LOS ANGELES, CA (FOX 11) - In the world of fashion Mimi Tao is an "it" girl. She is a transgender model from Thailand who hit the U-S fashion scene just last year. But here's where her story really takes a turn. Tao grew up training to be a Buddhist Monk.
After leaving the temple Tao took up modeling. She was 17 years old. It was as a boy at the temple that Tao started toying with what make-up she had access to, powder. She one day broke the news to her mother that she identified as transgender and wanted to be a model. "My mom used to say, if you choose this way, you are no longer my son." Tao was determined to make her mom proud.
Tao is now signed with industry leader Slay Model Management in Los Angeles, an all trans agency. Founder Cecilio Asuncion says Tao has that "it" factor on the outside and a balance and focus on the inside.
The Lalalove line loved her look and story and booked her for October's LA Fashion Week. In September at New York's Fashion Week Tao booked 24 runway shows.
Model coordinator Ivan Arce says "her walk is something amazing. Your eyes are just focused on her."
With every opportunity also came a lot of rejection, because she is trans. Tao says she'd get hired "cause they don't know who I am, and then they cancel."
L.A. and N.Y. casting director D'Jesus Trujillo has booked Tao for Style Fashion Week show. He says "as a gay guy, proud to be a gay person, it's hard to open doors, but the more you are knocking and knocking it's gonna break."
Mimi's mission is for the world to one day walk away from labels. "Think, we are model. Not put trans, not put male or female. Just model." In the future, the 25 year old would like to be an actress.
The following photographers granted usage of their photos in this story:
Victor Cantey-VCVisions, Mark Gunter-Mark G Photography, Specular Photography, Zain Ali Shah, Alexandra Pro Photos, Beautiful Jazzy Photography, Joe Garcia, Patchon Jankong, Louie Herman, Oxford Studio, Bob Delgadillo, Manny Llanura.