Cousin Ko, Aunt Taew on her wedding day, and Art)
From a humble less-than-zero beginning, a little boy began his life...
traveling on an almost impossible journey, armed only with determination & undying hope...
in search of his......
Mom, Linda Purdy
The True Life Story of
Art Supawatt Aumprasit Purdy
and his self-made, real life 'Star Bridge.'
Art Supawatt Purdy, born Supawatt Aumprasit (Thai: ศุภวัฒน์ อ่ำประสิทธิ์),
on September 1, 1969 in Bangkok Thailand,
is a Thai-American actor, singer, TV host and MC.
Art began his career in entertainment as a model in 1993 when he signed an exclusive contract with Storm Models Management, New York. This chance of a lifetime came as a surprise to Art because he never thought of himself as a good-looking guy, let alone a model. Before this, his career plan was to become an engineer working at NASA along side his college best girlfriend, Marion Thompson. While realising that it's a chance of lifetime but with only one semester away from graduating with a master degree in Industrial Engineering, Art almost declined the contract offer. All changed when Art's adopted mother, Linda Purdy, talked some senses into him and gave him her blessing for his new career endeavour as a professional model in New York City.
Soon after moving to NYC, Art went to work right away to be ready to work as a model by doing various test shoot sessions in search of the best shots to put together a strong 'book' and a good comp card. It took almost 2 months before Art went on his first go-sees readily equipped with 'the book' and 'the comp card.' During his time with Storm, Art was sent on countless go-sees and castings for some the biggest names in fashion including GQ magazine and world famous photographer Bruce Weber.
*The 'book' refers to a 'model book' that contains several pictures considered to be the best representation of the model in various looks and situations. A comp card or a model composite card is a printed card that contains the best selections of the photos from the book to be given to clients at go-sees and to be exhibited at the agency, usually on the wall, together with the rest of model represented by the agency in alphabetical order.
Art found moderate success as one of the 50 male models represented by Storm Modeling Management. Art was booked on all kinds of modelling assignments from fashion editorials to music videos, from TV commercials to runways, he's done it all. Some of his notable assignments included a french music video, a sport underwear box, a Japanese Cigarette Commercial starring Charlie Sheen and a Givenchy Advertisement for Vogue Magazine.
While working as a struggling model, Art supplemented his income by working as a database designer for Drury Design Dynamic & Lexington Photo Lab on 23rd street. Late in Spring of 1995, Art received a phone call from a good friend Zach who was calling from Bangkok. Zach Hankins was an American Model from NYC who relocated to Asia to take advantage of the growing demands for Caucasian models in the region. On the phone, Zach told Art about many modelling job opportunities in Thailand and suggested Art to come join him. Since Art always wanted to go to visit his great-aunts anyway, he found the idea very attractive. Art told Zach that he'd come but needed some time to work to make some money to pay for the trip and to find someone to sublet the apartment. One month after that phone call, on a beautiful sunny day in late May, Art boarded a Northwest Airlines flight from New York City to Bangkok to spend two months vacation in the summer of 1995.
Soon after arriving in Thailand, Art landed a couple of modelling jobs working as a fashion editorial model for two of Thailand's top fashion magazine. The first editorial was a 16-page fashion editorial for Dirk Bikemberg 1995 Summer Collection by Axil @39 for Dichan Magazine. Regarded as the most influential in Thai fashion, Dichan Magazine was the top-selling and considered to be the best fashion magazine in Thailand at that time. To photograph Art, top fashion photographer Mr. Witaya Marayart was chosen to do the job. The second set of fashion editorial was for Image Magazine, another popular fashion magazine of the day. For this shoot, Art was booked to work with his buddy Zach and Thai Supermodel Geraldine Ricondel. The talented and super artistic photographer Neng Wachira, another big name in Thai fashion, was commissioned to photograph the trio at a popular amusement park in Bangkok. Image editorial was the first and only time Art & Zach had ever worked together.
In August 1995, Dichan Magazine, the Queen Sirikit's Birthday Special Issue, featuring Art in a 16-page spread editorial hit the newsstand all around Thailand. The following week,The Image Magazine featuring Art & Zach in the fashion editorial also hit the newsstand. Appearing in Dichan and Image Magazine successfully introduced Art to the Thai fashion scene beyond any expectations. All of a sudden, everybody wanted to know more about the handsome muscled-up caucasian model with a Thai name in Dichan and Image Magazine.
