KUALA LUMPUR: Each time a notification sound goes off from her handphone, Christina Chelliah will quickly check it out as she has learned that it can be costly to miss a call.
“If I return it two minutes later, the job which was intended for me would be handed to someone else,” said the 32-year-old former Miss Malaysia Universe finalist who now resides in New York.
She quit her practice at a law firm in Kuala Lumpur two years ago to pursue her catwalk dreams. It has been an amazing journey for the 5’7” beauty, who is back here for a short break.
The recently engaged Christina was featured last year in a champagne commercial with Khloe Kardashian.
“We were told that the advertisement would feature a celebrity. No one knew who it was. After our make-up session, we were ushered to a room and there was Khloe,” she recalled.
One of her most memorable moments to date was appearing in the TV series Person of Interest.
“It was unbelievable. Although I did not get a speaking role, I felt like a star,” said Christina.
She had also made appearances in Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, Nurse Jackie and Royal Pains.
The decision to make New York her second home came after her brother graduated from a music school in the United States and persuaded her to move there.
At the time, she was a corporate lawyer by day and a college lecturer by night.
Nineteen days into her big move to New York, she landed a hostess job for the wedding of billionaire George Soros at his private estate.
“It was an eye opener for me as I got to meet politicians and many celebrities for the first time,” said Christina.
“People kept asking me why I took up a hostess job when I could be sitting in my lawyer’s office. But the experience in New York is something I would never be able to buy.”
A year later, Christina signed with three agencies which kept her on her toes.
Christina acknowledged that there were times in New York when she was close to giving up.
“Once, I had to endure the cold winter. I was on the edge of leaving everything and return to KL,” said Christina.
However, the legal eagle in her still thrives as she plans to take on the New York Bar one day and possibly a master’s degree, too.