It’s a cold winter’s day, but Jun Hasegawa greets us, wearing shorts and tank top. It’s been a busy day of fashion shooting, but Hasegawa, 22, is all smiles and happy to chat about life as a model and actress in Japan. “Modeling is fun but much harder work than people think,” she says. “Even when it is snowing, we’ll be in our tank tops and skimpy skirts, pretending we are having so much fun. Then in summer, we’ll be outside wearing knitted caps, scarves, jackets and boots.”
Born in New Hampshire to a Japanese mother and American father, Hasegawa moved to Hawaii at the age of two and grew up there until she was scouted at 14. She has two sisters, April and July (all three daughters are named after months). “My mother met this Japanese man who was starting a production company in Japan. I auditioned and they liked me. So at 15, I came to Japan. For the first year, I was going to auditions for many magazines but I never got a job. I took dancing lessons and attended Yokohama International School. A year later, I went to an audition for a magazine called ViVi. That’s when all the doors started to open.”
Hasegawa still appears regularly in ViVi as well as many other magazines. She does ad campaigns for Shiseido and sports brand FILA, among others. With her exotic looks, Hasegawa has become sought after. Industry observers say the “half” or "haafu" look of models like Hasegawa is now more in demand. “I think nowadays, young girls want something different. Certainly, ViVi is doing better saleswise because it is a more trendy magazine,” says Hasegawa, who says she doesn't mind the term "haafu."
Fashion shows like the Tokyo and Kobe Girls Collection are big events for Hasegawa because it gives her a chance to see her fans who flock to the popular 6-hour shows. She recently took part in the collections in Shanghai, too. “Those long shows are hard work, a bit like model boot camp,” she says with a laugh. “When you see all the girls who buy the magazines you’re in, it makes it all worthwhile. It’s a very cool experience.”
Hasegawa’s latest project is her film acting debut in “Honokaa Boy,” which was filmed in Hawaii. It’s a simple story about a young man named Leo who visits Honokaa and falls in love with the place. He moves there and works as a projectionist at an old theater. “My role is the local girl who Leo falls for. I’m sort of playing myself, I suppose. Sorry to tell you, there are no lovemaking or kissing scenes,” Hasegawa jokes. “Making a movie was a huge learning experience and a good start in the industry for me. I definitely want to do more movies.”
Looking very sleek, Hasegawa says the secret to keeping in shape is to know your limits. “I like to have just as much fun as the next girl, but usually work starts from 6 in the morning. Some girls can party all night, sleep for two hours and still look fresh. I need my beauty sleep. I used to go to the gym and tried yoga, but now I take belly dancing classes. That’s a fun way to keep fit.”
And what sort of man turns her on? “I’m obsessed with Elvis,” she says. “Actually, I like men who make me laugh. My happiest moments are when I am with a guy who can make me laugh so hard. That is a big turn-on.”
Hasegawa knows that there is more to life than modeling and says that in future, she would like to become involved in projects to help less fortunate people in Africa, for example. “I really admire what Angelina Jolie does,” she says.© Japan Today