~ Art decided to use his childhood name 'Supawatt Aumprasit' in the credits for both of the fashion editorials instead of his real name Art Purdy. This is because he wanted to show that even though he may not look like one but he's Thai through and through and proud of it. ~
By the time Dichan Magazine came out, Art was already back in NYC and had no idea about how the editorial had gotten so much attention in Thailand. Furthermore, he really had no idea that he was in demand until his famous Thai fashion designer friend Anurak called and told him all about it. According to Anurak, many calls came in looking for Art from several production houses and advertising agencies. They all wanted Art to come in for a casting. The stylists from various fashion magazines and fashion show organisers also called to book Art for fashion shows and editorials. As one of the fashion industry insider who knows a lot about the business, Anurak recommended for Art to seriously consider coming back to Thailand to take advantage of these job opportunities. Anurak also told Art that if he's ever serious about launching a successful modelling career in Thailand, the time is now.
Once again, Art faced with a tough decision of whether or not to relocate half-way around the world. It's not a decision to be taken lightly because it will change his life completely. The good thing was the fact that he could be closer to his great-aunts and therefore he could take care of them personally. On the other hand, he believed that he might be able to take care of them better financially with an engineer salary if he went back to finish his master degree and started to work as an engineer. This way though he could only send money and trust someone to look after them. Judging from his great-aunts current living condition, Art believed that he's the only one who could provide them with the best care.
Not knowing what to do, he turned to his Linda for advice. Linda told Art to go for it. She thought it's a great move career-wise. In reality, the reason why Linda was very supportive this time was because she recognised her son's compassion and devotion. It's the same kind of dedication that made her decided to relocate to Florida many years ago and selflessly devoted her life to flawlessly and tirelessly taking care of her mother. With his mom's full support, Art relocated to Thailand in October of 1995 and began a new chapter of his life. Unbeknownst to him at the time, this move was the beginning of something big beyond his wildest dream.
For the next three years, Art worked as a professional model in Thailand doing all kinds of modelling works including modelling for magazines, runways and commercials. Art's big break came in 1997 when he was chosen to play the lead in a TV commercial for 'Hunter Whiskey'. The commercial was aired very heavily on all of the television networks during primetime thanks to its massive promotion budget for advertising and marketing. Together with its funny storyline and concept, the Hunter whiskey become the biggest hit in the summer of 1997 catapulted Art into the spotlight of fame. The commercial was such a big hit that Art became known as 'Art Leum Kek' (Leum Kek was the name of the commercial). The success of the Hunter Whiskey commercial provided Art with the necessary exposure needed to advance him to the next stage of his career as an actor.
Art's acting debut came in 1998 when he was casted to play the part of 'Seua Pao' in 1998 mega hit 'Seua... Jone Pan Seua' (Th:เสือ...โจรพันธุ์เสือ), a biopic based on a real life story of 'Seua Bai,' dubbed the bandit and the gentleman because of his courtesy during the robbery. He was Thailand Most Wanted criminal who became infamous for robbing only the rich during 1950s Thailand after WWII.
In 1998, still riding high off the success playing 'Seua Pao' in 'Seua...Jone Pan Seua,' Art signed an exclusive contract with Kantana Video Production and started to work right away playing the male lead in Kantana's big budget TV miniseries headlining the launch of Tele5 called 'Petch Ta Meaow' Needless to say, Art began his TV acting career with a bang in 'Petch Ta Meaow' staring opposite Emma Wararatn Suvarnaratn, Ms Asia Pacific 1998. Premiered on Ch. 5 in February 1999, this remake of the cult classic quickly became one of the biggest primetime hit of that year, catapulted Art & Emma to stardom overnight. Nothing could prepare Art for his next big break when 'Span Dao' was picked up by Ch. 7 to air during primetime after the news. 'Sapan Dao' was ch. 7 runaway hit for the summer of 1999. Art continued to act in the leading role in miniseries classics including Khon Reung Muang, Fai Kamathep and Hua Jai Song Park before totally turned his back at acting completely and began the next stage of his career as a singer.
In 2003, Art signed a recording contract with Warner Music and released his CD 'Art of Love,' a collection of love songs for every kind of love, written and produced by the Great Thanongsak Arpornsiri of the legendary band GrandEx. Since discovering the gift of entertaining, he's been entertaining the world non-stop doing numerous concert tours from Tokyo to Zurich to New York to Sin City Las Vegas. In 2011, Art temporarily relocated to Singapore for 5 months when he was casted to play the male lead opposite Singapore's own Leena Salim in the musical comedy 'Cold White Lies and Red Hot Scandals' produced by Starsmaker Production. The show ran for 3 months at the Titanium, Esplanade, Theatres On The Bay, Singapore.
