(Editor’s Note: This interview with model Jennifer Nguyen was conducted back in March 2012 by Tom Heckbert for the now-defunct website Eyestrane.com. It’s been republished at Idol Features courtesy of Tom.)
Please let me introduce myself. My name is Jennifer Nguyen. Born November 18 1987. Yes, that makes me a Scorpio. I know….sounds sexy doesn’t it? (laughs) I was born in Regina, Canada and the oldest in my family. I have one sister and one brother. We don’t always get a long and really see each other point of view but hey! I still love them to death. My family moved around a lot when I was young so I was really shy. Always changing schools can take a toll on you and your social life. I never had long lasting friends or even stuck around long enough to make a image of myself (laughs). I landed in a little town call Prince Rupert when i was about eight years old and that’s where my family managed to stay for about seven years (laughs). That’s where I finally had time to create a little childhood life for myself. I made a lot of friends in elementary school and was….well… a pretty big tom boy. I use to always race the boys at break or arm wrestle them in class. I rocked the pony tail like Pam Anderson rocking with her girls. I wore a vest and cargo pants. I have to admit though ….as much as I was a tomboy …..I LOVED THE SPICE GIRLS! Watching their video was my routine when I come home from school (laughs).
My family owned a restaurant in Prince Rupert so I started working at a pretty young age. I would come home from school and work at the restaurant till closing. Now that I think about it…..working back then made me many tips (laughs). All you have to do is be cute and smile! you don’t even need tits! Prince Rupert is a very small town. To ease my boredom I had my whole huge family of cousins to go on random adventures. The one thing I always remember doing most as a kid is creating clubs and running it or setting up my cardboard box on the side of the street near my restaurant to sell who knows what for a couple bucks so I could go to the dollar store and get a toy (laughs) I remember this one time I was walking down a alley and I saw a huge refrigerator box and I thought to myself….” wow…that is one awesome club house!” I dragged that box all the way back to the back to my restaurant. Cut windows into it. Colored it and even taped a smaller box next to it and cut a door out of it. I named it Jennifer’s clubhouse and all my cousins would beg me to join the club. I let them all join and we played in it all day. I was so damn proud of myself but the next day I came back to my restaurant after school and I saw that the box got ruined by the rain. It was completely soaked and mushy! I was pretty sad (laughs). So I guess I can say as a child, I was really ambitious already and I always wanted to be the one in charge and I was a little business girl always trying to make some money to get some ice cream or some arts and crafts at the dollar store.
High school rolled around and I was having a blast. Had a awesome group of friends and I was thinking to myself, hey! I think I’m going to be here for a while! That thought didn’t last too long because my mom then announced to me that we were moving to Vancouver. I was in the middle of grade 8 so I begged her not to move because that would kill me in school but my mom insisted that we move. Soo here we go again. Moved to Vancouver. Didn’t know anybody at all and then my 15th birthday rolled by and I had nobody at my birthday party except for my parents friends. Started high school there and it just really sucked that you know you pretty much have to start over. I made friends pretty quickly thankfully! I never really had a group of friends that I was set to hang out with. I bounced around a lot and hung out with everybody in school. I changed my style a lot too (laughs). High school I fell out of being a tom boy and got more into make-up and hair and more girly clothes but my personality was still boyish (laughs). I am very competitive and tough. I will stand my ground and will fight if I have too. I had a lot of guy friends because I get along with guys a lot better then girls (laughs).
I wanted to be a Vet when I was younger ….then it changed into a fashion designer then a hair stylist…oh yeah and a cartoonist [haha]. I am a very artistic person. I love anything that has to do with entertainment and music and art. I ended up wanting to be a make-up artist when I got out of high school and instead of enjoying my summer, I enrolled myself into one of the top 3 best make-up school in Canada. I spent 10 months there learning about everything possible you can learn about make-up. I wasn’t interested in beauty make-up at all. I actually wanted to learn how to make the mask and costume for horror and fiction films. I wanted to do the special FX and monsters! During school though I learned that people in that industry don’t have relationships and they spend months in a lab without seeing their family! I can’t do that! I love my family and friends and most of all I love being around people so I guess that idea got scratched (laughs).
