Top 5 Reasons We Love Variety’s 2014 Breakthrough Actress OLIVIA MUNN

Variety‘s Breakthrough of the Year Awards celebrates and recognizes rising stars in entertainment and technology. This year, the awards ceremony took place at the Consumer Electronics Show in Vegas.

Much of our attention was focused on Variety’s 2014 Breakthrough Actress Winner, Olivia Munn. The 33-year-old half-Chinese actress has been on our radar for quite some time. Thankfully, the world is taking notice.

Munn is most known for her roles in films such as Iron Man 2 and Magic Mike as well as her roles on television shows such as The Daily Show and New Girl.

Although she is considered a “rising star,” she has captivated the hearts of her fans for years. Don’t know her yet? Now’s the time. Here are our Top 5 Reasons We Love Olivia Munn.

 


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1. She never gave up on her dreams.
In a 2011 interview with Audrey Magazine, Munn admits that when she first told her mother she wanted to be an actress, her mother adamantly disagreed and insisted that she become a lawyer.

In fact, her mother wasn’t the only one who doubted Munn’s choice of acting. Initially, Munn found her dreams difficult to follow. Her unique look and Asian eyes originally caused her to feel doubtful.

But Munn didn’t give up on her dreams. In fact, it all made her work harder to prove to everyone (including herself) that she was capable. “I told myself, my bar will always be higher than what I was doing at the time. Then if I reached that one, I would make another higher one, and another one,” she says. “I’ve worked hard for a long time [so I could] tell myself, I’ll never be the reason I hear no.”


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2. She overcame social pressures.
Munn spent much of her childhood moving around. She was born in Oklahoma, but spent a large portion of her childhood in Tokyo, Japan. Needless to say, she found it difficult to fit in.

According to Refinery29, Munn tried to change her appearance to be accepted by her peers. “I wore men’s clothing a lot in high school because I wanted to hide behind baggy pants and T-shirts. When I moved from Japan to Oklahoma at 16 I tried to go more preppy to fit in. I ditched my skater clothes but I just ended up looking like some weird girl desperately trying to fit in. The kids in school would be wearing sweater vests from Gap, but we couldn’t afford brand new clothes so I would borrow my grandmother’s linty, moth-eaten sweater vests and not realise how much of a sore thumb I looked like.”

But as expected, she overcame this need to fit in. “When you’re always the new girl, it forces you to come up with new ways to make friends,” Munn tells Audrey Magazine, “because every time you go somewhere, it’s literally the same battle. Eventually with me, once I built up so much scar tissue, I didn’t have to worry so much about becoming popular or being welcomed or being accepted.”


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3. Her strong relationship with her fans.
Over the years, Munn has gathered quite a handful of loyal fans and has proven that she doesn’t allow fame to get to her head. Her fan club is called OMFGs (Olivia Munn Fan Group) and Munn has been known to be extremely generous and kind to her dedicated fans.  In an interview with US Magazine, Munn has stated that she owes everything she has to her loyal fan group, OMFG.

“They’re amazing. I’m very lucky. It’s a really good feeling to know they have my back,” says Munn. ““They put me on this ride. They’re coming along for the ride.”

 


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4. She’s a published author.
Although Munn pursued her dream of becoming an actress despite her mother’s initial sentiments about the career, the last thing Munn wanted to do was go against her mother’s will. Munn admits that no matter what, she needed her mother’s approval before making big decisions like moving to Hollywood.

To satisfy her mother, she graduated from the University of Oklahoma with a journalism degree and work for a year at a local television station before moving west.

Although Munn is now a successful actress, she still put her degree to good use and became a published author. Suck It, Wonder Woman: The Misadventures of a Hollywood Geek, was released on July 6, 2010.

 


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5. She’s an Audrey Magazine covergirl.
The beautiful Olivia Munn graced our Spring 2011 cover. Check out the must-read cover story here.

 

Top Five Reasons We Love The Bride-To-Be JAMIE CHUNG

 

We’ve all been buzzing with excitement over the news of Jamie Chung’s engagement to long-time boyfriend Bryan Greenberg. Well, most of us have been excited. We’ve come across some fans who are broken-hearted that their “future wife” will now remain a daydream.

