By Natalia Zurowski
Madi Ross is one of the most recognizable commercial faces in Thailand, touting an impressive 135,000+ followers on Instagram; for some perspective, Samantha Rollinson is in the 144,000s, and Erin Wasson is in the 132,000s. Originally from Vancouver, Canada, Ross has worked successfully in Hong Kong, Tokyo, and Bangkok. After modelling successfully in Asia, she's taken the plunge and moved to Los Angeles to pursue an acting and modelling career.
TBM talks to Madi about her time spent in Asia, ethnic ambiguity, social media, and what she hopes to accomplish in the future.
The Business Model (TBM): Bangkok is where you really generated a lot of momentum. When did you first notice your career really taking off and others noticing?
Madi Ross (MR): Bangkok was definitely a game changer for me. It all happened when I was 18. I did a small music video for a Thai artist and got a lot of publicity and recognition from it. After that, jobs started pouring in and I was known as, "the girl from the music video." I was really lucky - it was the right time and right place! I honestly never thought or planned to work in Bangkok either, it just sort of happened!
TBM: A lot of TVCs (television commercials) are shot in Bangkok; did your experience working in the market prepare you for Los Angeles?
MR: Yes, for sure! We work hard in Bangkok. Filming TVCs are long hours - I've been on set for 24 hours before! I gained a lot of really good experience though by filming in Bangkok. I'm really comfortable on camera, I know my angles, and know how to take direction. I honestly respect anyone that's filmed TVCs in Bangkok!
TBM: When did you decide to the move to LA?
MR: Well, I was based in Asia for five years. After that, I just knew and felt that it was time to leave and explore elsewhere. I love Asia so much but I was there from the ages of 16-22, so that's a huge chunk of time.
I was really lucky to get my work visa sponsored to the States. As soon as I did, I started planning my move. Initially, I planned to move to New York but at the last minute decided to move to LA, which was the right choice!
TBM: Do you feel that your celebrity in Bangkok has helped your popularity stateside?
MR: Definitely. I starred in a movie in Thailand two years ago, so after that I had a jump in my social media following. Once you have a base it just keeps growing.
TBM: Do you ever go back to Asia?
MR: I go back for work and when I do go back, I spend a little extra time there on holiday visiting friends.
TBM: What's it like working as a "Eurasian" model in Bangkok versus LA?
MR: In Bangkok my look really works, they love Eurasians so I have an advantage. In LA, the look isn't as popular yet, but it's starting! There's definitely a broader range of work in Bangkok at the moment.
TBM: Other Canadian Eurasians like Shay Mitchell and Adrianne Ho got their start modelling in Asia and ended up working in the States. Do you see yourself following a similar career path as them?
MR: I do for sure. They are among the first and there will be more to follow! I really respect both of them and the name they've made for themselves in the industry.
TBM: Do you find yourself often getting cast for ethnically ambiguous roles?
MR: Ethnically ambiguous is the word in LA! A lot of castings I go to are for ethnically ambiguous roles.
TBM: Is your mixed ethnicity something you once had difficulty accepting or is it something you've always been comfortable with? Have you ever seen it as an advantage?
MR: I struggled with it a lot growing up. I dealt with a lot of racism in elementary school which was tough. I remember wishing I was fully white so I would fit in. I honestly never fully appreciated being mixed until I went to Asia. Being mixed in Asia is such a positive thing and it was the main advantage to my modelling success there. Nowadays I love it and I'm proud.
TBM: Do you feel that there has been an increase of Eurasian models and actors in the entertainment and modelling industry since you first started in the business?
MR: I do! And it's great. I'm seeing a lot more ethnically ambiguous talent in general nowadays. There's definitely more Eurasian talent now. Like I said before, the look isn't as popular yet but it's definitely grown over the years in LA. The last Bond Girl, Bérénice Marlohe, is Eurasian as well!
TBM: Is acting your main focus now or do you have any side projects you're currently working on?
MR: I actually don't have one main focus at the moment. Acting, modelling, social media, and being in the ocean as much as possible are all the things I am currently focusing on. It's all mixed in together.
TBM: What is your number one social media tip?
MR: My number one tip is stay true to yourself when it comes to what you post. I think people can tell when it's fake. You just feel it, and when it's not real it's not cool. That's my opinion. I personally like to follow accounts that feel real. When I see people posting things that look forced or unnatural it just makes me uninterested and sometimes even cringe.
Madi Ross is a Canadian model represented by Premiere Talent Management Vancouver, Heffner Seattle, Satoru Japan, Mannequin Singapore, Area Bangkok, and 7 Artist Management LA. You can follow her on Instagram @madiross.