Maria Summers is a professional model. For fear of being pigeon-holed by prospective employers, she prefers not to give her age or marital status. 'You get asked questions such as: 'Would your husband mind if you travel',' she says. 'This is the 90s, get a grip.' A British citizen, she has been in Hong Kong for just over two years, and lives in Mid-Levels. She has a degree in drama and English from Surrey University, and has acted in the UK and Tokyo. Her work involves photographic shoots for fashion magazines and advertisements for skin-care products, and she also does catwalk work. What's on your mind? I'm leaving next week, so I'm trying to tie up the loose ends. At the moment I'm trying to get photos from past employers, and it's been quite hellish. It's not the money - I need those photos for my portfolio. I'm going back to London for a while, and then I'm planning to go to New York to model and get into drama school there, to do acting and directing. I want to be in a more creative environment. I've had enough of Hong Kong. Why? It's just not enough in terms of acting for me. Modelling's fine, but even that's difficult here. If they think foreign, they think blonde and blue-eyed. Do you regret leaving before the handover? I might come back for it. I always thought I would be here for it, but I think going to New York is a lot better. Are you concerned for Hong Kong's future? I don't see it being a real conciliation between the two countries. I would be surprised if they get along. They are such different animals, and both are very stubborn. What's it like modelling in Hong Kong? Hong Kong is a very superficial place. It's all very much for show. Really, living here for any length of time is a strain. Everything is in your face all the time. There are some people who think to be a model you have to be very distant and stuck up, removed from everything else. Going to castings is quite funny because people are so snotty towards each other. When I go to tell people what I do, I hesitate. I tell them I clean elephants' teeth at the zoo.