Of course, we don’t blame them! There are plenty of reasons to love the 30-year-old Korean American actress. Below are our Top Five Reasons We Love The Bride-To-Be JAMIE CHUNG. 


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1. Brains & Beauty
It goes without saying that Jamie Chung is gorgeous. All we have to do is show you some photoshoots of this 30-year-old actress and you will surely agree with us (and join us in wondering how this girl keeps so fit).

In addition to her looks, Chung understands the importance of an education. After graduating from Lowell High School in 2001, Chung went on to receive her BA in Communications from the University of California, Riverside in 2005. Her education was so important to her that she worked two jobs while in school to pay her bills.

Even after her stint on MTV’s The Real World: San Diego, Chung went right back to finish school. Jamie tells Audrey Magazine, “It was never a goal to do a reality show, nor did I think it would help me get into movies. At the time, I just thought of it as a cool vacation that helped pay for my student loans.”

 



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2. She Made Our Disney Princess Dreams Come True

Jamie Chung has graced television screens since 2004, but it is her most recent role which caught the attention of many.

Who can forget when Disney released Mulan in 1998? We definitely couldn’t. For some of us, this was finally a Disney Princess who actually looked like us. That’s huge. So when the ABC drama series Once Upon A Time started bringing fairytales to life, we were more than excited to see if they would include Mulan. But was there anyone who could properly play one of our most favorite Disney princesses?

Luckily for us, Jamie Chung does not disappoint. Her portrayal of Mulan is just as tough and inspiring as ever. When it was revealed that the Once Upon A Time character is bisexual, Chung’s character began making television history.

 


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3. Her Bold & Daring Personality 

Chung decided to become an actress despite her “traditional” Korean parents. Bold? Yup. Chung’s character Mulan in Once Upon A Time portrays the popular Disney Princess as bisexual, a move which gained a handful of both praise and criticism. Daring? You bet.

Time and time again, Chung has shown a brave heart. ““[Acting] has always been a secret desire of mine. When I first started, I was so afraid of failure that I didn’t tell anyone what I was doing. But, once I decided, I dove right in,” Jamie tells Audrey Magazine.

But even after jumping into acting, Chung had to show a strong heart. This is especially true when she played the lead in the indie film, Eden, based on the true story of Chong Kim and her personal struggles against human sex trafficking.

“It’s a story that has to be shared,” she says. “We’d ride around in this ghetto-ass van during the kidnapper scenes or use handheld cameras while locked in a car trunk. Whatever it took. I pushed myself and stripped myself of everything I was comfortable with.”


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4. She’s A Hard-Worker
Looking at all the work that Chung has done in the past few years alone is enough to stress anyone. She has packed her resume will roles on a number of television shows and movies including Grey’s Anatomy, Sucker Punch, The Hangover II & III, Premium Rush, The Man With The Iron Fists, 7500, and a handful of upcoming films. Quite frankly, we’re not sure how she manages to do it all.

But Chung simply views all this as experience which helps her grow. “Acting is like a rubber band ball,” she says. “After each job, you walk away with something and add another rubber band to that ball. And the bigger the ball, the more people and experiences add to your art. Acting is great in that you can only get better with age.”


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5. She’s An AUDREY MAGAZINE Cover Girl
The beautiful Korean American actress graced the cover of our magazine in Fall 2012. Additionally, she gave us an amazing cover story. Read it here.

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BONUS: Her Fashion Sense
In addition to all of Jamie Chung’s talents, she is also a fashion blogger. Check out some of our her looks on her official blog.

 

 

Tao Okamoto’s Hollywood Debut in “The Wolverine”

Story by Taylor Weik.

She’s walked on more runways than she can count, has had an issue of Japanese Vogue dedicated to her and her bowl haircut inspired fashion designer Phillip Lim to imitate the style on the whole cast of his fall/winter 2009 show. To say that Tao Okamoto has made achievements in the fashion world is an understatement. Now, the Japanese supermodel, who has won honors such as “Model of the Year” from the Japan Fashion Editor’s Club and one of Japanese Vogue’s “Women of the Year,” has moved on to the entertainment industry to tackle another profession: acting.

