HAVEN'T had a pretty face here in a while. Okay, here's someone that I featured in Manila Bulletin back in 2005. At the time, Singapore native Denise Keller was a sought after model and MTV Asia VJ who was in town to promote Plains & Prints, a local brand of women's wear, of which she was an image endorser then.
Since then, Denise has added a few more things to her increasingly impressive resume. In addition to being one of the most recognized faces in South East Asia (shame on you if haven't heard of her) and gracing the covers of Asia'a best known magazines, she has also been honored with such prestigious awards as Elle Singapore's 2008 Fashion Icon of the Year.
Aside from remaining a resident MTV Asia VJ, Denise is also currently hosting Discovery Travel And Living for the Discovery Channel and is also involved with a number of projects addressing issues such as Aids/HIV, human trafficking, drugs and eco-awareness.
And here's a slightly revised version of my 2005 feature profile on this fine lady:
NO PLAIN JANE
By EDWIN P. SALLAN
IN the guestbook section of her official site, popular MTV Asia VJ Denise Keller warns, “I can track your IP or just delete your entry so keep profanities to a minimum.”
Of course, given that Denise is such a hot chick, it's just natural for trigger-happy male online fans to get a little carried away. But as stern as her little warning sounds, it is really nothing more than a friendly reminder and is hardly necessary at all.
Because anyone who has either seen Denise do her mesmerizing thing on MTV or who has had the good fortune of actually getting to know her up close and personal is likely to tell you that she exudes nothing but positive vibes and effortless sensuality. Known by most fans for her good-natured wit and infectious energy, there is really nothing profanity-worthy about this confidently sexy woman, who was recently in town to do work as an image model for the Plains & Prints brand of specialty women's wear.
And as cliched as it sounds, she is a lot more than just a pretty face. This VJ slash supermodel is a Renaissance Girl of sorts who in her spare time is also a painter slash athlete slash avid fencer slash animal lover slash yoga enthusiast slash voracious reader slash everything in between. Born to a German father and a Chinese mother, Denise was born and raised in Singapore, a land of incredibly friendly people which also explains why she's pretty much sugar and spice and everything nice.
“I grew up in a matriarch kind of family along with my grandmother, my mother and my sister,” she fondly recalls. “That's four generations of women living in one house, we're kinda like The Joy Luck Club.”
As a kid, Denise was very much into drawing things and in fact, saw herself as having a successful career in advertising. She sort of got her wish when at the very tender age of 13, she was discovered by a modeling scout and was soon gracing print and TV commercials for popular consumer brands as Samsung, Renault, LG, Kao Biore, Coca-Cola, Panasonic, Palmolive, Shiseido, Max Factor, Giordano, Nokia, Wacoal and Bausch & Lomb. At the start of the millennium, Denise also won the coveted Ford Supermodel of the World title. As a result of all these exposures, she also became a popular cover girl for top magazines like Elle, Cleo, Seventeen and yes, of course, FHM.
But as much as she loves the fine arts and was having a great time with her modeling career, Denise is equally passionate about music.
“Music has always been in my blood,” she quips. “I love Madonna but not because of her music but because she's a great performer. When I was young, I would lock myself in my sister's room, dress myself up like Madonna and jump up and down my sister's bed and sing like Madonna. In college, I was the singer of our school band and we wound perform songs by Bob Marley like Jammin' and Is This Love and all that.”
So when an opportunity to audition as an MTV VJ was brought to her attention by a make-up artist friend of hers, Denise was initially in a dilemma as she already had other plans at the time.
“I was in Hong Kong at the time and was already planning to go to New York to finance my studies in Fine Arts but I've always been a fan of MTV. So when I heard that Donita was getting married and leaving soon, I thought it would be a great job to be a VJ myself so I auditioned and I eventually got the job.” she exclaims.
Denise is obviously not the type who likes to be pigeonholed under a certain category or field of specialization. The host of such shows like MTV Pop Ink, MTV Screen and MTV Rock It! does like to be associated with things that are reflective of her independent personality and sunny outlook in life such as her memorable stint in the recent reality dating show, Eye For A Guy or the charitable cause fighting the child sex trade known as WMD or Women Making A Difference.
Plains & Prints is one particular brand that she's proud to be an image endorser of, as its present collection of young women's wear is very much like her.
“Their clothes are very me,” Denise beams. “I don't like to be dull. I like to paint pastels and I always like colors. And I really like the clothes that Plains & Prints make. The colors are so vivacious, bright and sunny and the designs are so funky and eclectic. You know, I'm not a big fan of skirts because I'm more of the tomboyish type. But these skirts really suit my taste. So watch out, boys. I think I'll wear skirts more often now and maybe even bring some of them back to Singapore.”