Devon Aoki, co-star of the "D.E.B.S." Movie!
An exotic beauty of Japanese, German and English descent, Devon is currently the face of "Chanel" modeling agency. Born in the Big Apple but raised in California, Devon is no stranger to the lifestyles of the rich and famous. Her father is Rocky Aoki (owner of Benihana Restaurants) and her mother is Pamela Hilberger. She started modeling when she was 13, and that same year her godmother introduced her to modeling legend Kate Moss. Her movie credits include 2003's "2 Fast 2 Furious." Devon Aoki is the frontwoman of the new fashion wave that appreciates women of various ethnicities. Born August 10th, 1982, Devon Edwenna Aoki is the daughter of Japanese Olympic wrestler and Benihana steakhouse magnate Rocky Aoki and Anglo-Bavarian jewelry designer Pamela Hilburger. A New York native, she grew up in the swank 'burbs of Malibu, only to move back to her hometown in her early teens. It is rumored that she was discovered at a Rancid concert in NYC, where she gate-crashed. She was 13 when her godmother introduced her to Kate Moss, who later took Aoki as her apprentice. At 14, she moved to London with her mother, divorced from Rocky Aoki, and her siblings. There she joined Storm Model Management, which also represented her mentor Moss. Says Aoki of Kate, "It was cool because when I got to know Kate, I realized that she was not only incredibly beautiful, but smart, too." Both women soon appeared together on the cover of Interview magazine. Aoki spent most of her adolescence juggling modeling and school, always giving equal attention to both. Some of the high-profile designers on her resume include Chanel, Thierry Mugler, Balenciaga, Fendi, Jean Paul Gaultier, and Givenchy. She was also featured in ad campaigns for Chanel Couture by Karl Lagerfeld, Versace Atelier by Steven Meisel, and Junko Shimada by Bettina Kimenda.
In 1998, the 5'6" model replaced Naomi Campbell as the face of Versace, after an alleged dispute between Campbell and Donatella Versace. Her most recent modeling contract is with Lancome, where she joins the ranks of beautiful women like Mena Suvari, Elizabeth Jagger and Uma Thurman.
Aoki just recently forayed onto the big screen, starring in two films and working on her third. 2003's Death of a Dynasty, her first movie, was a musical-comedy about the hip-hop industry and was directed by rap mogul Damon Dash. That same year she played Suki, a speed-loving babe in 2 Fast 2 Furious, the sequel to the successful The Fast and the Furious. Not knowing how to drive, she received her first lessons from a stunt driver for the role. She will next be seen as Dominique in D.E.B.S., a spy flick slated for 2004 and co-starring Jordana Brewster.
But she won't stop there. Aoki plans on launching her own clothing line, and has signed on to New York entrepreneur Richie Akiva's record label, where she will cut her own album, a move no doubt inspired by her rocker ex-boyfriend Lenny Kravitz. Having recently joined L.A.'s ICM for representation and The Firm for management (which manages the likes of J.Lo and Adrien Brody), Devon Aoki will only get bigger, and her face will become more recognized and endeared by the public. Devon now lives on her own, and keeps her personal life private (for the most part...). No word has leaked of boyfriends since Kravitz, but she is often seen alongside major hip-hop and Hollywood men at high-profile social functions and movie premieres.
"I think it's important that there is a change, especially in fashion. I'm pleased to be a part of a 'new breed' of models who perhaps don't exactly fit the status quo."
Devon Aoki: Model, Killer, Super Spy
Devon Aoki has only four movies to her name -- so far. Yet, the model-turned-actress has played a hipster in "Death of a Dynasty," a race car driver in "2 Fast 2 Furious" and coming up she's a snarky super-spy in a short skirt in "D.E.B.S." and a brutal killer who chops up Oscar winner Benicio Del Toro in "Sin City."
"It was scary fun," she says about playing the assassin in "Sin City," demonstrating how she would wildly swing the same sword that Uma Thurman used in "Kill Bill." "I'd be doing these scenes with Benicio, and he's like, 'Does she have to do this with me sitting here?'"
But first, audiences will get to see the exotic model in a stylish teen action comedy, "D.E.B.S." about a school of top secret girl agents who seek to bring down an international master criminal. Aoki plays a bratty chain-smoking French girl named Dominique. Director Angela Robinson says actual French models came in to audition for the part, but Aoki nailed it right away, mangled accent and all.