Okamoto made her Hollywood acting debut in this summer’s Marvel blockbuster The Wolverine, costarring alongside the Wolverine himself, Hugh Jackman. Directed by 3:10 to Yuma’s James Mangold, the X-Men sequel, which is set to be released in Digital HD  November 19 and released on DVD and Blu-ray December 3, follows the hero to Japan for the first time since World War II where he encounters a new set of mutants and villains. While in Japan, he meets and falls for Okamoto’s Mariko Yashida, the granddaughter of Wolverine’s old friend whom he saved during the war.

It’s no coincidence that Okamoto’s first film has her costarring with Jackman. “My Japanese agent told me about the audition and I almost refused; I’ve never acted,” Okamoto recalls. “But then when I was told that the role would be Hugh Jackman’s love interest, I said yes right away!”

Okamoto has always cited Jackman as one of her celebrity crushes, so when she received the news that she had landed the role of Mariko while in her New York apartment, “I was so happy and honored, then I was worried. I didn’t know what to expect from my first acting role.”

But the model had a large support system. Okamoto had reassuring talks with Mangold and Jackman became a mentor to her as soon as the two met. In between takes and while on set, Jackman would give her helpful acting tips he’d learned over the years. She even got to work with Rila Fukushima, another model-turned-actress that Okamoto had known for 10 years in the fashion world but never had the chance to get to know.

 

More than anything, Okamoto found that acting wasn’t so different from modeling. “The reason why I love modeling is because I love transforming myself. I enjoy dressing up as someone else and immersing myself. Acting allows me to do that even more because now I can use my voice and movements to immerse myself even more in the role.”

Is she going to pursue acting full-time? Maybe, but not now. Okamoto plans to continue balancing her runway shows with scene-rehearsing. In the future, she hopes to act in serious dramas or musicals (yes, she can sing, too). She’s graced the pages of magazines like Harper’s Bazaar and Vogue as a model already; maybe next time, she’ll be one of the featured actresses.

 

Priyanka Chopra Makes History As First Indian ‘Guess Girl’

Priyanka Chopra has continuously made it on our list of the World’s 15 Most Followed Asian Female Celebrities on Twitter. One look at this gorgeous woman and you’ll completely understand why she is adored by fans worldwide.

Chopra, the 31-year-old Bollywood star and former Miss World adds yet another amazing accomplishment to her name. The stunning beauty was hand-selected by Paul Marciano, Guess’ president, to be the new Guess Girl. This would make Chopra the first Indian Guess Girl. In an industry criticized for its lack of diversity, this is huge news.

“I’m like their first brown model,” Chopra tells Women’s Wear Daily. “For a global fashion brand, for them to move their campaign into a global space, for me it’s an honor.”

“Being the next Guess girl was something that I would have never thought of, but when I met Paul [Marciano], he was like, ‘You’re it. It has to be you.’” she adds.

The new Guess campaign will premiere in the December issues of Harper’s BazaarNylon,PaperMarie ClareElle, and WSJ Magazine. 

As we mentioned previously, this is simply adding onto her list of already impressive achievements. For instance, Chopra became the youngest person to ever win Miss World at the age of 17. She has starred in some of the highest grossing Bollywood films of all time, has an album releasing soon, was named a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador for Child’s Rights in 2010 and wrote for the Times of India. 

Clearly, Chopra is a force to be reckoned with. We can only hope that Chopra continues to shape the face of this industry.

 

BOLLYWOOD GOSSIP: Deepika Padukone compares her ex-boyfriend Ranbir Kapoor to rumored new beau Ranveer Singh

The Deepika Padukone cover story for the September issue of Filmfare Magazine starts: “It’s the best time to be Deepika Padukone, right now.”

