What’s your full name?
Vanessa Rose Blair
How old are you?
Where were you born/brought up?
I was actually born in a small southern town called Trang in Thailand. I then moved with my mum to the UK when I was 1.
What do you do for a living?
I’m in shoot production and model booking, but am studying Interior Design!
What’s your ethnicity?
Thai and White British.
How did your mum and dad meet?
It’s such a weird story, but they met in South Africa! My dad was over there helping build a restaurant, and my Mum was hired for waitressing. It was my mum’s aunt who owned the business, so that was where the link was.
How old were you when you became conscious that people saw you differently? What impact did that have on you?
I felt my worst in secondary school, so about 13. I was always just so focused on fitting in rather than totally being myself and found that I was much shyer than I normally would be.
Did you want to change your appearance when you were a child?
Of course but I think that’s a natural thing growing up. Nothing like a good set of braces and a tan can’t fix!
Describe your most memorable moments when you were made aware of being mixed race.
I think going round to a lot of the girls house at school, I started to feel aware. I think being from an Asian background, everything is stricter and we have different rules. And I just remember feeling really different and left out.
Do you feel your parents prepared you for life as a mixed race person?
I think my Dad did but my Mum was adjusting to the UK herself so think we were in the same boat! I think my Dad was really there for me when I had problems, and made it so much easier to get over things.
What ignorant comments have you heard about being mixed-race that really rile you?
The worst Asian-related ones I’ve had are about our culture or things like eating habits. It’s generally always the idiots who are just really uneducated and embarrassing. The best comments are lady-boy related – you just laugh after a while!
What do you wish people who aren’t mixed-race understood?
That it’s a lot harder dealing with two different cultures than you think! My mumma is so drilled into her ways as her mum was with her, and it’s hard to juggle families that have completely different views on society.
Do you think mixed race people/families are well represented in the media?
I think yes it’s starting to really get there, now more than ever. I really do think the media is now embracing every race and every culture, and its so refreshing to see it more.
Back in the late 19th century/early 20th century being mixed race held a stigma, as it was clear proof of interracial relations which was seen as an affront to society’s morals. Do you think it’s easier nowadays to be mixed race or is it more that racism has become subtler?
Maybe a bit of both. I’d love to sit here and say racism is more subtle, but it’ll always be there. However saying that, I really do think it’s becoming so much more accepted to be mixed raced or know someone who is.
Is being mixed race a burden or a blessing for you?
Blessing for sure! I mean maybe it’s because I’m Asian mixed raced, or I grew up virtually in England – but for me I wouldn’t dream of being anything else!
Have you felt a struggle with your identity? If so, how did you deal with it and if you are now at peace with who you are, how did you come to a place of self-acceptance?
It’s crazy because growing up in school I always wanted to be seen as just English - (because I thought that would be easier to be accepted) but getting older, I really made an effort to show my Mum that I wanted to embrace my culture as much as possible.
What advice would you give to your younger self?
Do everything! And dream girrrrl. I’ve always been such a realist it’s crazy. I never had ‘unrealistic’ goals or ambitions, and I think I would have been pushing myself harder years ago if I knew that there’s no point being too realistic.