Making a global diva

Model-actress Thanh Hang has turned heads and dropped jaws cat-walking her way onto the world stage.

Showing off her long legs o­n the runway, 25-year-old supermodel Thanh Hang is hard not to notice.

The country’s hottest model and film starlet strutted her stuff at the Seoul Fashion Week 2008 in Korea last month, and those who attended took notice of the first Vietnamese model to perform atthe event.

New fans hounded her for pictures while international fashion industry players were eager to collaborate with her.

Hang has come a long way from the tall and awkward school girl who was so self-conscious about her height that she hunched over to fit in.

By the time the anxiety-ridden teen graduated high school, she had developed a hunchback due to insecurity.

But she soon realized her height was a blessing, not a curse, and worked for six months to correct her posture.

The correction paid off as by the age of 19 she was modeling o­n runways, advertisements and for fashion magazine photo shoots, o­n her way to becoming Vietnam’s most famous local model.

Hang says getting over her initial anxieties about being different was o­ne of her first and biggest lessons about success.

“I could never have been famous or have worked internationally if I wasn’t distinguished from other performers and if I wasn’t confident in my features,” she says.

“Confidence makes beauty and courage makes success.”

Filled with confidence and courage, Hang’s long legs and self-assured carriage quickly made her a star as she was soon crowned Miss Vietnam Photogenic 2002.

To the silver screen

In 2004, after two years of successful modeling, Hang turned to the silver screen without ever having taken an acting class.

Though some were skeptical that Hang could act, she silenced all critics when she was nominated for Best Actress at this year’s Golden Kite Film Festival for her role in the Tet holiday blockbuster Nu hon Than Chet (Kiss of Death).

She maintains that confidence in her untested acting abilities is what has led her to success.

“If you think you can’t, then surely you can’t,” she says.

“Success o­nly comes when o­ne is courageous enough to grab the opportunity.”

Now known for her “don’t look back” style, Hang has always had a strong personality.

“Whenever I want to do something, I do it to the fullest.

My parents have always supported me because they either believe in me or know they can’t change me,” she says.

The world’s a stage

As the first-ever Vietnamese model invited to Seoul Fashion Week 2008 last month, Hang captivated the audience with her distinguished runway walk and her unique face.

“At first, I was shocked to learn that at 1.75 meters, which is very tall in Vietnam, I was the shortest and smallest of all the participating models,” she says.

But she soon calmed down and apparently had every reason to be confident as shortly after her first walk the show director began instructing the other models to emulate her moves.

“I was very encouraged,” she says, noting that her performance made her proud not o­nly of herself, but of her home.

“When performing in a foreign country, people don’t necessarily remember my name, but they’ll remember Vietnam. I always try to do my best for my country.”

The top model says she is now more confident than ever after receiving praise from the show’s designers and directors and speaking in interviews o­n Korean television.

She says that many of international personalities and fashion-world players expressed interest in working with her in the future.

“The week-long event provided me a very good opportunity to meet foreign professionals,” says Hang, adding that she was pleased at the reception she received from the foreign audience, many of whom wanted to have their pictures taken with her after the show.

Having traveled to several countries with Vietnamese designers to promote local fashion and culture, Hang says that being dressed by foreign designers and walking at the Seoul Fashion Week was o­ne of her first major steps o­n her way to becoming Vietnamese fashion’s global representative.

“The Vietnamese fashion industry is still underdeveloped,” she says.

“Very few designers or businesses fly to Vietnam looking for models to work at international shows. Vietnamese models have very few opportunities to learn from their foreign counterparts.”

This is why Hang believes she cannot wait for opportunities, but must go out and create them instead.

“I have begun to send my portfolios to international modeling agencies. I would take any possible opportunity to work overseas.”

The initiative has already paid off as the local sensation is scheduled to fly to France for a fashion show in June.


Reported by Luu Hong