The Bollywood actress (daughter of famed cricket player Prakash Padukone) has recently seen her star power shine brighter and brighter with each film release. Last year’s Cocktail was a hit, and this year brought the popular sequel Race 2; the box office success Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani, showing she still has some sizzling on-screen chemistry with her ex-boyfriend Ranbir Kapoor; and Chennai Express, which reunites her with Shah Rukh Khan.

Next up for Deepika is the much-anticipated Ram Neela, opposite Ranveer Singh, her new “are they or aren’t they dating” co-star who’s hot off the critical acclaim of Lootera, and she’s in pre-production for Happy New Year, which reunites her with not only Shah Rukh Khan but also the director Farah Khan of her debut film, 2007′s Om Shanti Om.

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Highlights from her Filmfare interview:

On her relationship with Ranbir Kapoor:

It’s always nice to have that one screen jodi that the audience looks forward to. I’m glad that Ranbir and I have formed that. I guess it’s also the way our characters were written and what the film did for us. And what also helped was the way Ayan [Mukerji], whoh’s a dear friend, directed the film. He brought out the best in us. I’m glad I have that equation with Ranbir. He’s someone I trust my life with.

On rumors about her dating Ranveer Singh:

People are more than welcome to speculate about Ranveer and me. But there’s to much goodness around me to worry about these speculations. … [As a co-star, he's] too giving, very positive and very entertaining. He’s also extremely sensitive. He puts on this tough exterior, shows his fun side, quirky side all the time. He’s all that. But beyond it, he’s also sensitive to the energies of people. To what people say. That’s such a wonderful quality for a man to have, when everyone else is trying to be manly, tough, and all of that. It’s so nice to meet someone who’s so real and so giving and so uninhibited. What you see is what you get with him.

If you were in a lift with Ranbir and Ranveer Singh together, what would you do?

A dance off between the two of them!

Who do you think will win?

Tough. They are both superb dancers.

 

Judge for yourselves!


RED CARPET PHOTOS: Freida Pinto Dazzles at 2013 Venice International Film Festival

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Audrey’s former cover girl takes to the red carpet on Thursday for the premiere of Miu Miu’s “Womens’ Tales” at the 2013 Venice International Film Festival.

Miu Miu has been collaborating with Venice Days to present this film showcase for women, by women – all to celebrate the voices of female creativity. Two films premiered at the showcase: “Le Donne delle Vucciria” (from Palestinian actress Hiam Abbass) and Ava DuVernay’s “The Door” (who was the first African American woman to win Best Director at Sundance).

Fashion house Miu Miu had stated that the series “Womens’ Tales” was to showcase “the need to stimulate reflection on women’s experiences” in all aspects of the film industry, “so they can put their heads together and share their thoughts on the nature of that ‘special something,’ so vibrant and so different, that a woman’s gaze can bring to the creation of a work of art.”

In conjunction with the two films, there will also be a series of talks with women in the industry. Pinto will appear on the panel “The Creativity of Producing” with Jules Daly, producer of “The Door,” Sue Kroll, President of Worldwide Marketing and International Distribution for Warner Bros. Pictures, and Michelle Dockery, star of Downtown Abbey on August 31st.

8 Things You Didn’t Know About Song Hye-kyo of ‘The Grandmaster’

Named one of Korea’s most beautiful women, Song Hye-kyo has certainly made a name for herself in her home country, starring in hit dramas and films like Full House, That Winter, the Wind Blows.

This month, she stars alongside Tony Leung and Zhang Ziyi in the Wong Kar-wai-directed martial arts drama flick, The Grandmaster.

But, there’s more to the actress than just her stunning looks and remarkably impressive resume.  For those of you who aren’t in love with her already, here’s some facts about the South Korean beauty that are sure to get you intrigued.

1.  She’s released two photo/photo-essay books: 2011’s Song Hye-Kyo’s Moment and 2012’s It’s Time for Hye-Kyo.

 

2.  Naturally, she’s an advertiser’s dream, starring in ads and CF’s (commercial films) for big-name brands like Laniege, Levi’s, Etude House, and McDonald’s.

