Interview by Hasan Hamze
Words by Hasan Hamze
Photography by Jenkin Au

The justalilhype! Crew met up with Jessica Choi at Iona Beach. She told us about her background and experiences of modeling and the various competitions that she has taken part in before. As she is busy catching up with her school career and working as a lifeguard, it seems like she has a promising future ahead with the experience she has gained throughout the years of being a model.

Tell us a little about yourself.

I am a 21year old student at Simon Fraser University, majoring in criminology and minoring in psychology. Other than that am a part time lifeguard for Richmond Aquatics. I’ve been in modeling competitions and beauty pageants both at home and internationally, and I also do some freelance modeling as well. I was born in Toronto Ontario but then we moved to Vancouver when I was about 4. I’m originally Cantonese, and my parents were born in Hong Kong.

What are your passions?

I like exercising; I’ve really been into that recently. I really like cooking, and a weird thing related to that is that lately I really really like grocery shopping. Its one of my favorite things to do. I like it because it’s just very relaxing! When you’re shopping for clothes, you have to walk around and try stuff on and take stuff off, and it’s a hassle when you’re not in the right mood. Grocery shopping on the other hand is relaxing ’cause you just walk down the isle, look at the nutritional information and pick whatever suits your needs. Part of it has to do with my dad being a chef, so I grew around food/cooking and whatnot. I also do simple stuff like throwing together a warm salad quickly.

Who inspires you to do what you do?

For school, since I was a kid, my mom really pushed me to be really academic based. Before I could go out to play on the weekend I would have to write a composition, and my sister (who is 10 years older than me) would have to edit it. It had to be at least 2 pages, and it would have to be either about my week or a story. If it was good enough then I was allowed to go out and play. The funny thing is that it wasn’t even part of my school homework, its something that my mom made me do! I guess for the pageant stuff I did the Miss Chinese Vancouver pageant (3 years ago) and I just kind of fell into that. I always watched that kind of stuff on TV when I was a kid, on the Chinese channel where it’s always on. So my friend was like “hey, why don’t you do this?” and he gave me a form. I told him that I don’t have time because I have school and whatnot, but then he told me that I was going to do school for the next 4 years so I might as well join. I had to submit the form with a photo and then they called me back for an interview. For the interview, I remember I was running late for work, and there were two parts to it. The first part was the self-introduction, and then about five of us girls would come in with bikinis. So I told them that I have no time, so I asked if I could do the self-intro in my bikini. I guess they were really surprised when I came in with my neon green bikini cause they weren’t expecting someone to be so comfortable sitting in front of judges and talking like that. I’m a lifeguard so a lot of the time is in a swimsuit anyways so am kind of used to it. As a result I got their attention and so they called me back and told me I was one of the finalists. I was kind of upset because there was so much training to do and so I knew I would have to drop some courses so I didn’t know if it was worth it or not. So I ended up dropping 2 courses that semester and trained for 3 months and ended up winning! Then went to Hong Kong to do the Miss Chinese international.

What are you working on right now when it comes to modeling?

Right now am taking a breather. I guess am throwing together my portfolio, because I just finished exams and I never had time to do it during the year. I usually do Vancouver Fashion Week, but this year I didn’t do that either. I think the Olympic break just threw everyone off. I would have had much more time to settle down in my school and to get the modeling stuff worked out, but no, none of that happened, and I blamed it on the Olympic break! For right now though am thinking more academically, maybe co-op next semester because modeling isn’t something I think of as a career, its something that is fun to do that is good to look back on when you’re older and show your kids. I don’t think of it as something that will pay the bills. It’s like a hobby and something I do on the side and I really like it!

What do you think your career will be?

I don’t know, am taking psychology and criminology, so hopefully something related to these fields. I know some friends who are doing psychiatric nursing and that look pretty cool, but at the same time I want to be a paramedic. This is because right now, am a life guard and I like the whole concept of saving people, but not so much the nursing them back to health so I wouldn’t want to be a nurse. I want to be there on the scene to save your life, and then other people can care about you (laughs).

What’s one thing that people don’t know about you?

The grocery-shopping thing kind of throws people off! Am usually pretty confused but I think people can tell! I also think too much, for every single thing. I overanalyze, not sure if people see that in me, but I definitely do.

What are some crazy modeling experiences?

