I had the special opportunity to interview Tao Okamoto the other day for a freelance assignment. At first, when the person called me to do this the name didn’t register, but when I started to prepare for the interview I realized “DUH, TAO OKAMOTO!”
She’s the established Japanese model who you’ve probably seen gracing countless runways, covers of Vogue, editorials and ad campaigns. Many of you might know of the “bowl” hair cut she sported towards the beginning of her career.
I have been studying fashion for about four years now, so I’ve been involved in the industry and have had the opportunity to meet my share of models. I’ve worked with them, talked to them, I’ve even dressed them backstage for shows. Needless to say, I’ve come across all types- mean, friendly, cranky, you name it. It’s been awhile since I have met a model (I’ve been doing other things as you probably noticed on my instagram) so I didn’t quite know what to expect with Tao. Regardless, I was looking forward to it and even a bit nervous!
A few years ago, the thought of working with and meeting models would’ve intimidated me, but with Tao, it was different. I was excited to have a real conversation about her hopes, fears, dreams and was especially looking forward to hearing about her acting debut where she appears alongside Hugh Jackman (as his love interest no big deal) in the upcoming Wolverine (click here to view trailer). In a way, it gave me comfort knowing she too, forayed into unfamiliar territory similar to how I will be graduating and entering the real world.
I arrived at the location of the photoshoot to see that the process had already begun. It was amazing seeing Tao in action, dressed simply in all white doing her thing in front of the camera, while photographer Seiji Fujimori snapped away. She was flipping her hair back and forth to achieve the idea Seiji sketched out here:
Obviously this is just a rough sketch but I got to see it all happen and trust me- the results were absolutely beautiful. It was incredible watching him capture her energy and personality so effortlessly. When you have a great team to work with it is that much easier but I’ve learned that, in fashion especially, the things that look simple are usually some of the most difficult things. (For example, a fashion show looks like nothing but it takes months and dozens of people to prepare).
Out of all the photoshoots, shows, etc I’ve witnessed in my college career, this was by far the most relaxed and comfortable, which helped once Tao and I sat down to start the interview. She was (willing and) able to answer some very personal questions in a very candid yet thoughtful way so I really give her credit for that; her warmth and honesty was very refreshing. I mean, could you answer, “What is something you could tell your 21 year old self,” on the spot? There were moments when I forgot I was talking to Tao and it just felt like a casual converesation about life.
Now I can’t tell you everything we talked about in our interview (you’ll have to wait for my article on that), but I can say Tao is one of the nicest models I have met and she deserves every bit of success she has achieved so far. She is truly beautiful inside and out. I’m looking forward to her silver screen debut this July (a couple of days after my birthday actually) and am excited to see what she works on next!
And even after finishing a 40 minute long interview, she was willing to answer one more question:
“What’s one piece of advice you can give that applies to both business and life?”
Without hesitation she gave me the shortest answer I had ever gotten.
Sometimes, it’s as simple as that.
Very excited to write the piece and share her story. As for the photos from the shoot… you and I will both have to wait and see!
In the meantime, watch the Wolverine Trailer here
“ The meaning of life is just to be alive. It is so plain and so obvious and so simple. And yet, everybody rushes around in a great panic as if it were necessary to achieve something beyond themselves. “-by Alan Watt”
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