Ex-fashion model turns role model

Ex-fashion model turns role model

Poesy Liang walks with a noticeable limp. Her legs, you see, are lazy.

"I cannot feel them so I walk with my eyes," she explains chirpily. "In fact, I can't feel temperature on my right leg. You could probably barbecue it while I'm talking to you and I wouldn't feel a thing."

It was not always like this.

Ms Liang, 38, once strutted around in stilettos and lived the high life. One of Kuala Lumpur's most sought-after models in the 1990s, she was also a TV personality who mingled with the beautiful set and was wooed by wealthy men.

But three operations to remove life-threatening tumours around her spinal cord changed not just her gait but also her life.

The high-maintenance woman morphed into a lauded multi-hyphenate: philanthropist, jewellery designer, motivational speaker and an artist who not only paints but also writes, sings and composes music.

Bubbly and vivacious, Ms Liang has the easy confidence and mellow maturity of someone who has had her youth stretched by both pleasure and pain.

Indeed, the peaks and troughs of her life would make a great TV soap: fame in her early teens, near paralysis a few years later, a dramatic recovery, a series of failed relationships, relapse, and several self reinventions.

She is the younger of two children. Her Malaysian father is a former businessman, and her Taiwanese mother is an acupuncturist and Chinese physician.

Her early life was a tad unsettling because her father lost a lot of money after setting up a maritime antiques business in the 1980s.

"He was emotionally affected and never quite bounced back from his business failures," she says, adding that the family moved often and her mother helped to make ends meet.

Although their circumstances were not easy, Ms Liang was given lessons in ballet, music and Chinese painting and carving from a very young age.

Naturally artistic, the former student of Bukit Bintang Girls' School in Kuala Lumpur staged her first art exhibition at 11.

At 14, she beat a host of more experienced models to land the lead role in a much-coveted TV commercial for Levi's.

Her brother - now a finance executive in Hong Kong - had a friend who ran a modelling agency and suggested that she try out for the job even though she had never modelled before.

"They told me to turn up in tight jeans and high heels so I wore a pair of my mother's. I had really long hair then and I remember my brother's friends cutting my fringe and making me walk up and down the carpark before going into the audition," she recalls.

Her fresh face and the high-profile commercial made quite a splash.

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