Model of VIRTUEMalaysia's sexiest woman, top model Amber Chia, has to beat off droves of unwelcome admirers. But under the glamour, she's no sex siren - just a small-town girl with traditional family values and in love with her childhood sweetheart
By Eri Akbar (From The Electric New Paper of Thursday, November 24 2005)
At least according to the results of a recent survey conducted by condom manufacturer Durex.
Amber Chia, who made international headlines when she was crowned one of the two winners of the Guess? watches' model search last year, is also only second to Angelina Jolie in the July issue of FHM magazine's 100 Sexiest Women.
But every time she strikes a seductive pose, she's thinking of only one thing: Her boyfriend of eight years.
'I imagine that the camera is my boyfriend and I act sexy in front of it,' said the 23-year-old.
At 18, this small-town girl, who was born in Perak but grew up in Tawau, Sabah, left for the bright lights of Kuala Lumpur. Five years later, she became Malaysia's top model.
She makes as much as RM$100,000 ($45,000) a month, lives in the prime OUG apartment complex in KL with her older sister, who's a makeup artist, drives her own Honda Jazz and has a personal assistant to run her errands.
Not bad for a young woman who once lived in a small rented apartment and took public transport to casting auditions and photo shoots.
The model became hot news again when she was voted the sexiest celebrity in Malaysia in the survey.
Other nominees include Malaysian singer Ning Baizura and actress Fasha Sandha.
Amber was also named Best Female Model at Kuala Lumpur Fashion Week in May.
With her top-model status comes the high life - rubbing shoulders with the Malaysian glitterati, lucrative endorsement deals and a budding movie career. But peel off the glamorous layer and you will find a girl grounded in traditional values.
The leggy babe is very much in love with her high school sweetheart, who's the same age as her. He used to be a model and is currently working as a quantity surveyor.
He has a lot of competition, lately from wealthy businessmen who have gone to Amber with indecent proposals after she was awarded the sexiest title.
One of them even offered to pay her twice the amount she earns as a model to become his mistress.
Her popularity with men is hard on her boyfriend, she admitted.
So, she reassures him by keeping him informed of her admirers.
Take her stalker, who did not just keep tabs on Amber's fashion shows but also secretly followed her home and loitered outside her apartment block.
Amber said that she plucked up enough courage to confront the man, who came to surprise her with a bouquet of flowers.
The man, who was well-dressed and in his late 20s, left her alone after she asked him to respect her privacy, she said.
She said: 'I tell my admirers that I already have a boyfriend. But they say, 'It's okay. We just want to support you'.'
Amber, who studied accountancy at the London Chamber of Commerce in Tawau, became a model against her parents' wishes.
She did the round of modelling agencies when she arrived in Kuala Lumpur and said she got lucky with the third which she approached.
Impressed with her catwalk style, the agency put her with over 100 models in a fashion show staged during Mega Sale, an annual shopping event in Malaysia.
Now, Amber is the poster girl for L'Oreal Paris hair products, Stila makeup and, of course, Guess? in Malaysia. She is also a regular at Gucci, Versace and Christian Dior fashion shows across the Causeway.
She gets plenty of invitations to club parties and hangs out with her pals like Malaysian singer Camelia, celebrity designer Melinda Looi and fellow top model Carmen Soo.
But Amber has not forgotten her family. She has bought a three-storey house with a garden for her family members in Sabah. And she's just returned from a two-week holiday in China with her parents.
Amber is the third of six siblings. Apart from her makeup-artist sister, her other sisters are a teacher, an accountancy student and a secondary school student. Her brother helps out at their dad's fish stall in a market.
'My youngest sister wants to be a model,' she said. 'I'll support and guide her.'
Because of her strong bond with her family, she said she has turned down long-term modelling contracts from overseas agencies. That means giving up the catwalks of Paris and Milan before even getting there.
'I'm lucky that my popularity in Malaysia lets me earn good money,' she said. 'Besides, Malaysia is my home.'
Because she knows that 'beauty does not last forever', she has branched into acting.
Amber revealed that she has been signed to act as the main heroine in a China period film.
The model, who got the part through her talent agency, said that details of the film will be officially announced only next month. But she didn hint that famous actor Tony Leung Kar Fai might be in the film.
Amber has also acted in the Malaysian movie, Third Generation, which will be screened in the next few months. She plays the wife of an adulterous man in the Cantonese language film.
'Modelling is also acting in front of the camera. So, acting comes naturally to me,' she said.
Amber also has plans to start a fashion-related business like a modelling agency or clothing boutique in future.
Currently, she said that she's attending courses to brush up on her computer skills and English.
Amber's speech is grammatically imperfect but her openness and humility are endearing. Her replies start typically with 'I'm lucky' and end with 'thank you'.
The model who once declared that 'natural beauty is 30 per cent, the 70 per cent is up to you', said that she takes vitamin C - but only the tablet supplements and not the cosmetic injection that is all the rage in Malaysia.
She would go under the knife to remove wrinkles in future, but not to alter her features, she said.
Apart from using hair and skin care products religiously, Amber does yoga and works out at the gym thrice a week.
The 1.75m-tall model, who weighs 50kg, said she replaces her usual meal of noodles with salad when she puts on weight - thanks to her weakness for chocolate.
But beauty also comes from within.
Amber said: 'I project a healthy and confident image. I think that's very sexy.'