There was this one time in china when we were filming for a video that was going to be part of the pageant, and it was really cold. We were wearing our little outfits, almost like cheerleading outfits because we were in a stadium and we were supposed to run around into our formations. I was really cold and I was sick already so I had a runny nose but I didn’t have any tissue. When I had a tissue I didn’t know what to do with it and I kept needing more, so I took the tissue and in the left boot I would keep the tissue I used and in the right boot I would keep the clean ones, so whenever we weren’t filming for a second, I would take out a tissue from my right boot, blow my nose, and put the used one in my left boot, so yeah it was very innovative!

What do you look for in a guy?

Very basic, I would like to think am very easy to please.


(Everyone laughs)

I like someone who makes me laugh for sure. I like someone who doesn’t have to have me say what I think, he just knows. It’s difficult when you have to dictate or teach a person how to treat you. I like someone who shows me new things, something fresh that I don’t know yet or else it gets boring right. If I know everything and I’ve done everything you’ve done, and if you don’t have anything to put in my life then it’s kind of a deal breaker. I would like a guy to be taller than me, nice smile, hopefully weighs more than me, someone who is fit, and relatively good looking, but my standards of good looking are variable. I don’t think I have a specific type of guy I look for.

What are some turn ons and turn offs?

Turn offs, loud eating is a no no! Poor family relations, I like someone who is well integrated in their family and they get along really well. I don’t know I have really small pet peeves, like the way someone walks can get to me. I don’t like someone who makes me feel uncomfortable, someone who makes me feel like I have to watch what am doing in the sense that I might feel that am not good enough for them unless am on my best behaviour, so I guess someone who makes me feel inferior. Also, when guys don’t share their food with me. I had a boyfriend one time that would be mad when I take some of his fries and he would be like, “why don’t you get your own?” which was kind of ridiculous. 

For turn ons, someone that makes me laugh, someone not too self-conscious. And that actually turns me on. Cause if they watch every move and they make sure everything is perfect around you then that are too mechanical, and it doesn’t feel genuine.

What do you think is sexy about you?

I like my back a lot. I don’t think sexiness is like BAM! A lot of cleavage or BAM! A nice bum it’s more subtle and I think it’s when you don’t know that you’re sexy, makes you sexy, so not as much when you’re flaunting it. I guess confidence in myself makes me sexy.

What do you think about the Vancouver nightlife?

I went to Seattle a while back and tried the nightlife there, and I can tell you its Vancouver for the win! I think its because all of the clubs and stuff are condensed in one area as opposed to Seattle, where we were looking around for a long time for the place we were supposed to be, on foot, which was not cool.

What’s your week usually like?

Before, it was school, homework, work at the pool, and call my friends out, grocery shopping! I sometimes also have late night Superstore runs with my friends. I’m taking a couple of summer classes which wont be a whole semester long so I’ll have some free time.

What are your plans for the summer?

My plans for the summer are just to work as much as I can to save up because I feel like going to Honk Kong and see my family there, so I got to make money for the plane ticket. Other than that I just want to get out more and exercise and just breathe some fresh air!

What are your favorite foods?

I like steamed fish, a traditional Chinese dish with soy sauce and green onions on top. Am really into roasted artichokes with mozzarella right now, that’s the phase am going through and I go through a lot of food phases (laughs). Am also in a mushroom phase right now as well! I buy mushrooms and cut ’em up and eat them raw with dip or even sautée them sometimes. I just like food a lot, nothing in particular though. I went to a place in Seattle with many different types of sausages and they were really good. So yeah I like sausages (laughs)! I also like desserts a lot!

Where do you see yourself in the future, 5-8 from now?

Hopefully not married, maybe I’ll get married in my late 20’s, just because right now marriage boggles my mind, I can’t think of it as a feasible concept. The concept of marrying someone and having a child is a lot of responsibility and you cant really exchange or return a child so you got to take care of them for the rest of your life. Hopefully I’ll also be settled into a career job and have my own place by then.

What is HYPE?

The first thing that comes to my mind is the new big deal, which has a lot of HYPE around it. Then I think of HYPER. I think of hype as something that doesn’t last, its just fleeting, kind of like a fad. If you get past the stage and the hype turns into a pattern/practice or something that is solidified then its more than just hype.