Ever since the 1960s with Naomi Sims, there has been a growth in diversities reaching the runway, appearing in front of fashion covers editorials internationally. Our latest series brings you mixes of all races around the world–the hottest new generation. Inspired by National Geographic’s Changing Faces article.
Photographed by Lauren Engel
all posts of NEW GENERATION
Madi Ross, half Australian half Chinese
Madi was born and raised in Vancouver, Canada on the North Shore. Her mum is Chinese and her dad is from Australia. ‘The North Shore is amazing I was surrounded by so much nature growing up. I was always outside running around as a kid. The winters and rainy times can be a bit depressing but in the summer it’s magical.’
She has modelled Hong Kong, Thailand, Japan, Singapore, The Philippines, and the USA for brands including Herbal Essences, Garnier, Puma, New Balance. Outside of model she loves traveling, the beach and being in the ocean. She’s learning how to surf which oddly changed her perspective on life! She also does boxing in her free time.
Describe your childhood and how did it shape the person you are now?
I had an amazing humble childhood! I grew up with all boys. My older brother, our childhood best friends who lived next door- Nathan and Geoffrey, and then two German boys that lived down the street. I was a huge tomboy. We spent most of our time outside exploring, playing man hunt and rugby ( with full on body checking and tackling). I was the girl they all picked on! So I had to be tough and learn to throw punches when necessary. Even though i’m girlier now that inner tomboy always comes out. I’ll never forget where I came from.
Were your parents always supportive of your decision to model? What are their careers?
My dad was always super supportive, my mum not so much in the beginning, she was really skeptical, she thought I was going to get kidnapped and sold into human trafficking. Now they are both super supportive. My dad’s a contractor and my mum is a scientist.
How did you get into modeling and was it always something you were always passionate about?
I applied to a local agency when I was 15 and they signed me. It’s always something I’ve wanted to do, I don’t even know why. Maybe I watched too much America’s Next Top Model! My agency told me I’d be perfect for Asia because I was half asian. So when I was 16 I did my first modelling contract in Hong Kong for the summer before I started grade 12. It was really fun! Everything was so new and exciting. I did really well that trip. Next year, once I finished high school they sent me to Bangkok and Tokyo. I was only suppose to stay in Asia for 6 months but I ended up staying for almost 5 years! I was doing really well and making good money so it made sense to stay I guess. Everything just kind of happened. I made so many amazing friends, most of my best friends now are people I met when I first moved to Asia. That was a big reason I stayed as well. I had a family there. It was just so fun and different than everything I’d ever known growing up. Asia changed my life, it taught me so much. I learned from travelling and having to take care of myself. But mostly I learned from the people I met. To meet so many people of different ages and backgrounds and different first languages. I learned about the world. It opened my mind and changed me. I’m a more open minded and accepting person now. I would never be who I am today if I had never left home.
Describe what happens when filming a TVC from beginning to the end
Well usually the call time is super early around 4-5am. I arrive sleepy. Everyone is arriving and hair and makeup is setting up. In this time I usually grab a snack from set. Then hair and makeup will start which usually will take around 1.5-2 hours depending on the look. During hair and makeup, the director or director’s assistant usually comes over and brief you about the day and what you’ll be shooting. After hair and makeup, we get changed and then start shooting. Shooting can last anywhere from a few hours to 20 hours. It really depends. A lot of time is spent waiting in between shots as they adjust lighting and the set. If you’re shooting outside sometimes it takes even longer, as they wait for the right sun or for the rain to stop. It’s a lot less controlled than studio shoots. So the day is spent shooting, eating, waiting, eating, makeup/ hair touch ups and more eating.
How does it feel like growing up out of suitcases and traveling the world?
It’s definitely something you get used to! At first it feels very strange, but you get used to it. What is real life? You forget after a while. It definitely has its pros and cons. It’s made me realize I don’t need much though. We live in such a consumerist society, it’s easy to collect and think we need all this “stuff”. I’ve become a lot less materialistic, i’m okay with letting go of things I don’t need anymore, I love donating and giving away old clothes etc.
Do you think the states is ready for more Eurasians, if so, why?
I do! Growing up I never knew anyone eurasian except for my brother. Now I see so many eurasian kids and families. It’s definitely becoming a normality. Eurasian models or ethnically ambiguous models appeal to larger demographics. At the end of the day modelling is about making money. Clients get a two for one with us.
What does being a Eurasian mean to you?
It took me a while to figure out who I was. I had a lot of identity confusion growing up, especially growing up in a predominantly white area. Now I LOVE it. Being eurasian is a mix of two cultures, the East and West. It’s an honour. I feel special and unique to be a minority of my time. In from now everyone will be mixed, that will be the “normal”.
Have you ever had insecurities with modeling from bookers/clients constantly critiquing your looks. If so, how did you overcome it and become thick skinned especially at such a young age?
Definitely. I think everyone has insecurities but especially models. I started when i was 16 which i think was too young. My previous manager was super harsh, way too harsh honestly, it really affected me psychologically for a long time. She would really get me down about my self and body. She gave me really unhealthy advice which lead to an eating disorder when i was 17/18. At that age I was so innocent and impressionable. It took me a few years to recover which was hard. It was a mental shift I had to make in my head more than anything. You gotta love yourself! Modelling makes you yourself so much. Today I am happy and healthy! I think being a model, you are always abnormally aware of your body and appearance. The important thing is to focus on being healthy and strong, not just skinny.
What do you love most about each of the countries you come from?
Canada is such an amazing country to be from, i’m so proud of it. Free healthcare yay! I love that my dad is from Australia, i’m such an island/ beach girl at heart. I want to spend more time there eventually and get to know the country better, i’ve only been twice. My mum being Chinese is awesome. I’m more grateful than ever for that. Because if it, I’ve grown up a lot more open minded, tried crazy foods and have an understanding of the culture. Things that freak out white people don’t freak me out as much haha
What is your perception about real love?
Real Love is something you feel. And you just know when you do. It’s programmed in us. It’s the most amazing feeling to love something or someone. I think that’s what keeps the world going. We would be nothing without love.
The moments you are lying in your bed.. which thoughts come up to you?
Hmmm so much goes on in my head when I’m lying in bed.I have so many thoughts that go from past to present to future. I think a lot about things I want to accomplish in the future. I also think a lot about the past. Sometimes i’m feeling stressed and I have bad or paranoid thoughts, but I try and not let those in. I’m a very introspective person, i think a lot, I get caught dazing off and day dreaming all the time.
Who is your model icon and why?
I’ve always loved Devon Aoki. Ever since I was 14 and wanted to be a model. She was the only other Eurasian model I knew. She also has freckles like me! She really made an impact in the industry and paved the way for eurasian girls. I love that she’s “short” as well, at 5’5. She really defied a lot of odds. There’s just something so cool and mysterious about her.