In 2016, after 14 years away from the small screen, Art finally made a triumphant return to TV and coming back home to ch. 7. Appearing in 'Gold 10' directed by Thailand most revered director and National Artist Chalong Pakdeevijitr, Art took on one of the most challenging role of his career playing a paranoid schizophrenia treasure hunter named John.
as John The treasure Hunter Gone Crazy
in 'Gold 10',
as Chief Police Anake in 'Sarawat Yai' and
Winner of Nagaraj Award 2019
for Best Multi-Talented Actor
Art's comeback proved to be highly successful when he played the arch-villain chief police Anake in Ch.7HD Dramagic Group Production remake of 'Sarawat Yai.' Based on a 1989 popular true crime novel by Pol Gen Vasit Dejkunchorn of the same name, 'Sarawat Yai' is the story of a young honest policeman named Yai Veroj who's been promoted to overlook the police station in the frontier township of Pralan. When the ambitious Sarawat Yai arrived in Pralan, he quickly found out that this lawless town ruled by corrupted officials and mafias was full of criminals and crimes.
Premiered in January 2019, Sarawat Yai quickly became a must-see TV every Friday- Sunday nights. In addition to earning #2 spot on Thailand Highest Rated Miniseries of 2019 Year-end Chart (#1 in the action genre), Sarawat Yai also made history by becoming ch. 7HD first primetime rerun and the only miniseries that returned as a rerun within the same year. Beside making and breaking all kinds of records, 'Sarawat Yai' also won many awards including Maya Awards 2019 Best Action Miniseries. At the 2019 Nagaraj Awards, Art was named 'Best Multi-Talented Actor' for his portrayal of the corrupted chief police Anake.
Judging from his good nature and fun loving personality, one would have never guessed that this lively and exuberant star had a very humble and not so promising beginning.
The Star is Born:-
After giving birth to Art, his mother abandoned him and put him up for adoption. Luckily, after found out about his existent, his aunt Nong went to adopt him with the hope to raise him as her son. Unfortunately, his luck didn't last long. Not long after adopting baby Art, his aunt became pregnant and gave birth to a son. Raising two young babies proved to be too much for his aunt. Once again Art was to be dismissed but how? and who will take him this time?
One day on the way from back to their rice fields from their home in town, two sisters Boontum and Prapai decided to stop over to visit their niece Nong and was quite intrigued to find a little white baby boy crawling around on the floor.
They asked Nong:
'whose baby is this? He's so cute and adorable....and so so white!'
'Oh, his name is Art. He's my little sister Tukta's son. Why? Do you want to take him?
Prapai quickly replied:
'But of course, he's cute, we'll take him'
Just like that, Prapai picked Art up off the floor and took him back to the rice field with them like a cute little puppy. Fortunately though for him, this time he was taken by two angles, his great-aunts Boontum and Prapai (Yai Tum and Yai Pai) who took him back to their rice field and raised him and loved him as if he's their own.
~ 'Yai' means grandmother in Thai. Thai children are taught to call their great-aunts 'Khun Yai' just the same as their maternal grandmother. ('Khun' is a polite and respectable way to address someone older or younger worthy of your respect.) ~
Pong (Art's cousin), Khun Yai Boontum, Art with Khun Yai Prapai
In reality, both yai Tum and yai Pai were sisters of Art's grandmother which made them to be Art's great-aunts. Both of them were never married because they were stuck with the responsibility of running the family rice production business. Back in those days, only the boys in the family had an opportunity to go to school to be educated. Since all their brothers went away to school and their mother was too old to be working the field, Boontum and Prapai had be the ones to work to pay for their brothers education and to put food on the table for the rest of the family including several nieces and nephews. Boontum and Prapai started to learn to produce rice with their dad in the family rice fields since they were little girls and never stoped since. They gracefully accepted their faith and never once complained about anything. They worked hard all their lives, so hard that they missed the opportunities to marry and have a family like the rest of their siblings. That's why when Art came along, he's like heaven sent.
When the rest of the family found out, everyone was against the idea of Boontum and Prapai raising baby Art. The family warned the two sisters to rethink everything again. . They tried to point out that a baby abandoned at birth with no father or mother to raise him would most certainly grow up to be a problem teenager, especially when he's half American. They added that a problem teenager would then grow up to be a troubled man bringing the two sisters endless headache and sorrow. They all somehow seemed convinced that Art's future would amount to nothing but a drug addict. The family simply didn't want the two sisters to work even harder in their old age just so they could feed the baby. The two sisters could appreciate that the family spoke genuinely with valid concerns.
Art understood the importance of education at a very young age. He knew that in order to secure a good life for him and his great-aunts he calls grandmothers, he must have a college degree. He also realised the fact that college education costs money. As it was, they already had to work hard just to make ends meet and to put food on the table. At 13, Art decided to write his mother and asked for a chance to go live with her in America. To his surprise, she said yes.
