“It's about living in the future and not always living in the past."
A rapid wave of thoughts crash and hammer you to the ground; with each theory flourishing, his chosen path expands. He has it all figured out at just 17 years of age. On a journey of self-discovery, Junior Choi at PRM Models is inspired by everyone and everything in his world. "Oh it’s just a tree” - but is it? His motto: appreciate everything.
It is refreshing to meet someone so young, yet so together. This boy is effortlessly cool, unpretentious and surprisingly modest for all he has accomplished. With dreams of visiting the romantic city of Rome, launching his own clothing line and a few other businesses, Junior is a bona-fide brain box and self-confessed pasta lover. He is quickly becoming a fascination to anyone he meets; oh, and he takes pretty cool pictures.
How long have you been modelling for?
I would say a month now. A new face is what they call it.
Have you had any test shoots?
I've had a few test shoots. I was scouted in November, then I went on holiday for three weeks. I did my first show season this January, and I walked at LCM for Astrid Anderson and Christopher Shannon presentation. Since then I have also done a shoot for i-D Magazine.
Where were you scouted?
I was working at Topman in lakeside.
Instant Analogue by Cecilie Harris. Special thanks to IMPOSSIBBLE.
What were you like as a child?
I was chubby and hungry. Well, that's what my mum says anyway - apparently I used to eat food 24x7. I'd be obsessed with cocktails, not the alcoholic ones haha. I'm also told I used to eat my food, I'd throw it on the ground, step it into the carpet and then eat it like that.
I bet your parents loved that.
It’s just something I used to do. I was born in Thamesmead, in Sidcup Saint Mary’s. Then I left with my mum to go to South End, Essex and have been there ever since.
Do you like Essex?
It’s alright, it’s not as busy. I'm a city boy and I like being around busy people all the time, doing things and theres not much to do in Essex. I went to school there and I am in college now.
What do you study?
I'm doing a media course. I wanted to do that course, so I could get a background of graphics, as I would like to open a graphics company. I also want to make a clothing line as well, which I’m planning.
You can incorporate the two as well.
Exactly. Then I’m going to bring the clothing line out, because I had already planned it before I got scouted. I thought I may as well wait till after this summer and hopefully make a little name for myself. I then want to go to university and do that whilst I'm there. I'm planning to study physiology.
So graphics to fashion to physiology?
Yes, I want to do physiology as an end career. So I'll do that for a few years, then go into lecturing and finally become a therapist.
Where do you see yourself in five years?
So I'll be twenty three, I think still in University. Hopefully I will have the clothing line released and going well, as well as having a few businesses running, maybe.
You’re very ambitious.
I have a lot of plans! I just see myself chilling and working hard.
What do your friends and family think about you modelling?
My friends think its really cool. My mum hates, but loves it. She’s always saying education, education, education, but then she saw me on Vogue and was like 'ahhh'. She started screaming ‘I can’t wait to show everyone’. My dad is also very proud, but doesn’t want to be invited to any shows. He’s proud though.
Where are your parents from?
Gambia. That's were I went on holiday in December. It was the best, so much greenery and space.
It’s funny you would enjoy that, because you’re such a city boy.
I was surprised myself. I kept thinking how much I would hate it, just going to the beach all the time, but it was just relaxing and a nice break. Then It was back to reality. It's a good lifestyle though.
What's Gambian food like?
I don't know how to describe it. It's mainly traditional rice dishes. I don’t know if you’ve heard of Jollof rice? It's healthy, all natural. Gambian food is tasty.
If you were stuck on an island and you could only have one meal for the rest of life, what would it be?
Lasagna. Although it's really bad for my skin. I love it.
Can you make lasagna?
I can. It's decent, not as good as my mum's though. I can cook a lot of pasta dishes. I can season chicken, and my mum is always telling me to put lemon on it -introducing me to all the spices. I think I need to chill with mum in the kitchen a little bit more, so I can learn them African dishes.
What’s the best bit of modelling?
It’s really fun. The best bit is definitely free Instagram pictures. Taking pictures all the time isn’t me, but when it is given to you... yay uploads. Being busy all the time is also good, I like being busy. Coming straight from college to here. The support is good, everyone I meet is nice, and I was really surprised, because of the stereotype of it being a stuck up industry.
If you could travel to anywhere in the world, where would it be?
Right now Rome. It’s aesthetically pleasing, there is loads of history, and it just seems like a beautiful country.
A secret romantic?
Haha and loads of pasta, loads of lasagna! I’m a fan of museums, so there is loads to visit in Rome. I want to go there in May hopefully.
Is there anywhere else you would like to go?
Hopefully Rome in May and Ibiza in the summer, as my friend has a little villa out there. I definitely want to go back to Gambia in December, as I haven’t been since I was two and last December was my first time back. Seeing family again was fun and I did promise them that I would go back. Between all that I'll just be working on myself.
Have you been to any museums or exhibitions recently?
No, the last museum or gallery was the Saatchi gallery, which was last year. That was before fashion week.
You mentioned earlier about spiritual books that you read.
I came across a book called ‘The power of now’. I don’t actually know what influenced me to go into a book store, because last year I know I wouldn’t have. I read ‘The power of now’ and it changed everything. It’s one of those books that when you're reading it, it's almost like you think like that - your thoughts are written down. It's about living in the now, as the title basically says. It really helps you appreciate life as it is now, as living in the future causes anxiety and living in the past causes you to be depressed. If you think more in the now, then you become enlightened - so passing a tree you'll be like ‘oh a tree’. Since then I’ve started reading books such as 'The secret', which is ways to live life given by Buddha. I'm just appreciating it all right now.
How does it affect you day to day?
I'd say it has changed a lot - there's no more judging. My mind is always clear and a lot more relaxed. I've found that it helps you think before you speak. I'm also noticing more and appreciating things a lot more instead of hating on everything.
Do you have a motto that you live by?
Appreciate everything. Appreciate what is given to you.
Lastly, where does your name come from?
Junior Choi, my father is called Mumadoo and I was named after him. So now the whole family calls be Junior, because that's my middle name anyway.
And the mysterious Asian surname?
That needs to be looked into. Everyone is always saying they can see it, and I’m like ‘er really?’?
Interview by Savannah Liu.
Words by Jenny Barlow and Anna Sampson.