AN INSPIRATION FOR MANY TO ASPIRE, AMBER CHIA SHARES WITH US HER STORY, SUCCESSES, FAILURES, ADVISES AND MORE!
In this Month of The Coverage’s March Pick, we go back to the early 2000’s to revisit how it all first started for a woman who aspired and now is an inspiration to many young women out there and also an icon towards those in the modelling industry.
Though she may appear sweet and subtle on the outside, she definitely has a fiery flame of passion for the past 18 years in what she does. We present to you the legendary staple to the modelling industry in Malaysia, Amber Chia.
We The Coverage Bureau were fortunate enough to have recently landed an interview with the consistently busy Amber Chia. In our interview, she shares with us her stories filled with successes and failures, advises to young and aspiring models, her contribution towards the industry and so much more that has yet to be unfolded from her.
The local modelling scene back in the late 1990’s and early 2000’s was an extremely difficult industry to get into and moreover, stay successful in. However, Amber Chia’s passion and persistence didn’t stop her from reaching towards her dreams back then. Since then, she has proven herself to be a dreamer, fighter and achiever.
Born on the 14th of December in 1981 in the small town of Teluk Intan, she moved back to Tawau, Sabah only at the age of 12. However, because of her family’s financial struggles, she had to stop her studies when she was just 15 years of age to work three multiple jobs in order to help her parents sustain the family.
When asked about her childhood, she shared with us, “Hmm, my childhood and background was pretty complicated. I was born in Teluk Anson near Ipoh but I grew up in Sekinjang until when I was 7 years of age. Then I moved to Tawau, Sabah at 8 years of age. I came from a really big family”, she giggles a little, ‘My mother had the 6 of us while I was the third child of the family. My family was quite poor to a point where I was given away to my foster parents at 8, until I was 12 moving back to my parent’s place.”
“I started to work ever since I was 12, however I stopped studying when I was form 3. I had to in order to help take care of my family, it wasn’t a choice, more like an obligation to help my family. When I was 17, I had enough savings to move to KL. Well, basically it’s a long and complicated story from then on. Though I may have stopped studying when I was form 3, I do continue to learn as I am of this age now, there are always new things to learn.” mentioned Amber Chia as she giggles cheerfully again at the end.
Moving to the bustling city of Kuala Lumpur at the age of only 17 years old to achieve what she had already dreamt for so long. Though success didn’t come overnight, she had to face so many challenges along the way.
When asked about how she was able to survive when she first move to Kuala Lumpur, she shared, “It was really difficult initially because I started off with only RM300 after buying my flight tickets. I survived with what I had, however it was tough because I had to buy so many items such as shoes. I didn’t have a choice then, I had to have other jobs such as a promoter and usher in order to make the money that I needed. It was tough because it wasn’t what I wanted to do when I first came to KL, but that’s life and sometimes life doesn’t come easy.”
She later threw in a hard punch about reality saying, “It’s not as if that you start your modelling career today, tomorrow you become a supermodel. It took me 17 to 18 years to get to where I am now today. It wasn’t a night’s worth of work nor a day but it required an immense amount of hard work and I mean a LOT of hard work.”
Her big break came when she had successfully won the 2004 Guess Watches Timeless Beauty Contest making her the first Asian model to walk on such a global scale and even better her appearance made her the first Asian model to campaign for Guess Watches Globally. Soon to come after her success, she had scored countless of opportunities all around the world, too many to even name.
Knowing that beauty is only a temporary matter, her entrepreneur side kicked in as she decided to establish the Amber Chia Academy for young and aspiring models to join in and learn the ins and outs of the modelling industry.
We asked her, what were the future plans for the academy and she stated, “It’s been about 6 years since I started the academy and the one goal I have for the academy is that it becomes a beauty and fashion college one day, that’s my dream. I don’t know how long more will I have to do this but hopefully it’ll all be okay. As long as I have something to achieve, just give me the time and I will achieve it.”
