Acclaimed Vietnamese model and actress Yu Duong shares the evolution of her career and aspirations for the future.
Born and raised in the bustling Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, Yu Duong has left audiences around the world captivated. Whether it be in her still images that somehow coalesce high fashion and the everyday behind a mischievous smile or entrancing audiences as an actress in immensely popular films such as Tia Tui La Cao Thu or Loi Nguyen Huyen Ngai, Yu has undoubtedly made a name for herself.
What is it that keeps us so entranced and her follower count growing? It is her embodiment of an artistic spirit she has inherited, not only from her own family but from the vibrancy of Vietnam itself. Yu has channeled her insatiable desire to discover new cultures, explore new parts of the world, and create evocative performances into a skyrocketing career as a model and actress
To understand Yu Duong and her philosophy towards artistic creations, we need to understand that this world we share is full of dichotomies. Yes, there are the normal juxtapositions of light and dark, good and evil, night and day. But for Yu, her career, her persona, and her aesthetic balances a seemingly endless series of more nuanced and subtle dualities. There is her work that combines the intimate with the bold and those that contras the earthly with the spiritual. Her images toy between the digital and the analog. And even her overarching practice is one that teeters between the still and moving image. She is a Vietnamese artist who is channeling the cultural lineage of amalgamated cultures that transcend time, a reconciliation of regional and foreign, traditional and contemporary.
TM: To get us started, can you tell us about your journey? What made you want to enter the world of modeling?
YD: I am a child from a family of artists. I still remember everyone asking me, “Will you be an actress?”, “Do you like to be a model?”. I guess it is really something that stuck in my head as a child with no doubt or awareness. As I grew up, I discovered it is not always like that little girl’s dream, but still, I’m in love with the job.
TM: When viewing your body of work, we often see a balance between the intimate and private with the bold and public. In the works where we see you out amongst the cityscape, what kind of inspiration do you draw from the cities and countries where you shoot?
YD: I love to travel, but I have only been to Southeast Asian countries. So most of the inspiration I have is from Asian culture with colorful cities, warm weather, friendly people, and lots of random tiny cool things. Hopefully, I will be able to explore more in the future. I can’t wait to see all the other parts of the world.
TM: Diving deeper into your own experiences as a model, actress, and artist based in Vietnam, can you share with our readers what is it about the Vietnamese arts scene that makes it distinct and unlike others around the world?
YD: We had a long and rich history with some main turning points. We have also been influenced by other foreign countries, so it is a mix of cultures through time. We are living a modern life nowadays, but you still can see that the traditional art is blending with the modern in our artwork. This is what makes the Vietnamese arts scene distinct.
TM: With all of these accomplishments within your body of work, what project has been your favorite and why?
YD: It is a Thriller/Mystery movie titled “Darkness”. The project began as a series but for some reason, it was turned into a movie. The story is about a spiritual journey of a girl, who is trying to find the answers to her mother’s disappearance. I’m always curious about the spiritual world and I love to work on projects like that.
TM: You have also gained fame with your recent film projects. What role do you feel that acting and film will play in your career moving forward?
YD: I’m trying to do modeling as well, but mostly my work is acting in movies and series. I love doing both of them. Now I’m looking for chances to expand my work, not just in Vietnam but in any other country.
New Worlds, New Frontiers
Expanding, she is. On a quest to explore the world, Yu Duong has already taken steps in forging connections to help take her career to new corners of our world. She recently teamed up with Tainted Magazine’s very own Castro Frank on a photography collaboration while in Vietnam. Los Angeles aesthetics meet the Vietnamese dynamism Yu embodies in a series of portraits shot on film. From moody interiors to dramatic displays of Ho Chi Minh City, we witness how her international partnerships and projects share the many faces of Yu.
TM: You recently connected with Tainted Magazine through your collaboration with Los Angeles photographer Castro Frank, can you tell us more about how you two ended up working together?
YD: I’m so glad and thankful that I got a chance to know and work with Castro Frank. We know each other through Instagram from when I saw his work and was impressed by his colorful and beautiful feed. The internet is an awesome place. You could meet someone who lives on the other side of the world, connect with them, and finally do something cool together.
TM: Would you also be able to share some details about this project with Castro Frank and the collaborative experience?
YD: Unfortunately, we didn’t have much time due to our tight schedule. So we decided to do some indoor portraits and rooftop shooting since we both love the rooftop so much. It was a fun experience working with Castro Frank and we are looking forward to collaborating in the future on new interesting projects.
TM: Looking to the future, what is next for Yu Duong? Are there any new avenues in your career you are eager to explore?
YD: My life is changing. I will have to move to another country in a few years. I’m very excited about it, even though I know it will be hard for me to keep working as an actress/model outside of Vietnam, but I have to try. Now I’m learning more art skills and also languages to prepare for it. I can’t wait to go out and see the world.
As Yu Duong steps into the unknown, taking her career to unexpected places, with unfamiliar cultures, and unforeseeable artistic opportunities, there is one thing that is certain. She will embrace the lessons instilled by her time immersed in the Vietnamese art scene that has been her home, and use her performative practice to unearth new harmonies from across the globe.