 

3.  Like popular actress Han Ga-in, Song Hye-kyo is a VIP.  Not just a Very Important Person, but a fan of Big Bang, whose fans are called “VIP’s.”  In an interview, she mentions how their music gives her “positive energy” and how the group’s “sense of freedom” is something that she enjoys.

 

4.  Her and former boyfriend Hyun Bin (of Secret Garden fame) were voted by Koreans as the couple they’d most like to see get back together (and we’d have to agree!).

 

5.  She puts her fame to good use.  Over the years, her philanthropy and volunteer work has included: providing funds to help establish an elementary school in China, volunteering at a local animal shelter, advocating for animal rights, designing a bag with mega-brand Celine in which all proceeds went to charity, and funding the creation of Braille guidebooks for the Independence Hall of Korea in Cheonan.

 

6.  She gifted her mother with a home worth 6,000,000,000 KRW (~$5.3 million).  It is the most expensive single family home in Korea.

 

7.  She recently showed off her singing chops in a super sweet duet with Superstar K2’s John Park called “Switch”: it was made to be the background music for a makeup commercial!

8. She’s a fashion favorite: besides appearing in various editorials for top Korean magazines like Elle, Vogue and High Cut, she’s sat front row at one of Chanel’s fashion shows, being invited by Karl Lagerfeld himself!

Fifty Shades of Beauty: Kristin Kreuk of “Beauty and the Beast”

Actress Kristin Kreuk may not have always been comfortable playing the role of starlet, but the Chinese-Dutch Canadian star of The CW’s Beauty and the Beast is finally embracing all sides of herself: leading lady, producer, adventurer, blogger and, yes, even a bit of a fashion plate.

BUY OUR FALL 2013 ISSUE WITH KRISTIN KREUK HERE.

 

KRISTIN KREUK has been in the spotlight for more than a decade, from the time audiences fell for her as Superman’s girl-next-door crush Lana Lang in the popular TV series Smallville to present-day 2013, as star of The CW’s Beauty and the Beast, which is about to start its second season in October. Though she’s become a natural at walking red carpets and posing for photo shoots, it took her a long time to embrace fashion as a vehicle for self-expression.

Sima Kumar, Kreuk’s longtime friend and stylist who acted as the creative director for this issue’s cover spread, remembers meeting Kreuk for the first time in 2002 when she was hired to style a photo shoot for Parade magazine. “I didn’t know who she was, so I was like, ‘Who is this little girl?’” says Kumar. “She was wearing cargo pants, desert boots and a backpack.”

Prior to acting in the Canadian TV productions Edgemont and Snow White, which she did right before landing Smallville, Kreuk was a bookish high school student who competed at the national level in gymnastics. “I was kind of a righteous child,” remembers Kreuk. “I was really anti-shallowness, and in my limited view, I perceived putting effort and caring about what I looked like to be something that was somehow wrong.”

“She comes from a family that didn’t feed into how beautiful she is, and she was taught that your currency isn’t in your looks,” explains Kumar. “So when Kristin first started acting, and there was a need for her to look a certain way, I don’t think she even understood it. It seemed silly and stupid to her, especially as a teenager incubated in the world of a TV set. You understand why you’re getting dressed up to play a character, but it doesn’t translate to why you have to look a certain way when you go out in public.”

It didn’t help that much of her commercial appeal at the time depended on her being the object of desire. “That was definitely something I was also pissed about,” Kreuk says, laughing. “I was like, ‘I don’t want to be seen this way. I want to be seen as a real person. So I’m going to wear the baggiest clothes ever!’”

It took an eye-opening hiking trip to Nepal, where she found herself really sick but surrounded by joyful children, for her to realize she was vehemently resisting something she actually loved.

“I literally got out of the Himalayas and was like, ‘I’m going to put on some freakin’ makeup, earrings and a nice shawl,’” says Kreuk. “‘What am I so afraid of? I love beautiful things, gorgeous textiles, colors and craftsmanship. I want to look good and feel good.’”