"Devon came in and had the crazy accent and she was genius," says the director, who's now doing "The Love Bug" Disney remake "Herbie, Fully Loaded" with Lindsay Lohan. She also cast Meagan Good, Jordana Brewster, Jill Ritchie and Aoki's former classmate Sara Foster in the film.
"I knew these girls before, we had existing friendships, so it was a lot of fun," Aoki says. "And there were no cat fights."
She went to prep school with co-star Sara Foster when they were 12 and 13 years old. She was familiar with plaid skirts and uniforms.
"It was reminiscent of my days at a prep school, where I went to school with Sara for a year," says Aoki, rolling her eyes. "They had uniforms just like that, and so I can remember always sort of rolling my skirt up, trying to get it shorter, because you know, you try to sort of jazz up the school uniforms because they're pretty boring."
That's before Aoki's family moved to London. Her father is Rocky Aoki, owner of Benihana's Japanese Restaurants and her godmother is supermodel Kate Moss. With Japanese, German and British ancestry, Aoki's exotic looks landed her as a Chanel model.
Modeling since 13, Aoki's big break was in John Singleton's street racing sequel "2 Fast 2 Furious," but she didn't know how to drive and was taught by stunt drivers.
She faced even more challenges in "Sin City," the graphic novel-turned-film by co-directors Frank Miller and Robert Rodriguez. They put her in scenes with no sets, just green backgrounds with details added in later by computer.
"That was very different," Aoki says about the film which also stars Bruce Willis, Elijah Wood, Jessica Alba, Rosario Dawson and many others.
"You basically go into the same set every day, the same stage, and you're surrounded by this bright green color, and it could be sort of difficult to imagine the things that will be surrounding you once the movie's up on the screen," she explains. "But it was sort of seamless and really enjoyable, and you're working with actors who are brilliant, so you start to sort of believe the scene material and stuff."
Next up, she's working with Jackie Chan's former director Corey Yuen in China on "D.O.A." "I actually leave for there in about a month, and I'm going to be there for about three months," she says about the movie based on a video game. "There's even more action in that one. I'm going to do five hours of training a day."
Like all Chinese action films, that will require some wire work, too. "It's going to be very physical and I'm looking forward to that," she smiles.
Aoki says she's feeling more comfortable as an actress. It was her idea to incorporate the broken Franglish in her "D.E.B.S." character and says, "It was great to play like a character that obviously spoke with sort of an accent, but for me as an actor, it was a challenge."
Even more of a challenge, however, was her short skirts in "D.E.B.S." and how she always bundled herself up with big robes because she was cold.
"Devon was funny because she'd be in a little corner with both her feet completely up, tucked into a little ball, rolling back and forth, waiting to shoot," says co-star Meagan Good. "I was like, 'How did you get in that position?' And she'd be totally cool just waiting for the next shot."
Aoki and the "D.E.B.S." open in theaters on Friday, March 25.
D.E.B.S. IS AN ALL-GIRL CRIME-FIGHTING SPOOF WITH A LESBIAN TWIST. STACY FARRAR SPEAKS TO DIRECTOR ANGELA ROBINSON.
Angela Robinson is living every budding filmmaker’s dream. A couple of years ago she received a small grant from a women’s film collective to make a short all-girl crime-fighting team spoof with a lesbian twist, which led to a $5m contract with Sony to turn the short into a feature. That feature, D.E.B.S., inspired Walt Disney studios to contract Robinson to direct the $50m Herbie: Fully Loaded, a Lindsay Lohan and Matt Dillon feature due for Australian release in July.
If it sounds like a fairytale, take a moment to consider the quality of D.E.B.S. It’s slick, it has quality actors doing quality acting and it is genuinely funny. Robinson even manages to buy some stunts and good sets with her meagre (for Hollywood) budget.
It’s also the perfect film for queer Charlie’s Angels fans because, as Robinson says, it brings the lesbian subtext so often seen in girls-go-wild movies onto centre stage.
“I totally do that,” she says. “It brings it to the forefront.”
“I really love girl-power action movies but I always wanted the girls to get together with each other as opposed to with the guys. I decided to write my own because I didn’t see it happening in already existing films.”
