Singer and Model
Connie Chiu was born in Hong Kong. The fourth child in a Chinese family, she is the only one born with albinism. Connie and her family moved to Sweden where she grew up studying arts and journalism.
At the age of 24, she started her fashion modelling career by working with the French designer Jean-Paul Gaultier. Now, Connie juggles modelling with her singing career; as a jazz singer she is invited to perform at major events, jazz clubs.
Meet Connie Chiu
Finding a Role Model
“Little sister! Guess who we saw on our way home from school today?!”
Their faces were beaming, excited smiles from ear to ear. My three older sisters were still in their school uniforms.
“Who?” Most likely a famous actor, I thought to myself.
“‘We saw a girl who looked just like you! Well, she’s a grown up, but with white hair and fair skin just like you! And she was so tall and slim!”
For many years I thought that I had no role model. But now when I recall this moment in my childhood, it probably had a bigger impact on me than I ever realised. From my sisters’ reactions I got the impression that this Chinese woman with albinism that they happened to see was attractive, confident and independent.
Well, the whole growing up into a tall woman didn’t happen! But I think this stranger, this Chinese woman with albinism who I never actually met, brushed by my life and gave me an idea of what kind of life, and what sort of person I could be. Back then I was a skinny girl squinting in the blazing Hong Kong sun, slowly but surely realising that people were not always kind and life could be hard.
Now, I have so many things in my life to be happy about and grateful for; my lovely family, my amazing friends, great teachers who inspired me, and also support provided by government policies to give me, and others with certain limitations, equal opportunities for education, work and an independent life.
If I only get to say one thing to a child or young person with albinism, it would be “Believe in yourself.” Life is not always easy, and it’s OK to make mistakes – as long as you learn from them. At the end of the day you are the best person to find out what you can do and how far you can go. Appreciate people who help you, and surround yourself with good people who see and love you for the person you are, for all that you are.
When I was a young child I was like a cartoon with a catch phrase; I kept asking “Why?” I haven’t grown out of questioning the world, people and why people choose to behave the way they do. Now a bit older, hopefully slightly wiser, my catch phrases include “What if…” and “Imagine…”
Now, what’s your catch phrase?