“Even if I have to wait for another 10 years before it happens, it doesn’t matter to me because it took 17 years to get to where I am today”
She continues to add that she hopes one day the next successful supermodel would be from the Amber Chia Academy too. Not just on the local scene but on the international stages as well.
The Amber Chia Academy was founded by Amber Chia and Benjamin Toong on the August of 2010. As described is was “established to produce an outstanding next generation of fashion icons and beauty creators, Amber Chia Academy is designed to share a wealth of experience and knowledge in an upbeat and creative style”. There are many short courses for aspiring models who would like to learn more about the ins and outs of modelling, fashion, make-up, hair styling and most importantly, how to stand out in the industry. You can enquire more in the link here.
After she told us her story, we asked her what was her most embarrassing and worst experience during her modelling career. She didn’t shy away from the question but rather she laughed back at the times when she remembered those days.
” I remembered when I had first moved to KL, I told my parents about my ambition to become a model. In an instance, I didn’t get any support from them, I was to be alone with no support 17 years ago at such a young age. They had thought that modelling was about the night life, drugs and becoming the second wife of someone else… basically anything that was negative.”
“It wasn’t a proper job in their eyes, they said if I wanted a proper job, it should’ve been either an accountant, teacher, lawyer or nurse. A “proper” job. Therefore, I struggled a lot without the support.”
With the struggles that came, she shed some light unto the matter.
“It took me about 2 years to make my dad proud and about a year for my mum to forgive me. However, it took 5 years to make my dad my biggest supporter. I will never forget the day when he first came to KL to visit me. It was when I had just won the Guess Timeless Beauty title and he was with me at that time. Suddenly everyone crowded around me for a photo and my signature, he was baffled initially because he couldn’t understand what was happening, he was only a fisherman and a fishmonger. He asked what was happening and I said that they liked and support me.”
“The next thing I knew was my mum called me to tell me that my dad was crazy! Apparently, he took my magazine and hung it on the walls of the house in Tawau. When I heard that, it touched my heart. I started to tear up because even though he didn’t really show any signs of appreciation, he had always supported me and was proud of my achievements. I was really glad that it took 5 years for him to finally be my biggest supporter. It honestly made me want to work harer, like a motivation.”
Our final question of the interview was to ask her on what sort of advice would she give to any teenagers if approached by one. Her advice should be solid considering the amount of experience she has on the back of her hands.
Without the need to think, she jumps in to answer. She shared, “If you have anything at all that you wish to achieve, especially in the entertainment or modelling industry, I would suggest that the younger you are, the better. Don’t wait because waiting it out will never happen. Just go, do it and try. Even if you succeed or fail, at least you will have an answer for yourself.”
“Life is all about learning, it’s about the experiences you gain to make yourself stronger. Even for me, I didn’t gain a quality education because of my family’s struggles but because of those struggles, it has made me into the person I am today. All because of the experiences I gain, even the struggles are experiences. Life is about learning, you can’t be afraid of failing because you’re still young and you still have the energy it takes to fight back. So use those experience to improve yourself.”
To end it off, she mentions, “I’ve never regretted my decisions even though it may have been difficult, suffering and full of struggles, even though there were many failures, I never did regret once. Today, I think back to all of this and it was a great experience, full of great memories. I’m glad that I’ve gone through all of that struggle to be the person I am today. It was all worth it, so tell yourself as well that it was all worth the try.”
As the interview ends, we shake hands with wishes to one another and we part our separate ways. I think to myself on the answers she has given us today, it was full of content, experiences and persona. She knew how to answer each and every question without a struggle and the only reason she was able to do so was because of the immense amount of experience she has already carried along in her lifetime.
This is why she’s The Coverage’s March pick, she’s an independent woman who has proven that she has what it take and still has more. Continuing to inspire those out there who aspires.
Amber Chia’s Facebook: Amber Chia
Amber Chia’s Twitter: @Amberchia
Amber Chia’s Instagram: @Amberchia
Amber Chia’s Website: Amber Chia
Amber Chia Academy Website: Amber Chia Academy