Making a Splash
updated 05/01/2000 AT 01:00 AM EDT
•originally published 05/01/2000 AT 01:00 AM EDT
One of four children, My Uyen was born in Saigon, where her father, Ngo Cong Quyen, managed a hotel and casino. It closed just before the war ended, and the family moved south, where they planted trees and rice. "Everyone looks at me and says, 'She's a model,' " says My Uyen, "but I worked in the fields too."
In 1980, when her father was sent to reeducation camp for trying to escape the country by boat (the family had stayed behind), My Uyen's mother, Hoang Lan Huong, opened a dress shop to make ends meet. Now My Uyen, who lives with her parents and two sisters in a five-bedroom house in Ho Chi Minh City, pays many of the bills. While most Vietnamese models earn about $400 a month, she gets up to $7,000 for two or three days' work. Though "going to the U.S. and being an actress would be great," she says, there is one caveat—Hollywood would have to feed her first. Says My Uyen: "I can't do a romantic or crying scene when I'm hungry."