Thai model turned actress Tia Tavee makes TV debut

Thai actress Tia Tavee, who was in reality TV series Asia's Next Top Model, makes her acting debut in HBO Asia's Halfworlds

Tia Tavee

Thai model-turned-actress Tia Tavee's stint on reality television series Asia's Next Top Model may have helped open doors for her, but she has nothing good to say about her experience on the show.

Describing it as a "roller-coaster ride", Tia, who was on the show's second season in 2013, says that if she had taken part now, it would have "psychologically broken" her.

"When I go back and watch it now, I realise how fabricated the show was," the 20-year-old tells The Straits Times in a telephone interview from Bangkok. "They tried to compromise my character to make for an interesting storyline and drama."

She finished eighth in the show. Despite her disdain, her appearance in the show helped boost her profile, landing her modelling gigs and small acting jobs.

She is making her acting debut in the second season of HBO Asia's Halfworlds, which depicts a secret universe populated by supernatural creatures. The season premieres tomorrow on StarHub TV Channel 601.

When I go back and watch it now, I realise how fabricated the show was. They tried to compromise my character to make for an interesting storyline and drama.

THAI ACTRESS TIA TAVEE on her stint on reality television series Asia's Next Top Model in 2013

"It's been fun. I'm a Twilight fan, so it kind of tracks down the same lane," Tia says with a laugh, referring to the popular book series by Stephenie Meyer that was turned into a hit Hollywood film franchise.

Like Twilight, Halfworlds features mythical creatures and forbidden romances. Tia's character is a mortal researcher who investigates demons in Bangkok and attracts the attention of one played by Thai actor Peem Jaiyen, who develops feelings for her.

Other Thai mythical creatures make their appearances in the series, including a Krasue, a vengeful female spirit that manifests as a floating head with her entrails hanging out.

While she enjoys fantasy, Tia says that she is, for the most part, not superstitious.

"It's quite interesting. Most of the time, I don't believe in it, but there are some things that you just can't explain," she says.

"Even on set apparently, there were people who saw ghosts and I was a bit scared," she adds, recalling an incident where members of the cast saw an unknown face while filming in an abandoned building.

The youngest of four children born to a South African mother and a Thai-Chinese father, Tia was first cast into the spotlight when she won the Miss Teen Thailand beauty pageant five years ago.

Describing the pageant as her "golden ticket" to the entertainment industry, Tia says she has been interested in acting since she was a child.

"I was never confident and never realised how good-looking I was, so winning the pageant was mostly a confidence boost for me," she adds.

Then came Asia's Next Top Model. After that, she went into modelling, which she says is a stepping stone for actors to the Thai acting industry.

After starring in several commercials and other unaired pilot series, Tia got her big acting break when a fellow actor, whom she had met at an audition, recommended her to the production team at Halfworlds.

The statuesque actress does not dismiss the possibility of returning to modelling, saying that she could not choose between that and acting. "I love art, so if I'm approached to model for artistic photos, I would love to do that too."

•Halfworlds premieres tomorrow on HBO (StarHub TV Channel 601) with double episodes at 9pm.

Correction note: This story has been edited to correct reference to the actress. We apologise for the error.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 21, 2017, with the headline 'Halfworlds apart'. Print Edition | Subscribe