Vanessa Lee’s destiny seemed written in the stars as the reluctant model was pursued by scouts throughout her formative years. After relenting she signed with an agency and the rest is proverbial history. Infused with a serious case of wanderlust, this British-bred Taiwanese beauty is a huge technophile that would be just at home in Silicon Valley as she is on the runway.
Tell us about how you were discovered.
I was scouted a couple of times growing up but it was never something that interested me for a multitude of reasons. I’m a nerd, I was shy and insecure, and I was bullied in school so I never pursued it. When I was 18 I was scouted again and my mum and sister kept telling me it was a sign because it kept happening to me. I went to see an agency and signed with them. I modeled part-time for a few years in between studying and went full-time the last few months as well as moving to New York.
What’s been the highlight of your career thus far?
I’m in a really fortunate position that a lot of my jobs enable me to travel so I’d say most of the trips have been highlights. I have a permanent case of wanderlust so any job that lets me travel makes me super happy, even if I just see the inside of a studio. I recently flew back to London for a campaign shot by Sebastian Fauna with Simon Nessman, which was insane.
What do you hope to get out of modeling?
I’ve been asking myself that since I started. More opportunities and experiences that constantly challenge and excite me? The plus side of having such a uncontrollable and somewhat sporadic job is that I am never really sure where I’ll be, who I’ll be working with and what I’ll be doing, and that is something I really appreciate. While I’m young and ambitious I believe that a job like mine is an opportunity to really do, see, make, work and figure out what I want without the responsibilities that will naturally come later. Not a lot of people can make a living off a job that affords them an unrestricted and freeing routine and I plan to make the most out of it.
What are your career aspirations?
Over the last few years I’ve become really interested in technology, startups and business. I’m a big Malcolm Gladwell fan and I live on TechCrunch and Mashable. It’s probably too soon to say, but I think that working at a startup or company that bridges both technology and fashion wouldn’t be too far from where I’d like to end up. – Hi Instagram! I also love making YouTube videos which is something I’ve been teaching myself to do recently. I’m just hungry to learn and at this point I’m just trying to figure out what I enjoy and go from there.
Rumor has it you’re a technophile. What’s currently on your radar that excites you?
I think the sharing economy is something that will continue to manifest in other areas than just travel and accommodation For example, I just read about MealPass which sounds like a decent business model but I guess it all depends on how people take to it. One of my friends started Airbnb which is still, in my opinion, one of the best startups out there and now they’re focusing on India.
One of your goals is to host a TED Talk. What subject would you cover and what about the TED platform interests you?
It would probably be a very sarcastic and dark humored talk on how I think people should go about getting what they want in life. My friends often call me sassy because I have a minimal filter, little shame and most of the time I do before I think. Nine times out of 10 this has led me to some ridiculously, borderline unbelievable opportunities and experiences that no one would believe. That’s exactly when I know I’m going about things the right way. My second topic of choice would be a talk about how being funny is better than having abs. Screw abs! I hate working out and I roll my eyes when models say they love it or that their body craves it. I don’t know about you, but my body craves fries.
What’s your life philosophy?
It’s not so much a philosophy, but I try to do at least one thing new or scary every day which can be as small as talking to a stranger or as big as going on a trip with a bunch of people I just met a few hours ago.
What would people be surprised to learn about you?
When you meet me I am constantly joking and super upbeat. I am all about having fun, but when it comes to work I’m driven, hardworking and quick. I mean, I am Asian after all.
Can you share any projects you’re currently working on?
I just started a YouTube series that revolves around millennials that love to cook, eat and drink. The idea is that I film 1-2 episodes each week where either me or one of my friends, the majority of which are models or young creatives, cook something that is their signature dish. I show the good, the bad, the burnt and of course – the food! There is such a big movement toward the younger generation wanting to cook, it’s now cool to have food Instagram accounts and throw dinner parties yet there is nothing out there which caters for that audience. My friends and I prefer to have people over and throw brunches and dinners and it’s pretty hilarious so I figured why not start making mini films of them?