“She’s very defiant,” says Kumar. “If you tell her she can’t do something, she’ll say, ‘I’m doing it!’ And she does get stared at a lot, so I think she didn’t want to bring attention to herself. But once she worked through her issues and became more comfortable in her own skin, she realized that the way that you present yourself in an aesthetic sense can actually be a very deep representation of your inner beauty.”

As a biracial Asian actress, Kreuk has had a unique career in some ways, because her mixed ethnic background — her father is Dutch Canadian, her mother is a Chinese Canadian born in Indonesia — has often been a strength rather than a limitation.

“I don’t even know if [the casting director] knew I was part Asian when I went out for Smallville,” says Kreuk. “I don’t know what it is. It might just be the way that my mix turned out. I’m definitely not white, but I can bleed across many different categories, and that’s been beneficial to me in many ways.”

Though she doubts she’d be pursued for Old English roles, she can play characters for which ethnicity is not a defining factor — Lana Lang, Hannah in Chuck, Heather Thompson in Ecstasy, Maria Lucas in Vampire, even Snow White — as well as characters that are specifically Asian, like Edgemont’s Laurel Yeung and Street Fighter’s Chun-li (though she’s quick to point out that not everyone thought she was Chinese enough, nor muscular enough, for that role).

Just the fact that she was asked to put on her best Indian accent and mannerisms to portray a displaced Muslim woman (“Yes, if you go to the north of Pakistan, people do look like me, but not many people know this,” she says), resulting in her landing the acting role that she’s most proud of to date, speaks volumes. During a time when American fans’ investment in her was mostly filtered through the lens of Lana’s relationship with Clark Kent, the 2007 Canadian film Partition allowed Kreuk to be a part of a sweeping 1947 love story amidst the partition of British India that resulted in violent political and religious strife.

In recent years, Kreuk has amassed enough clout in Hollywood that both Chun-li and her current role as Catherine Chandler in Beauty and the Beast were specifically written as biracial Asian in order to accommodate her casting. With Beauty and the Beast, she returns to the world of mythology. Loosely inspired by the 1987 series of the same name, Catherine is the “Beauty,” a NYPD detective who, as a teenager, saw her mother murdered, and Vincent Keller (played by Jay Ryan) is the “Beast,” a former soldier who, as part of a top secret experiment gone awry, was injected with a genetic-mutating serum that causes him to have dangerous strength when provoked. This past May’s cliffhanger ended with one of them captured in a helicopter and the other looking up to the sky in despair.

“Last season, we established their love for each other, that they’d essentially do anything for each other,” says Kreuk. “Now you have to test it. This season, we’re going to see the toll that it takes on them.”

Though she’s proud of the show, it’s important to Kreuk that she not be confined by The CW box. Her main goal is to eventually become a creative producer. An actress who’s been reciting other people’s words for a decade, Kreuk wants to have a hand in telling stories of her own. In 2009, she cofounded the production company Parvati Creative Inc., which focuses on human-centric films that feature women both in front of and behind the camera. Supporting women’s voices is an issue she’s passionate about, and she cites female executive producers Sherri Cooper and Jennifer Levin as one of the main reasons she was excited to sign on for Beauty and the Beast.

In the meantime, she continues to dabble with the unexpected, whether it’s accumulating more international travels (her annual “Wild Women’s Adventure” trip with her three girlfriends has taken them everywhere from Argentina to Ecuador, from Italy to Syria and Turkey, and, this summer, Mongolia), writing personal stories on her new blog called New Culture Revolution (which she and Kumar just started in May while they were basking in Kauai sunshine eating papaya), taking more risks with her off-camera fashion choices (from her “rock-star girlfriend” furry vest look in this spread to showcase her wild side, to her bespectacled 1970s Charlotte Rampling look at Comic-Con 2013 to display her nerdier side), or — Kumar’s personal favorite — throwing out a politically incorrect joke that’s just enough to shock everyone who might think they’ve got her pinned down.

“She’s almost like a little jack-in-the-box,” says Kumar. “People have an idea of her being so prim and proper and innocent, and once in a while, she’ll pop up and be like, ‘I’m not like that!’ If you’re around for it when it happens, it’s jaw-on-the-ground funny.”

