Hawaiian born and raised, Azhjeli Matthews is a model, actor and silk performance artist.
His family heritage embodies multiple ancestral backgrounds including Hawaiian, Spanish, Italian, Chinese, Japanese, Caucasian & Visayan blood.
He took the time to speak to DiverseModels.com about his experiences of being a multi-racial model.
This is his story:
Name: Azhjeli Caleb Akemi Kalani Cenido a.k.a. Azhjeli Matthews
Weight: 160 lbs
Shoe size: 10 – 10.5
Waist: 30″ (hips: 33″ — I sag all my pants because I have a short torso)
Eye colour: Brown
Hair colour: Black
Family heritage: Spanish, Italian, Chinese, Japaneese, Visayan, Hawaiian, Caucasian
Place of birth: Honolulu, Hawaii
Currently residing in: Hawaii
Represented by: ADR Agency (not much work from them)
On what working basis do you model?: Part time / freelance
How long have you been modeling?: Been trying to hit mainstream since I was 18
I’ve done various runway shows and photo shoots. But it’s hard to get runway because of my height. The ones I’ve done was in relation to people seeing my walk on the stage. I wish I could get more, but being Asian, the height restricts me a lot.
The pure entertainment and being able to walk the runway is the part I love the most. I come from performing arts background in doing plays and musicals. The excitement of being on stage and entertaining a crowd brings me the most joy. I guess being the youngest of 5 children, I was always the one making things happen and having to please people. But in the end, the fact that people can relate to the character I’m playing or want the clothes I’m modeling on the runway or in editorials is the best self rewarding experience.
I entered a modeling competition my junior year in high school with V Talent & Model Management. I didn’t want to at first, but everyone told me. I was the last and late entry, but I was chosen 1 of 12 amongst 24 contestants. We performed at various places State wide and did runway at various places including high schools. I fell in love with it since!!!
No matter what runway it is, I always get the same nervous and exciting feeling. I do remember auditioning for the main role in an ACM Film for a student at UH Manoa, it was entitled, “BEAUTY BRAWL”. I snagged the main role out of 50 plus people that auditioned for it. It was so awesome to get to know what filming was like. Completely different from live stage performing, but just as fun. Beauty Brawl played in the film festivals here in Hawaii and in Shanghai. It won some awards as well.
The lowlight I’d have to say is having a drought in my career and not being able to be on stage and feeling so low when I try to get international representation from various agencies I emailed in Asia. People tell me I have a look for Indonesia and Asia, but no agencies have returned an email. Rejection is part of it, so sometimes you just have to get passed it and hope for greater things to come.
I feel that being diverse, you don’t have one look. Sometimes agencies don’t get to see the various looks diverse people can bring to the table and I strongly feel that is way overlooked. We are in a new world and the blonde hair/blue eyes will always be a trend, but how about we break from that and showcase that Asians and multi-ethnic people have what it takes. Another thing I dislike is the height restriction on runway. Yes, someone may be 5’10” but sometimes that person may meet the fitting of the clothing because of longer legs/arms/limbs/etc. I wish people would look more into multi-ethnic models. Hawaii is overlooked majorly, there is so much talent and so many beautiful people. I wish the world could see!!! By the way, this includes me, ha ha.
My work out regime consists of cardio twice a week, I used to do it a whole lot more, but I wasn’t getting the bulk I wanted. Now I am… I don’t go by working out a certain muscle on a certain day. I work out according to body parts. Example, day one: arms… day two: chest… day three: shoulders & triceps… day four: back & legs. Then I rest for 1 or 2 days and do it again. Sometimes I’ll take a week break just so that my body and heal and grow in muscle definition. I try to not eat rice or too much starch… if I do, it’s brown rice and I try not to eat starch passed 7pm.
I love various things including the beach, gym, movies, dinners, lunches, hanging with my family, hanging with my friends, hiking, TRAVELING. I’ll try anything as long as I don’t die. LOL… life is a precious thing!
I would love to be represented by a top agency and get to walk the runways and be on the magazines of all the tall blonde haired and blue eyed models. I want to represent the diverse multi-ethnic cultures I am and give hope to other that there are chances for us. Even if there are some characteristics not met by the standard (i.e. height) we can still overcome and achieve greatness and success. I also believe in being a positive role model, not just to my peers, but to people of all ages. You can learn something new everyday and I look at life as one big ever so changing circle. Continuous, but never the same shape. Brings me to one of my favorite quotes: “The only constant in life is change!”
Do you see yourself continuing to model in the next 5-10 years?: Yes, being multi-ethnic and from Hawaii as well as being multi-Asian… the skin stays younger and we can play younger roles and appear to look younger on stage, on runway, on film, etc.
Do you any words of advice for new upcoming, aspiring models from diverse backgrounds?: No matter what the answer is… keep striving even higher. If you get a negative note, prove them wrong about you and go beyond anyone’s expectations. Lastly, be ready to battle, because the modeling/acting/dancing/entertaining world is massive with competition.