I never thought in my whole life to do any kind of modeling! I met a friend name Stanley Kwok and he asked me to be a model for him at a auto show because one of his models dropped out. At first I said NO! He obviously talked me into it and I still thank him today because without him making me go that day then I wouldn’t be who I am today at all! I had a lot of photographers and people come up to me for work and photo shoots and I guess it just fell into place then. I fell in love with modeling and I guess since then its been all I train myself to do. I stopped though for a bout 2 years and didn’t start up again till I was about 19 maybe? I was very fortunate to get where I am on my own without any agency help. I flew to the USA to do car shows and also around Canada. I started thinking to myself after awhile…how come there isn’t much Go Go dancers in Vancouver so I started up my own group in Vancouver. I called it “Deadly Combination” It was just me and my girlfriend Venessa at the time but we rocked it like no tomorrow. We did that for about a year and I was getting booked 5 times a week! Besides that I was bartending too! Workaholic I know. I love being busy though and that makes me feel proud of myself. I was still flying out of town to do bookings and after a year and a little bit I got pretty tired from dancing and decided to relax on that. I was still bartending and modeling but I didn’t spend too much time on it.
I moved to Toronto in 2010 and It was pretty hard at first because I left without anything at all. Came over here and within a month found a job, a place, a car! Its been a very crazy adventure for sure but I am sooo happy right now with where I am at. I recently have gotten into acting! Its SO FUN! I think I love it more then modeling….shh…did I just say that? hahah. I guess it’s because I been modeling for so long and acting just seems a lot more expressive. My personality does not match my looks at all through my pictures. I may look intimidating but I will probably be the most friendly person you meet and I am so outgoing and funny. Hopefully Acting will become as big in my life as my modeling has been. I do have a lot of projects coming up just you wait and see! Since I moved here I been ask to do so many bookings right left and center! I fell in love with the city of Toronto with their live people and how everybody here is working hard. Awesome food! I LOVE FOOD! [haha] There is always something new about me that you will learn. You won’t be able to get to know me fully but don’t worry…it’ll be close (smiles). I have many many projects coming up and without a doubt you will see a hell lot of me soon enough. I have a feeling this year is one hell of a year so don’t forget to come back and check me out, okay?!
Dreams do come true. Nobody can play your life game better then you. This game is going to be the hardest game you’ll ever play and the worst part about it is that there isn’t any cheat sheets. no…you can’t go online to figure it out. You will make mistakes but don’t worry! You can start all over whenever you want and this time…you know where that trap is so jump a little further to skip it. Hit the hard fire balls shooting at you and gain those gold coins. I believe in you (smiles).
Thank you so much for everybody who has become my friend and help support my dream. Without you guys then there wouldn’t be me. Please don’t stop supporting me because I am right behind you with your dreams and goals. When you feel the world is against you just remember me! I GOT YOUR BACK! We are all climbing the mountain to the top. I will give out my hand to help pull you closer to the top and I hope you will do the same for me. Life is a adventure and a huge climb. I’m afraid of heights are you? (laughs). Close your eyes and don’t stop! follow your heart because in the end everything will work out and your dreams will become your reality. Once again, thank you for believing in me.
EYESTRANE: Jennifer, it is a pleasure to meet you. Tell us how you are liking Toronto now what you have settled in.
JENNIFER NGUYEN: Hey guys! No, no the pleasure’s all mine. I LOVE Toronto. I love how multicultural this city is and how everybody is working to become the best at something. Inspiring people all around you and their stories to how they got where they are just makes me want to be better. I use to live in Markham but now I’m downtown and I LOVE IT! I like the busy keep moving type of pace.
EYESTRANE: You said you were a tomboy growing up. When is it that you discovered your feminine side and what do you think caused the change?
JENNIFER: (Laughs) I think it was in high school when boys decided that tomboy girls are not as kissable as girly girls. I got to get my kissing on so I need to change my look! same game…different look. (Laughs) I’m just playing. I just got introduced to those teen magazines and BAM! make-up, hair, clothes and boys yay! I am not a girly girl though, just look like one. I am still probably the most tom boy girl you’ll meet. I have a lot more guy friends then I do girls and I understand a guys thought more then a girl. Beer and games? Only if you bring the chicken wings.
EYESTRANE: With all the things you were interested in, business, the arts, being a veterinarian, you could have gone in many directions with your natural talents and interests. Any regrets with the direction you have taken with your career?
JENNIFER: HELL NO! Life is a long road of discovery. I may be doing something right now but a week from now I could be doing something completely different. Your life can be changed in a second and I think it’s just best to enjoy what is going on right now in the present and prepare for more adventure in the future. Every mistake you make will just curve you into a better much wiser person. I don’t know how long I will be doing what I am right now but I will enjoy and do the best I can until the moment of change arrives.
EYESTRANE: Tell is a little about “The Chengmen.”
JENNIFER: (Laughs) “The Chengmen” is a friend of mine. He has a Youtube channel and is hilarious. I shot the first video with him when I was in Vancouver visiting my family. I love doing comedy things so this video was awesome. I actually wanted a funnier part but “sexy” couldn’t escape me but I did love the car wash scene. The team he has are amazing guys and a blast to work with. I am looking forward to all the future projects we’re going to do together. You guys should really subscribe to his Youtube channel! THE CHENGMAN (laughs).