At the age of 14, Art moved to America to live with his parents in Fort Walton Beach, Florida where he attended Fort Walton Beach High School. Art started 10th grade knowing very little English so he chose classes with minimum English like French & Mathematics. His report card for the first two six weeks filled with mostly C's and B's and some A's. But by the 3rd six week Art managed to bring home a straight A report card. Art continued to fill his report cards with all A's until he graduated high school.
It did not take long before Art realized that the 14 years apart made it impossible for him to bond with his mother. The living hell for Art began only three months after he arrived Fort Walton Beach when his mother refused to take him to the hospital when the pain from appendicitis was too much to bare. One day at school, his English teacher, Ms. Purdy, start to see that something was wrong, so she decided to have to talk with Art. After talking with Art, Ms. Purdy discovered that Art was a victim of 'child abuse' and wanted to report to the authorities, but Art beg her not to. She agreed with one condition that Art must call her everyday after dinner to report to her of his well-being. Art agreed.
After saving enough money, Art bought a car and moved out from his mother's on his 18th birthday and a nightmare that lasted for 3 years had come to an end. Art found a place to live with a friend. To survive, Art worked as a waiter at Staff's Restaurant at night while continuing his 12th grade studies during the day.
When Ms. Purdy found out that Art had moved out, she asked him to come live with her family and eventually adopted him into the Purdy Family. At the beginning Art was sent to live next door with Ms. Purdy's Brother Jay and his wife Sherry Purdy.
Just like that, Art gained 6 brothers and sisters, all adopted except one. The eldest brother is Doug Purdy, he is half American-Japanese. All American David Purdy is the second eldest followed by the beautiful kind-hearted American and Japanese mix Kerry. Tracy is the youngest of the original 4 and Jay & Sherry's only natural daughter. Aun & Tao from Vietnam later joined the family. Art is the youngest and the last one adopted by the Purdys.
~ All of his life as a boy, Art's always longed for the kind of loving hugs his cousins Co and Cade used to get from their mom, his aunt Kneng. True, both of his great-aunts gave Art plenty of hugs and so much love as much as or even more than any mother could ever give her child. To be clear, Art was happy and very well taken care of by both his great-aunts. But still, it's just that one thing that he just wanted to experience just once. He wanted to feel the warmth of the mother's loving arms; the mother who gave birth to him. He thought for sure he'll get his wish when his mother let him go to live with her in American. Unfortunately for Art, his mother never gave him any kind of motherly love during the 2.5 years he lived with her, not even a hug. ~
Art photographed here with his two moms
(from left) Sherry Purdy, Art Purdy & Linda Purdy
Finally, Art found a loving home with a real loving family. When Linda gave Art a hug to welcome him to the family, she held him tight and wouldn't let go for a moment as if to reassure him that he's safe now and that he's home. Her motherly embrace gave Art something he had always wanted to experience ever since he was a child. That is to feel the warmth of a mother's loving arms. Up until that day, the horrible ordeal that the had to face while living with his mom for 2.5 years forced Art to give up on that hope completely.
Soon after becoming part of the Purdy family, Art learned something very important about being a family. He learned that family made with love and not always blood. Family is the people in your life who always want you in theirs, who can accept you for who you are, who want to see you happy and successful, who always there for you in times of trouble. Most importantly, family is the people in your life who love you no matter what and without any conditions.
Art with brothers David & Doug Purdy & Aun Watson at sister Tracey Purdy Brown Wedding at the family home in Shalimar in Florida, Summer 1997.
In the fall of 1988, after graduating high school, Art began his undergraduates studies at Florida State University (FSU) in Tallahassee, Florida. He received two scholarships to study Engineering . The Kawanis Scholarship and a full scholarship from the Southern Scholarship Foundation (provided Room and Board for the entire 4.5 years Art studied at FSU)
In 1993, he graduated from Florida State University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Industrial Engineering. Following his dream of working at NASA, he continued his education in the Industrial Engineering Master of Science program in Expert System. Second semester into his Master degree, he was offered a modeling contract, so he decided to put his NASA dream aside and gave modeling a try. Subsequently, he moved to New York City and signed with Storm Model Management and began his career in modeling. He later described his time in New York City as 'the time of my life' and appearing in Vogue (magazine), Germany Edition, in the advertisement for Givenchy as the proudest moment in his life.
