Chinadaily / Bonnie Chen [Photo provided to China Daily] In her youth, Bonnie Chen spent ten years as a professional rhythmic gymnast and was once a Chinese national-level athlete. She got her start in modelling through the Elite Model Look international competition in 2001 and ended up taking first place in the Hong Kong division. Despite her initial taste of success she chose to pursue her education, completing a degree in psychology at the University of Pennsylvania before signing with top agency Next Model Management in New York. 

Now with numerous acclaimed brands in her modelling portfolio (including Shanghai Tang, Bulgari and Clarins), Chen is also a passionate supporter of some worthy causes. Since 2014, she’s been an ambassador for the Hong Kong sustainable fashion and environmental EcoChic Design Award by non-governmental organisation Redress; this year, she’s planning to stage an art exhibition and bazaar for autistic children as a new project for her charity initiative Star, Bunny, Love, which she founded in 2012.

Do people have a misunderstanding about what models do?

Many people think models are just glamorous, making a lot of money and splurging on drinking and sensual pleasures. Some think models have “problematic” values. In fact, I think modelling is a lonely profession. In many circumstances, we’re very passive and don’t get to choose.

How do you deal with that sense of loneliness at work? 

I have many “companions in adversity” in the industry – the people who have been through all the difficult times together and grow with you. The make-up artists, the stylists… Especially when we’re in foreign countries – every year during Paris Fashion Week, I celebrate my birthday – we can always get a group of friends together for hotpot or dinner. It’s very heart-warming.

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