D.E.B.S. (the letters stand for Discipline Energy Beauty Strength) tells the story of four high school girls who are chosen through a special section of the SAT exam to attend an elite crime-fighting academy.
The four checked skirt-wearing crime-fighting machines are Amy (Sara Foster), Max (Meagan Good), Dominique (Devon Aoki) and Janet (Jill Ritchie). All four have special skills and weaknesses. Amy is perfect but not sure about whether she wants to be an agent, Max is feisty but jealous, Dominique is a beautiful chain-smoking promiscuous French girl and Janet is sweet but dumb.
Their nemesis is young lesbian crime-lord Lucy Diamond (Jordana Brewster of The Fast And The Furious fame). The four D.E.B.S. are assigned to Diamond’s case but things go awry when Amy falls in love with her hot, evil enemy.
Robinson’s 2003 short film version of D.E.B.S. was funded by Power Up, a non-profit organisation made up of gay and straight women who offer financial support for other women in entertainment.
Sony backed the feature on the strength of the short film and feature script, and Robinson was able to assemble a great cast of up-and-coming actors – for example Devon Aoki, the former catwalk model who appeared in 2 Fast 2 Furious – and seasoned professionals like Holland Taylor, who plays the D.E.B.S. Academy headmistress.
“We had a barrage of great people who wanted to be on the project,” Robinson said.
“It was cool because a lot of actresses really responded to the material and thought the parts were lots of fun.”
The film has screened at Sundance Film Festival and the Berlinale in Berlin. It is also scheduled for cinema release in the US in March, which Robinson – who is currently in post-production of Herbie: Fully Loaded – is very excited about.
“I’m really psyched about it. It was a big labour of love and I’m really happy with how it turned out. I can’t wait for it to hit theatres and for big audiences to see it.”
D.E.B.S. screens as part of the Mardi Gras Film Festival on Saturday 26 February from 7:30pm at the Palace Academy Twin Cinema, Oxford St, Paddington. The Festival runs until Thursday 3 March.
Sin City official website launched
The official website for the highly-anticipated Sin City, from co-writers and co-directors Robert Rodriguez and Frank Miller, is currently online! The site includes character information (with short clips), movie info, new photos, desktops, games, the trailer and much more.
The movie, which is set to hit theatres on April 1 in the US is based on the series of graphic novels created, written and illustrated by Miller. The film incorporates storylines from three of Miller’s novels: ‘Sin City’, ‘That Yellow Bastard’ and ‘The Big Fat Kill’.
The star-studded cast of Sin City consists of Bruce Willis who plays Hartigan a cop with a bum ticker and a vow to protect stripper Nancy (Jessica Alba); Mickey Rourke as Marv the outcast misanthrope on a mission to avenge the death of his one true love, Goldie (Jaime King); Clive Owen is Dwight – the clandestine love of Shelley (Brittany Murphy) – who spends his nights defending Gail (Rosario Dawson) and her Old Towne girls (Devon Aoki and Alexis Bledel) from Jackie Boy (Benicio Del Toro) a dirty cop with a penchant for violence.
But now that you can see what's going on, you may not want to. The ninja character played by Devon Aoki is very clearly seen throwing a weapon in the shape of a swastika, the Nazi symbol that packs a far greater punch than a comic-book movie ought to.
Given the uproar over the recent Prince Harry swastika stupidity, and the talk of a Europe-wide banning of the symbol, you have to wonder if Miramax shouldn't think of Photoshopping out the offending image and replacing it with something else. Is there time for a quick fix before April Fool's Day?
Devon Aoki: Knife Work
NOT content with being one of the hottest models on the international scene, Devon Aoki is now attempting to storm the movie charts. The New York-born catwalker first hit the silver screen as a hotpant-clad racer chick in 2 Fast 2 Furious and now she's hit the big time - sharing camera time with the likes of Benicio del Toro, Bruce Willis and Josh Hartnett in the forthcoming Sin City. And the 22-year-old model isn't afraid to suffer for her craft. "[I] had the swordplay scenes and Benicio the gunfighting scenes," Aoki told PAGESIX.COM. "Benicio uses the method. Like not checking the gun barrel beforehand because he's so into the zone. My mom and I rehearsed my swordswomanship in our hotel room and I got nicked with the end of a samurai sword. It was made of wood but still it cut. I had tons of bruises."
