Interview: Elektra Yu of Asia's Next Top Model


Hong Kong model Elektra Yu tells Arthur Tam about her aspirations in the new edition of Asia’s Next Top Model – and how she isn’t a ‘lang mo’

It’s about to get real on catty catwalk drama Asia’s Next Top Model. For those who are unfamiliar with the show, it’s the comprehensive Asian adaptation of the Next Top Model franchise, which originated in the USA with Tyra Banks and now China, Korea, Thailand and Vietnam all have their own versions. Young ladies aspiring to be successful models go through a series of challenges, photoshoots and struts to beat out their competitors. It’s an emotional rollercoaster of tears, anger, anxiety, laughter, joy and, if we’re lucky, a catastrophic fall on the catwalk – the ‘runway roadkill’ – which did happen to a winner of China’s Next Top Model. Just get back up and keep on walking. That’s how to become a top model who wins fabulous prizes, which include SG$100,000 (more than $600,000 in our currency), a Subaru, a modelling contract and a feature spread in Harper’s Bazzar.

For the second ‘cycle’ of Asia’s Next Top Model, premiering on January 8, the competition is set around different cities in Malaysia, with the beautiful Nadya Hutagalung acting as the host. We’re hoping to see her lose her cool and yell at a contestant like Banks did in the US’s ‘cycle four’ series. It might just elevate the show’s ratings across the globe.

Seventeen girls are chosen from 10 different Asian countries for Next Top Model: Korea, India, Malaysia, Singapore, Vietnam, Indonesia, Thailand, Taiwan, Japan and Hong Kong – with Elektra Yu Chi-ka representing our city. Standing at 175cm tall and weighing in at 62kg, Yu seems like formidable contestant with her masculine facial features and admittedly international appeal. “I’m not that kawaii local look nor a lang mo with just big boobs,” she admits, when we speak to her. She actually named herself Elektra just for the show as a sign of her ‘ferocity’.

The 21-year-old is a recent graduate of HKU and holds a degree in translation and a double minor in Italian and music, and also lists fencing as a hobby.

It wasn’t until June last year, while doing test shots for a photographer friend, that Yu was encouraged to apply for Next Top Model. “I’ve wanted to be a model for quite a while actually,” she says. “When I was still in secondary school, I started watching America’s Next Top Model. In my mind modelling is filled with glamorous things.” But with that said, Yu admits she’s also prepared to face the harsh reality of rejection. “I am ready any time, because I have prior experience of rejection,” she says. “I’ll just have to remain healthy, practice and keep on trying.”

Yu’s boyfriend of three-and-a-half years and her siblings have been supportive of her decision to pursue modelling – but her parents are still on the fence. “My parents, especially my mum, have expectations for me to, let’s say, get a government job, because they sponsored my education,” says the model. “Working in an office is not what I want – so, sorry parents, I’m not doing that. I’m following my own path. I think it’s a bit rebellious but that’s what I want.” Spoken like a confident top model. Good luck.

Asia’s Next Top Model Season 2 Premieres Wed Jan 8 at 9.40pm. On Star World (now TV channel 528).


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