In 1996, after receiving news about many great job opportunities from his model friend who was working in Bangkok at the time, he decided to go to Thailand to try his luck and to visit his 2 grandmothers. After visiting his grandmothers, Art decided to move back to Thailand permanently to take care of them and to improve their quality of life. Workwise, Art was very well received. After a year of working as a model for various top fashion magazines, runways, advertisements and commercials, his big break came in 1997 when he was chosen to be the presenter in a TV commercial for 'Hunter Whiskey."
Art has always known that to have a good future, he must have a university degree. The Purdys provided him with a firm root to stand on so he can grow emotionally and academically. Since he no longer had to work late on school nights to earn money to survive, he could devote his time to making good grades again. He knew that making straight A's for all the classes his senior years is a must if he wanted to be considered for some scholarships and to be accepted to the university of his choice. While Linda would help him pay for the university, Art preferred to try to find a way himself first by trying to win some scholarships. In general, Art's always been a good student and never failed to bring home a straight A's report card, the tradition he started since the 3rd six week of his sophomore year (10th grade).
In high school Art was very good in math, science and art. Naturally, Architecture seemed to be a sound choice for his career path. But his art teacher told him that the demands for new buildings in the US had been declining in the 80's and she strongly believed that it will continue to decline in the 90's as well. She suggested that engineering might be a better choice for Art and told him to look into it. Art agreed and immediately started to do some research to get more information and a closer look on the different types of engineering and decided to go with on Electrical Engineering. Next was to decide which university to attend and study engineering.
Florida State Mascot the Seminole and the Florida State University Logo (Below) FSU Main Campus in Tallahasee, Florida
At that time, both of his sisters Tracey and Thao were attending Florida State University, and naturally Art wanted to join them. In fact, FSU had always been the preferred choice of college for the Purdy kids. Art's eldest brother David began the tradition as the first in the family to graduate from FSU. Locating in Tallahassee, the capital of Florida, FSU's only 3 hours away by car from the Purdy's home in Shalimar, Florida. It's far enough and perfect for the kids to learn to be on their own but close enough if they should to the comfort of home and with only 3 hours drive, if they needed to be home to drive home quickly if he felt homesick. Linda also agreed with Art's choice of university. Art applied and was accepted to study Electrical Engineering at Florida State University (FSU) - Home of the Seminoles.
Fluent in both English and Thai, Art acted in the leading role in several Thai language television mini-series (lakorn). Art began his acting career beautifully starring opposite freshly crowned Miss Asia Pacific 1997 Emma Warrarat Suwarnarat in a colt classic 'Petch Ta Meaw.' Petch Ta Maew was shot in less than 3 months in 1997. Debuted on Ch. 5 in February of 1998, it quickly became an instant hit, making Art & Emma an overnight instant stars.
Art considered Nirattisai as the father of his acting career. Nirattisai also casted Art as the male lead for his 'Lakorn In Concert' (a musical on tour in a rock concert style). Thanks to Nirattisai and his 'Lakorn in Concert', Art discovered his love for singing and entertaining live audience which helped to set stage for the second phrase of his career in entertainment as a singer.
'Petch Ta Meaw' was directed by one of Thailand's great 'Ta' Nirattisai Kaljareuk of the Kantana Dynasty. Today, Katana is widely recognized in Thailand as the pioneer of the Thai Entertainment. It was founded by Pradit Kaljareuk. During the Golden Age of Thai Radio Era, Kantana played a major roll in constructing the blueprints for the Thai entertainment industry with series of many highly successful Radio dramas, a dramatized, purely acoustic performance , broadcast on radio. When the boom of television era hit Thailand, these radio dramas were successfully turned into Thai television classic hits by Kantana Video Productions.
In 2003, he signed a recording contract with Warner Music Thailand and released his first solo album 'Art of Love'. Thanongsak Arpornsiri, ex-member of one of Thailand most successful pop/rock band, GrandEx, was chosen by Warner to produce Art's first solo effort. Mr. Arpornsiri basically took Art under his wings and taught him all about singing, making good music, and how important it is to be 'the real thing.' 'Art of Love' was recorded in six months from from March to August of 2003 and was released in October of that same year. A collection of 10 love songs with meaningful poem-like lyrics together with the perfect mix of fun & beautiful melody of 10 different style of music made 'Art of Love' a unique masterpiece with a class of its own.
In 2008, at the Canne Films Festival, Art was recognized and selected for 'Un Certain Regard' for his work on the Soundtrack of 'Soi Cowboy,' a film by an English Director, Thomas Clay. Credited for providing the music for the soundtrack, Art recorded the remake of a classic Southern gospel "Where We'll Never Grow Old" (Never Grow Old) to be used as the theme song and re-recorded 2 of the tracks from his 2003 CD 'Art Of Love.'