Devon Aoki: The beauty of contasts
At only 16, Devon exploded onto the fashion scene, replacing Naomi Campbell as the Versace muse. Five years later, she's still going strong on the catwalk and has ventured into movies and, soon, music.
Before starring as Suki in the car-racing movie 2 Fast 2 Furious, she modeled for big names like Chanel, Fendi and Givenchy. She is currently the face of Lancome, alongside Mena Suvari and Elizabeth Jagger. Devon Aoki is show business' newest Jackie of all Trades. Like Jennifer Lopez, she has a hand in fashion, acting and singing.
To begin with, Aoki is royalty in her own right as heiress to the Benihana Japanese steakhouse chain. But she didn't see her well-to-do pedigree as a reason to lounge through life in the lap of luxury. She knew that hard work was necessary in order to earn a glamorous lifestyle.
Devon Aoki's beginnings in fashion were sudden and huge. Her unique features and photogenic face were instantly coveted by all designers since the age of 16, and continue to be today. As Lancome's newest face, her fashion gigs are only getting more impressive.
Aoki is one among a new breed of celebrity children who were catapulted into adulthood, and she seems to be handling it well. Both her parents support her endeavors and are proud of her, making it known that they raised her to be an upstanding and well-adjusted young lady.
While her acting career has been slim so far, it is merely the beginning. She has already starred in a huge production, 2 Fast 2 Furious, and is slated to appear in more films of similar magnitude. She will, undoubtedly, be Hollywood's next goddess. If that doesn't pan out, she's always got the catwalk.
Devon Aoki is quick to shatter the stereotype of models as empty-headed bimbos. Studious and thoughtful, her favorite writers include Emerson, Thoreau, Nietzsche, and Camus. Also politically inclined, she relishes a debate, often alluding to the political theories of Edward Said and William F. Buckley Jr. And when she heard that one of her fans tattooed her face on his arm, she couldn't have been more flattered.
That she has so many big-name designers on her resume is a testament to her prowess as a model. Her catwalk strut is graceful and smooth, as if she was born to do it. Her signature look -- that of the hurt seductress -- is plastered on billboards nationwide, and it never gets old. Unlike other model-turned-actresses before her time, Aoki made the transition quite well, actually showing an aptitude for creativity. Whether she can do the same with singing is yet to be seen.
Aoki has redefined sexiness in the fashion world. She is short (a rarity for the runway) and petite, her curves concentrated on her hips and waist. She admits to being an unusual choice for a fashion model, but her uniqueness only adds to her sexiness.
She knows how to pose for a camera, always looking provocative and pensive. Blend that with fast cars, and we've got a dream woman. Her appearance in Transworld Stance magazine, where she posed with a BMW AC Schnitzer M3, is a manifestation of that dream. And when she's made up as a geisha, there is not a sane man who doesn't wish he were a Japanese lord.
At only 21 years of age, Devon Aoki has accomplished a lot. This lovely wunderkind has left a revolutionary footprint in the world of fashion, being among the first ethnic models in an industry obsessed with the standard white American face. She also ushered a new wave of body types, previously regarded as too short, but now very en vogue.
Her credentials are nothing short of impressive. Aoki modeled for Chanel, Versace, Fendi, Jean Paul Gaultier, and is currently a model for Lancome, and she starred in three movies (so far), including the box-office hit 2 Fast 2 Furious. If that's not enough, Aoki will soon release an album, firmly making her a triple threat.
With a face like Aoki's, it's no surprise that she was stamped on over 20 magazine covers, including Vogue, Elle Girl, i-D, and Nylon. She has several websites devoted to her, and a huge fan listing, which we expect will grow even more. Such a melange of races could only produce a creature as exquisite as Devon. Her sad, mysterious eyes, fleshy lips and speckled ski-slope nose give her an intoxicating look. Really, it is hard to stop looking at her.
Topping her already exotic features is her light brown hair, which while unexpected, fits her perfectly. She exemplifies the beauty of contrasts.
It is rare for a fashion model to eschew in her social life the labels she wears in her profession. Aoki is no exception. She is often seen in dazzling dresses made by the designers she represents, mostly at promotional events. Her more casual attire, while no less stunning, consists of low-rise pants and tight tops -- just the way we like it. Though glitzy, her style remains classy and modest, never exposing more skin than necessary.