Originally published in
Tucked inconspicuously away in Manhattan's Chinatown is one of the most respected modelling agencies in New York. Inside, in a dark corner office, is a petite Asian woman, prophesizing and profaning about the state of hockey.
Even in Canada you're going to be hard pressed to find a modelling agent so passionate about pucks. But then, how many Canadian model reps guided their little brother towards life in the National Hockey League?
He is Vancouver Canucks' forward Richard Park. She is Christina Park, the straight-shooting, animated owner of Vision Models, who credits Canada, and hockey, with her successful rise in the field of model management.
Originally from Korea, the Park family moved to California when Richard - the youngest - was just three. Mom was a doctor, Dad a lawyer, and not surprisingly they had high expectations of their four children.
According to plan the two oldest siblings became lawyers, so imagine the parents' surprise when 19-year-old Christina called from Toronto to explain she had taken Mom's credit cards, some cash... oh, and her 12-year-old brother to Canada to chase Richard's dream of playing professional hockey. "For me to take off like that," recalls Christina, "they were furious."
Richard had been playing hockey in L.A. with kids five years older than himself, but despite his obvious skill he was not likely going to get to the NHL via Southern California's minor hockey system. So big sister, who had spent the previous three summers accompanying Richard to tournaments in Canada, Massachusetts and Michigan, abandoned her kinesiology studies and absconded with her brother to Ontario.
"Once we got there of course, I had to call my mother and let her know," says Christina, in a reasonable tone. "So I negotiated."
"They said 'Okay, fine, we'll get you a condo, a car, we'll pay your living expenses, blah, blah, blah, if you and Richard get straight A's in school and you can guarantee that you finish your bachelors and get your masters or go to med school.'
"I thought, 'Shit, what the hell did I get myself into?'"