EYESTRANE: What is it you like about acting?
JENNIFER: I am naturally goofy and weird. I do a lot of face expressions and hand gestures and everybody says I should be a comedian. I do love comedy and acting is just so much more then just posing. I like that acting is like fantasy. Everything is unreal but you have to make people believe that it is. Anything can happen and the creativity level is out of this world. Don’t get me wrong modeling is amazing too but I been doing it for awhile now and I’m the type of person that always need to be entertained. That’s why I do so many things (laughs).
EYESTRANE: What are some of your more recent roles and have you auditioned for anything interesting lately?
JENNIFER: No I haven’t done much, I been busy trying to get a business plan together. I want to eventually launch my own makeup line. I also been working on my website and also going to be coming out with my own videos for Youtube. Lots of things to do and not enough time but once it’s up and going…..you are going to be proud (laughs).
EYESTRANE: Your modeling work speaks for itself. What are some of your accomplishments that you are proudest of?
JENNIFER: Ahhh, I never really liked this question. I always have to think back of what I liked most or when did I feel the most proudest. Truthfully I have so many moments that I feel proud of myself that I don’t have a list. It could be as simple as taking the perfect picture to being Canada Maxim girl of the week. I am also a very ambitious person. I am always thriving to be better always wanting more! I think the one day I feel the most proudest will be when I am successful in everything I wanted to be in and also being able to take care of my parents so they don’t have to work anymore. THAT will be the proudest day of my life. That’s when you know you deserve to crack open the beer, sit back and enjoy.
EYESTRANE: What do you enjoy about modeling?
JENNIFER: It may seem easy, but it’s more complicated then you think. You have to create a feeling through just a picture. When someone looks at it, what do they feel …DON’T SAY BONERS (laughs). I like the fact that everybody as their own style and I feel awesome to be a part of their art work. I also love the traveling and meeting everybody that supports me and other people with dreams just as big as mine.
JENNIFER: I hear that from everybody I meet that I have a very positive attitude. I feed off other peoples feelings a lot. If their in a bad mood it’ll make me feel bad too so I stay positive and happy because I refuse to be pulled down. It’s a good thing because I will always bring their moods up as well and make sure everybody is comfortable. I don’t like awkward situations and if it does happen I’ll be the one that cracks a joke to break the ice. I don’t have many close friends or friends from childhood but the people that I do consider friends will get all my respect. I am extremely loyal and will help if I can. I don’t care if you used to be a hooker or if you are running away from the government for stealing a hot dog stand, as long your real to me 100 percent. I will accept what you are and embrace our friendship. I guess that’s why people love talking to me. They tell me all their secrets because I would never gossip and I am too chill to judge.
EYESTRANE: Your success in modeling and the hard work you put into everything you do is an inspiration to others. Do you get a lot of women who want to get into modeling asking for your advice?
JENNIFER: Yes I do actually. I try my best to answer their questions and give them advice because I remember when I first started. I use to message and ask models myself how they got where they were and what were their advice and never got a replied in return. I learn everything from experience and putting myself out there to learn it the hard way. I remember telling myself, I will help whoever asks for it. I may not have a lot of time, but I will at least replied to them the best I can. Every one of them would tell me “OMG, nobody ever replies to me. I really appreciate you helping.” I believe everybody has a dream and I highly respect the ladies out there who are putting in the effort to make their dream into a reality. Good luck ladies.
EYESTRANE: I had read that you were working on your own line of Bikinis. Is this still in the works and are there any interesting projects in the future you would like to share?
EYESTRANE: What do you hope to be doing five years from now?
JENNIFER: Five years? I hope by then I am world wide known more then I am now. My make-up line is doing awesome! I started on my bikini line and my parents are no longer working and just sitting around eating and getting fat!
EYESTRANE: Where can we find out more about you and keep updated on your work?
JENNIFER: My official website is JenniferNguyen.ca I will soon be doing everything on there so if you would like to keep up with me…that is the place. I am also on Facebook and follow me on Twitter.
I just want to say thank you for everybody that has been with me through all this time. Without you there would not be me ….well …technically without my parents there would be no me, but you know what I mean (laughs). I have a lot plan for the future so stay by my side okay!…. For those of you who are also fighting for your dreams…head up high my friends. Do it passion and no matter what happens never change who you are ..the climb may seem far and high, but enjoy every moment your in and laugh when you can and the trip might not be that long at all. I know you can do it.