
For more on the Viet Model Project visit www.vietmodelproject.com