Want more Kristin? Check out photos from our cover shoot and behind-the-scenes video here.

 

story Ada Tseng
photos Dexter Quinto, dexterquinto.com
stylist Sima Kumar
makeup & hair Eman
Shot at Kaizen Studios in Toronto, Canada, studiokaizen.com.

Summer 2013 | Pop-arrazi: Rila Fukushima

DEPT: Pop-arrazi
AUTHOR: Anna M. Park
ISSUE: Summer 2013
PHOTO: Sasaki Tomokazu

 

“THE MODEL-TURNED-ACTRESS DISHES ON WORKING WITH HUGH JACKMAN IN THE WOLVERINE.”

 

On the last day of production of the highly anticipated film from Marvel Studios, The Wolverine, director James Mangold tweeted some black and white photos he took of “three people I adore”: Hugh Jackman, who plays the title character; the Japanese model Tao Okamoto, who plays Logan’s love interest Mariko; and the elfin beauty Rila Fukushima.

Herself a former model who first gained international attention when she appeared in the D&G spring/summer 2004 campaign, Fukushima hasn’t just won over one of Hollywood’s top directors. She’s just signed with ICM Partners, one of the world’s largest talent agencies. “There are so many roles I’d like to try,” says the Tokyo-born actress, now based in Los Angeles. “I love a good challenge, and I look for roles that speak to me somehow.”

In her big screen debut, out in theaters July 26, Fukushima found plenty of challenges in Yukio, the ninja character who first appeared in the original 1982 comic book, tasked by Wolverine’s nemesis to find the mutant. “The role required intense training in a variety of martial arts styles and tech- niques, from sword fighting to bo staff,” says Fukushima, who is fluent in English. “I think the biggest challenge was the physicality of the role. Long days of martial arts and stunts were really hard. It was both incredibly rewarding and humbling to go through it. I definitely learned a lot of things about myself.”

After all, Fukushima isn’t your typical martial arts actress. Raised in Tokyo, she graduated college with a degree in English literature. While working at an advertising agency, she met an agent who encouraged her to give modeling a try. “I am not sure exactly what my first job modeling was; it was so long ago,” says Fukushima, who has been modeling for at least a decade. “But I remember that it was for one of the magazines that I would regularly buy. So one day, I got to pick up an issue, and I saw myself in it. It was such a sur- real experience, seeing the pages I had worked on in a magazine that only a few months before I was just a reader of. It took a while to get used to that feeling.”

Since then, Fukushima’s appeared in everything from Elle to V Magazine to Vogue Japan, and has done campaigns for Vera Wang, Gap, Calvin Klein CK One and Kenneth Cole Reaction. And as a model, she had occasion to work with now-co-star Okamoto. “It was a lot of fun to get to work with Tao,” says Fukushima. “She is a very talented ac- tress, and I had an amazing time work- ing through the script and spending time together with her while shooting the film.”

It seems there was a lot of bonding on set, from director to co-stars to crew. (The film features a number of Japanese actors, including Hiroyuki Sanada, as well as Asian American actors Will Yun Lee and Brian Tee.) “We had a great time every day,” Fukushima recalls. But there was one moment she particularly relished.

“One of my best memories was seeing Hugh with his shirt off for the first time,” she says. “I’m not sure if my reaction will make it into the film, but I must have looked really surprised. It was like looking at a Greek god.”

WHAT WERE YOU DOING 10 YEARS AGO?
“In 2003, I was still living and working in Tokyo. The summer was probably really hot and muggy, as it always is in Tokyo, and I was just a few months away from getting to go to New York.” -Rila Fukushima

Asians in Fashion | Zhang Jiani for A Summer Fashion Shoot

Chinese Actress and Model Zhang Jiani recently took some breath-taking fashion photos just in time for Summer. Her most recent work includes her role as Meng Jin Zhen in Gong 3 and her role as Su Su in the drama Jing Zhong Yue Fei. Clearly, she is just as good a model as she is an actress. Check out her complete control of vibrant patterns and colors in the fashion photos below.

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