Shir Chong first stepped into the limelight in 8TV's I Wanna Be A Model. There, her looks and talent shone—winning her top spot in the reality TV modelling competition and catapulting her into the industry. Since then, she has taken her career to greater heights, starring in countless campaigns and magazine covers, as well as venturing into acting.
Here, we catch up with the multi-talented model as she revealed her latest venture—her very own talent and creative agency called Art of Pout.
Hi Shir, congratulations on your exciting new venture! What inspired you to start Art of Pout?
"Thank you and I'm still very overwhelmed and excited to be spearheading Art of Pout as the founder and creative director. For me, Art of Pout represents the epitome of decades of international modeling experience expressed as an international talent & creative powerhouse. My working experiences in various continents has given me a great insight, as well as networks with some well-recognised global firms, brands and also creative minds. Art of Pout, or AOP, is the final expression of a realisation of an idea."
Tell us more about Art of Pout. What sets it apart from other agencies?
"Art of Pout, or AOP, represents the pioneer company in Malaysia to have the 3 B's. Beauty, Brawn and Brains. It is not only a talent agency but also a creative powerhouse that develops and establishes professional careers of all its charges on an international level along with the ability to create the content, environment and platform as needed.
AOP aims to bring up creative minds from across the world namely the South East Asian region and has numerous plans to bridge the 'fashion, culture, lifestyle, ideas and people' to concepts in order to find balance and merge these ideas to get the best of them.
"Making possibilities happen" has been our battlecry from day one. Our vision is to be able to grow into a synergy to expand our networkability, in order to fulfill the creative industry's chain support.
In whole, AOP is riding the wave of digital media platforms to achieve market relevance of brands, ideas and talents globally."
What is the first thing you look for in a talent? What draws you in?
"Other than the basic requirements like facial features and height, it's always exciting to scout fresh faces that has strong presence or good energy that resembles the past or present successful icons. We aim to scout and develop talent's career based on individual's uniqueness and strength by placing the faces where their market belong all around the world.
"Character. Intelligence. Strength. Style. Is what makes beauty" is our motto and we're more than enthused to be sharing this simple, meaningful concept with every faces that we work with."
You're already familiar with being in front of the camera, now you'll be working very much behind it as well. Was it a natural transition for you?
"I guess working in front of the camera is not like what most people think. The truth is, I'm constantly working with various teams across the world depending on where I'm based at that very moment. It serves as a great insight by getting involved in the creative process and to understand what the real cycle is.
In a way, yes—you could say it was a natural transition with the right people, right time, and right place."
How do you stay inspired?
"I follow a lot of different things that are related to art. I'm often very interested in reading biographies or watching documentaries about artists, designers, filmmakers etc. But every now and then, I'll make time for myself to travel, to immerse into different cultures and gain new perspectives in life experience."
Now you're a model, actress and an entrepreneur. Is there anything else you'd love to venture into?
"Other than acting as the judge and mentor for 8tv's I Wanna Be A Model 2016, not many know that I was also the show consultant behind the programme. After completing the project, I was given the chance to handle a casting and was the show director for FWD X Interlude ft. designers such as Zakwan Anuar, Justin Chew & James Hock (London based) then followed with another Private Preview with the unreleased Adidas FW17 Collection.
With the Creative Powerhouse division of AOP, I'll be more taking part in more and different creative projects that involves a lot of brainstorming and producing work. What I'm doing right now is my first love along with being an actress and all this is what I want for the moment."
What advice will you give to young talents that are just starting out in the industry?
"I think we have lots of passionate young talents out there but not all of them understand what it takes to be a professional full time talent/model. It takes a lot of discipline, focus as well as family's support to really develop a successful international career. Most talents/models take years to build confidence, experience or even their portfolio.
Before signing up with an agency, it's always good to ask yourself, what you'd like to achieve in this career so you can always understand if the agency's direction fits into yours. It's always easier to get through hard time by holding on your vision because nothing will be easy.
At the end of the day, a great career takes up an A+ attitude so stay real and grounded as it grows."
Complete these sentences:
If I weren't in this industry, I'd be...
"Selling coconut shakes on an island."
My life mantra/motto is...
"Life is a beautiful struggle."
The best things in life...