#THISISME Model John Hui "If I Can Do It, You Can Do It"
We aim to give our models and talent a platform to share their stories. Within the industry there is an underrepresentation of models and talent who feature within our THIS IS US divisions, through our new blog series #THISISME we hope to continue to widen this pool and showcase more diverse stories...
In our most recent interview, we had the pleasure of catching up with SR model John Hui. John joined our 'Real' and 'THIS IS US' divisions last year and we've been thrilled to witness his modelling career grow here at SR. In addition to sharing his fashion tips and tricks, John is very honest about his experiences as an LGBTQ+ model in the industry and he openly shares his journey with his followers. Keep reading to learn more about John and his experience as a model.
SR: "When did your journey into modelling begin?"
JOHN: It has is been an odd journey because I didn't plan on becoming a model at all when I started collaborating with photographers. I just really loved photography and using my body to create art. I'm a big fan of Lady Gaga and I studied art, so I've always loved the creative aspect of doing photoshoots. And being online constantly has naturally motivated me to try it out.
After a year of posting some photos, I got my first job booked through a friend through Instagram. And to my surprise, they offered to pay, which was shocking at the time because I always thought I had to be super well-known to make money! That experience gave me the idea that this could be a career path but I thought I just got lucky.
At the time, COVID had just started, and I was trying to start my own art business (view John's art here), but I wasn't making enough money. So, I thought, why not pursue modeling? I got all these photos and there’s nothing to lose. Though, my biggest enemy was me. I didn't actually believe that I was good-looking enough. At the same time, I had the benefit of the doubt because people online would say that I was. It was a situation where I had to fake it till I make it.
I applied to SR, thinking that if I don't get any response from them, I’d just give up. But I got signed! It gave me such a confidence boost that I started to believe that if I work hard enough on something and put my mind to it, I could make anything happen. And before I knew it, I was in an Old Spice commercial, I got to be on my favorite show Glow up, and recently shot a commercial for Google Pay x Samsung, which is crazy to archive in under 2 years! I can't wait to see where this will take me!
SR: "How did you hear about SR?"
JOHN: So, my friend Joe Foyster (who’s been killing it!), who I met on my first booking after getting signed, told me about the agency. When I asked for recommendations, SR was the first one that popped up in his mind, and he said they're really professional and have been giving him constant bookings. When someone remembers a particular thing immediately, that's a cue that says, "this agency offers a lot of value.".
SR: " You recently shared your ‘How to become a model in five steps' reel (which we loved!), but if you could only give one tip to an aspiring model what would it be?"
JOHN: I’ve got so many but I think the most important one would be to find your "why". It's basically the reasons for why you do what you do. I borrowed this mindset from Simon Sinek's book "Start With Why". It is basically a principle that says - if you want to have longevity in your career or anything you do and feel fulfilled and a sense of meaning, your "why" will keep you going no matter the difficulty that you face. Simply because your purpose or goal outweighs the challenges you might face.
For me, my "why" is my love for the creative aspect of the work and also it is my dream to leave a legacy for my family and make them proud. So no matter how much rejection I face now, I remind myself that these rejections are necessary for me to learn. So that I can continue to create for myself and to achieve something bigger every day for my family to witness and my future family to benefit from.
I highly recommend applying the same thinking over everything you do on a daily basis and being mindful about how you spent your time. By knowing my values and acting accordingly, I feel alive every day knowing I’m working towards those goals.
SR: "Your statement “Believe me, if I can do it, you can do it” is a powerful one, could you delve into this more?"
JOHN: I'm surprised you noticed that in the caption! It’s such a cliche but I really do believe it and I think more people need to believe it too.
When I moved to the UK at 12, I always felt like I wasn't desirable because Eurocentric beauty was always put on a pedestal. Blonde hair, blue eyes, muscular build, tall - I didn't have any of those qualities, so I thought anything that wasn't Eurocentric was just not desirable. Years of that sort of conditioning has deeply shaped my worldview and affected my self-esteem. On top of that, just 10 years ago the world despised people like me - a queer Asian art student.
I had to work on myself for years to become more confident in the way I look, love, speak, and just be. Now I realise that my qualities set me apart, and I just needed to create my own definition of beauty. Once I started practicing that and unlearning those outdated and biased beauty standards, I could see how valuable, powerful, and beautiful I am.
Asian eyes used to be laughed at, and now it is desirable. When you define your beauty and communicate effectively to the world by being visible and celebrating those who are similar to you, the world will have no choice but to adapt. Given the way I grew up, I really believe anyone can convince the world that they are worthy and can achieve their goals. It all starts with belief.
SR: "There is a space for everyone in this industry, what would your advice be to other LGBTQ+ aspiring models who feel like their confidence or uncertainty is holding them back?"
JOHN: For people like us, uncertainty is particularly daunting. Because we sometimes find ourselves wondering whether it's because we are queer when we don’t get booked.
Again, I think these feelings are associated with the mistreatment we get as kids when people realised we were different. I’m sure we all have those people in our lives that are intimidated by things that are unfamiliar to them. Whether it's related to identity or people with dreams and aspirations. They would project their own insecurities onto us by verbally attacking us or talking us down. Sometimes it could just be a feeling that people in our community would experience.
Though when I decided to work on these internalised judgments that are seeded in my mind, my confidence would recover. I no longer saw the world as a threat. Instead, I realised that how you see the world is a choice, i.e. I can shape my world by choosing the way I interact with it. Understanding who I am, my fears in particular, and what I can do to address them, has been a game changer. This could involve seeking help from a therapist or talking to people you trust, as well as reading books or listening to podcasts.
Now, when I do my self-tapes or go for castings, I’d do the best I can. Afterward, I'd try my best not to ruminate and keep neutral expectations. I ask myself “have I put in the work to get closer to my goals? Or my ‘why’ (as I mentioned previously)", rather than “Did they think I look stupid with that hair?” This doesn't mean that I'm immune to feeling bad about anything. It is not about solving low confidence or uncertainty once and for all. it's about fortifying your self-beliefs and your confidence. So that you're prepared to build yourself back up when your confidence is shaken. Instead of saying “screw it, I’m no good!” and then numbing myself with Netflix and junk food, you become conscious and accepting of those feelings. You’d say to yourself “we’ve been here before. It is a small bump in the road and it is not my fault. With rest, good food, and supportive company, I can fight on and win on another day.”.