From top model to pop star: Mariya Nishiuchi's rise to fame

From top model to pop star: Mariya Nishiuchi's rise to fame

In pursuit of her new potential in show business, fashion icon and actress Mariya Nishiuchi has made her debut as a singer this time around, releasing an upbeat rock song titled "Love Evolution."

"Rather than pursuing someone as my goal, I'd like to make 'Mariya Nishiuchi' evolve step by step," she said.

Having started her showbiz career as a fashion magazine model at age 13, she has steadily climbed the entertainment-world ladder as she expanded her boundaries from fashion to film and even television.

She dubbed the role of heroine Lyra Belacqua for the 2008 Japanese release of the US film "The Golden Compass" and played a lead role in a TV drama series on the Fuji TV network last year.

As a top model in the teenage fashion magazine "Seventeen," Nishiuchi won the admiration of many high school girls as a fashion icon. She was even chosen as the "celebrity with the face teenage girls most wish they had."

The fashion star's debut as a singer is now in the spotlight.

Back in her primary and middle school days, Nishiuchi was a devoted badminton player.

"I intended to give it everything, " she said.

She always ranked among the top players at badminton competitions in her hometown of Fukuoka.

Even middle and high schools with highly competitive badminton teams approached her, trying to snatch her up for their teams.

But her fate changed after her elder sister, Hiro Nishiuchi, entered the entertainment world.

Though she had little interest in showbiz at first, her mother and sister submitted an audition application on Nishiuchi's behalf without her knowledge.

She failed the audition, but she was scouted by a staff member from her current management office and began attending an entertainment school in Fukuoka - an experience that gradually changed her mind.

"I went to that school on Saturdays, taking lessons for singing, dancing, modeling and acting," she recalled.

Having lived in a world of sports all about sweat with no makeup, Nishiuchi was startled to see girls her age wearing cute clothes and makeup.

"I started wanting to be as pretty as the girls around me, so I got interested in makeup and fashion," she explained.

Though she still had badminton training four times a week, she gradually looked forward to the lessons on Saturday.

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