The recently winner of Sports Illustrated’s 2016 Swimsuit Model Search, NecesCity speaks with Hong Kong-born model and ass-kicker Mia Kang about life in the lens, Bond Girl aspirations, and what she misses most about the Fragrant Harbour.
You were born in Hong Kong but live in New York; how often do you return to our fair city and what do you miss most?
I try to come back every 3 or 4 months. There is a lot that I miss about Hong Kong. I miss the convenience of the city and being able to get so much done in a day. I miss the fact that you can be hiking in the mountains or wake surfing in the sea in 20 minutes, and of course I miss the food, dong leng cha and char siu in particular.
You’re clearly far more than just a ‘pretty face’ and gave up a promising career in finance to model fulltime. Was that a hard sacrifice to make?
I retired as a model and went into finance. After working as a commodities trader for three months, and then training in derivatives consulting for another three, I decided to move back to Hong Kong to be closer to my family and give modeling a last spin. It wasn't a difficult decision for me to make. No one can take my education from me now that I have it under my belt. Modeling is a career with a short life expectancy, and I am lucky to be able to do it. So I thought I should pursue it while I still can.
You’re a Eurasian with a Korean mother and an English father; do you think this has given you an edge in your modelling career?
Definitely. I think selling a unique product always helps in business. It makes you stand out from the rest. I also think that these days there is a lot of value in the ethnically ambiguous look. On the downside, you’re a minority so the pool of opportunity for you is smaller. Generally when people cast they have a particular look in mind, so I have come to accept that it’s harder for me to get in the room. But when I'm in the room, that's my time to shine.
You’ve nailed your dream job, what’s next for you?
I never stop dreaming. Sports Illustrated cover! I would love to accomplish a lot. I would love to try my hand at acting. I've always wants to be a Bond Girl, I've always wanted to be in martial arts movies. But most importantly all of this is a platform for me to try and make a change in the industry.
You’re an anti-bullying advocate; does that stem from personal experience?
Yes I was bullied growing up. Bullying can destroy a person’s life. I think that it is important to try and equip youth with tools to best deal with social pressures. I certainly wish I had more strong female role models when I was growing up, and there is nothing more that I would like to do with my life than to be that for others.
You’re the perfect balance of brains, beauty and lethality - where does your passion for Muay Thai come from?
First of all, thank you, that’s such a nice thing to say. I initially tried it just for fitness purposes, but I quickly fell in love with it. I love the discipline and bravery. I think the technique is beautiful and fluid. I admire the intelligence that goes into fighting - it’s just as much about the mental as it is the physical. It’s about finding opportunities and your reflexes. I love how it makes me feel when I land that perfect shot. I definitely think that it takes a certain kind of personality to be able to do combat sports. I have always had a tough edge to me, and this is my perfect outlet. I prefer it to other martial arts because it can only be practiced with impact, and I prefer it to boxing because of the use of all the limbs.
You’ve said you’d like to act in action movies; which actresses inspire you?
Lucy Liu, Michelle Yeoh, Uma Thurman, Zhang Ziyi.
Having travelled to some of the world’s glamorous destinations, where do you call home, and where do you escape to?
Home changes for me regularly. Right now home for me is Koh Samui (where I spend a lot of the year learning and training in Muay Thai), and New York where I am based for work. Hong Kong will always be my real home and where I am from. Although I am not Chinese, when people ask me where I am from I always answer Hong Kong.
You’re out in the town in Hong Kong; where are we likely to find you and your friends?
Dinner at Mott32 or Brickhouse. Drinks at Stockton. Sitting at a table on the terrace of Dragon-i catching up with friends.
As someone who spends her life being photographed, what is beauty to you?
Beauty to me is subjectively universal. There is something innate in beauty, but at the same time we all have our own preferences. To me, beauty lies in the unexpected, in the weird, in the peculiar and quirky. I like faces that I'll never forget. Beauty has no boundaries or limitations. Beauty doesn't fit into boxes or categories. It is not a certain size, colour or shape. Real beauty is a feeling not just a thought. I think that a real supermodel oozes this feeling. She walks into a room and lights it up; she leaves people with a certain presence. It’s not only about the exterior; it’s about who she is.