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Q&A: Angelababy

Her latest photo book, Miss Angelababy, sold more than 30,000 copies, far exceeding the record sales of many local singers. Twenty-year-old model Yeung Wing, better known as Angelababy, is the hottest teen icon around.

Yeung (above), who is one-quarter German, was born in Shanghai where her Hongkonger father runs a fashion business. She moved here with her family when she was 13. Her unusually strong facial features caught the eye of local modelling agency Style International Management, which signed her when she was only 14.

In her six-year modelling career, Yeung appeared in a number of ads and her Japanese-doll looks won the hearts of many local teenage boys. Some have even said she's the first teen model to start the 'pseudo-model' frenzy that has garnered much criticism recently.

In May, Yeung signed with one of Japan's largest artist management agencies, Avex Group. The Form Five graduate is now studying Japanese, acting, dancing and singing and she has already been booked for film projects and catwalk shows in Japan.

She has a promising career far beyond striking cute poses.

How did you get into modelling?

It started off as a joke. When I was 14, my classmates sent a snapshot I had taken of myself to an artist management agency as a joke. Kim, who is my manager now, saw it and asked me to come in for casting.

Why are you called Angelababy?

My English name is Angela, but some of my primary school classmates found that too long to say. And I had some baby fat then, so they started calling me 'baby', which is what I was called at primary and secondary school. When I started modelling, I needed a name to distinguish myself, but also one that was easy to remember, so I combined the two names and that's how I became Angelababy.

What got you interested in fashion?

My father runs a fashion business in Shanghai. Even though he sells more mature clothes, I loved going to his store and trying on new outfits, and mixing and matching them. It was fun. I think that's how I developed a passion for fashion.

Did you dream of becoming a model?

I never pictured myself becoming a model. I did like Kate Moss when I was younger, but my real dream was to open a bank because I saw my father always depositing money in [one] and I thought it must be a prosperous business.

Has your perspective on modelling changed since you started?

Like most people, I thought modelling was easy, that all you have to do is live a glamorous life, striking poses in beautiful dresses while being pampered by a team of stylists. But that's not what it's really about. I recently shot a commercial for Harbour City about women's obsession with shoes and what turned out to be a half-minute ad took us days to film. It kept raining one day and I had to keep running in high heels from morning until midnight. Modelling jobs can sometimes be exhausting, but when I look at the impressive results afterwards, my exhaustion and complaints vanish. But to protect my image, there are certain things that I cannot do, that other 20-year-old girls can and I do miss that. You just can't escape the public eye.

Do you think you were too young when you started modelling?

I'm glad I got into the industry at an early age because I was able to learn things quicker and have time to set my goals. There was a period when I was studying and modelling at the same time. I always felt more mature than my classmates. I knew what I wanted for my future while most of them just complained about how boring school was.

What are the fun parts of your career?

The best job so far is definitely having been able to work with my all-time favourite singer Jay Chou Chieh-lun. I have loved him since my teens and was stunned when he invited me to be one of his guests at his concert tour in Hong Kong in December 2007. It was a dream come true.

How do you respond to those who say you're too short to be a real model?

There are different types of models: some walk runways, others do print ads, while others focus only on television commercials, but I am versatile. Also, there are fashion brands, particularly Japanese ones, that need petite models to showcase their outfits and that makes me valuable on the runway.

But I want to do more than just pose for photographs and after starring in two movies, I have become hooked and that is where I see my career heading. If you ask me now, I would say that I enjoy making films more than modelling, and I think I would get bored of the latter in 10 years. I am open to anything new and exciting.

Do you see yourself as different from other 'pseudo-models?'

At first, I didn't mind being called 'lang mo' [pseudo-model] if it referred to young models, but now some models have crossed the line and people use the term to refer to those who seek coverage by exposing skin. I don't mean to draw a line between myself and other models, but I believe that in being public figures we have a responsibility to show young girls what is and what is not right. I have maintained a healthy image and I hope it will remain that way. I refuse to follow this new sexy trend.

If you had it all to do over again, would you still want to be a model?

I started modelling when I was 14 and I'm 20 now. Time went by in the blink of an eye. I don't want to waste any more time and if I were given a second chance, I would still choose modelling. Right now I'm very happy with my work.