Get to know Kingfisher model Gia Johnson
She's one of the most promising faces on the Indian ramp and shot to fame with the Kingfisher Swimsuit Calendar. London-born model Gia Johnson Singh tells rediff.com what she loves about India, where her career is going and how she's still coming to terms with the 'organised chaos' around her.
How I got into modelling: I never considered modelling untill the moment I got scouted. I was 15 years old, walking down a trendy street in London whilst on my summer holidays with some girlfriends. My first reaction was to laugh and naturally, I felt quite embarrassed. When I showed my mother the business card from the lady who scouted me (Marie Soulier), my mother nearly tore it up, but later decided to meet with her, after much persuading. Studying and education was hugely important, so I knew it wasn't going to take over my life until I was an adult. That was certainly true!
My first assignment: I think it was for a Levi's campaign. Though I was very young, I wasn't silly and saved my money. It wasn't until I was older that I took it more seriously and decided to save for my own property. So many young models have made mistakes and spent unwisely. It's not something I want to regret.
The golden rules of the business: I can only go by rules I set for myself and therefore take them with me wherever I travel. Yes, India is very different so the only adjustment I make is 'to go with the flow'. Things can be very last minute and schedules can change so you have to be prepared for that and roll with it. I like to call it 'organised chaos'! I love the spontaneity that India brings me and so I embrace it. I continue to be on time, act professional, give the job 100 percent every time. That's just my work ethic! But lastly, I would say have fun and don't take fashion too seriously.
My beauty secret: Sleep. If I don't sleep, it reflects on my body and skin. Drinking water and eating good quality food is a must. And smiling. It always makes a person more attractive when they are projecting good energy.
My eating habits: My diet is very balanced. There isn't one thing I can't live without. Maybe it's because I enjoy it all.
- First tip: Include as much colour as possible into your food. Every colour includes a different vitamin that's good for the body and also helps it look exciting enough to eat.
- Second: Drink a big glass of water 30 minutes before eating. That way you won't exceed your intake.
- Third: If I fancy a naughty pizza or burgur for lunch, I'll eat it but I'll balance it out with a salad for dinner.
- Fourth: No carbs after 6 pm. I will include more pulses and veg to replace any carbs I might want. Your body can't burn that off as quick in the evening as it slows down it's pace.
- Finally: have fun with the food. Get involved and experiment. I've watched both my parents cook at a young age. It's the central entertaining point in my family.
Photographs: Atul Kasbekar, Kingfisher Calendar 2010
'One can't take oneself too seriously'
What my work-out regime is like: I'm not a huge fan of the gym, but I do try to go before work as it sets me up mentally for the day. I mainly mix cardio, stationary repetition movements and then end with swimming. I would say swimming is the best all-over workout as it has the least resistance. Stretching in the steam or sauna is very beneficial if you can take the heat. It helps elongate the muscles and clears your skin from toxins that build up.
My mother teaches the Lotte Berk method of exercising, which is similar to pilates. It's great if you can't get to the gym as you just need the floor. It helps tone and define all muscles. Unfortunately, my mother is in better shape and stronger than me, haha!
My personal sense of style: It definitely reflects my mood and the city I'm in, like everything else in my life, I enjoy a balance between designer and vintage, smart and casual. I've always been into styling and making something new from an old garment. I'm really not one to follow particular trends, as it doesn't mean it will suit you or your body shape. In London, I wear a lot of leather jackets over dresses or with jeans, but in Mumbai I love wearing and experimenting with colour. When the sun's shining, anything goes!
Tips on how to stay beautiful: Like I said before, sleeping well is a must. It makes you glow inside and out. When your skin is feeling fresh there is no need to wear a lot of makeup. I make sure my nails and hair are always looking groomed, as that makes me feel clean and ready at all times.
My most embarrassing at-work moment: Nothing sticks out in particular. I'm sure things have not gone accordingly at times, but it's only fashion so it can easily be covered up with a smile and a joke. One can't take oneself too seriously.
If I wasn't a model, I would be: Into theatre and dance -- it would have to be the performing arts! It's what I studied, so the passion still lives within me.
Photographs: Courtesy Anima Creatives
'Living on my own, I have learnt to tackle most things'
My advice to youngsters looking to get into the glamour industry: Finish studying! This industry is unreliable and unpredictable, so it's important to finish school. If you choose to go down this path, you have to be strong-minded and confident in your own skin, without being arrogant of course. You have to be prepared for rejection, which is never nice, but you must believe in what's meant to be. Do the best you can and if that's not good enough, then so be it. Move on with your head held high! Lastly, treat others how you want to be treated. No matter how successful you may get, you must remember no one is above or below you.
Chores I work on in my spare time: Re-arranging my wardrobe! I'm always clearing out old or neglected items to give to charity. I sometimes invite my friends over for dinner and they can choose what they like. I love passing on clothes and giving them a new life.
Chores that put me off: My accounts! I used to enjoy math at school, but I have to pass this one to my accountant. Not fun at all.
My biggest quirk: Dunking my jalebis in my chai. Has to be done!
My cooking skills: I love to cook, especially for others. I can make a three-course meal out of practically nothing. That's my speciality. Just takes a bit of thought!
My phobia: I'm not a fan of most insects, but I try not let it beat me. Living on my own I have learnt to tackle most things because I have no choice!
Photographs: Courtesy Anima Creatives
My favourite cuisine: Punjabi
My favourite drink: Carrot, apple and ginger juice
I love hanging out at: My London apartment by the river
The most frequently played song on my iPod: N.E.R.D.
Best movie of all time: The Notebook
Favourite book: The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle
My preferred travel destination: The Maldives
Makeup I can't live without: Elizabeth Arden eight-hour cream
My biggest indulgence: Bags and watches
My biggest challenge: Learning Hindi and French
My idea of a perfect day: A walk by the river and lunch on a boat
My passion: To dance
Things that turn me on in a man: A good listener who pays attention to detail.
Biggest turn-offs: Bad manners
I can't leave home without: My Ray Bans
In my spare time, I enjoy: Cooking and entertaining friends and family.
My future plans: Who knows! My journey and path could change tomorrow. But I do intend to live life to its fullest. To have a go at everything that comes my way. It all happens for a reason, so I never turn a blind eye. You never know what it could lead to.
Photographs: Courtesy Anima Creatives