(From left: Cousin Ko, Aunt Taew on her wedding day, and Art)
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 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 that Art to come join him. Art told Zach he found the idea very attractive because he already had plans to visit his great-aunts. After working and saving up enough money, Art took a trip to Bangkok for a two months vacation in the summer of 1995.
Soon after arriving Thailand, Art landed an editorial for Axil@39's Dirk Bikemberg 1995 Summer Collection for Dichan Magazine, one of the top fashion magazine in Thailand at that time. Mr. Witaya Marayart, one of Thailand top fashion photographer, was set to photograph Art's first editorial shoot in Thailand. In addition, Art got booked another editorial shoot for another Thailand top fashion magazine, Image, along with his buddy Zach and Thai Supermodel Geraldine Ricondel and photographed by Neng Wachira. Image editorial was the first and the only time Art & Zach had ever worked together.
Queen Sirikit Birthday Special Issue of Dichan Magazine featuring Art in a 16-page spread editorial hit the newsstand in August 1995. Needless to say, Art's introduction to the Thai fashion world by appearing in Dichan was a big success. His editorial for Image Magazine that came out the following week was also very well received. Everybody wanted to know more about the handsome muscled-up caucasian looking model with a Thai name. (Art decided to use his childhood name 'Supawatt Aumprasit' in the credit instead of his real name, Art Purdy. This is because he wanted to show that he's Thai through and through and proud of it, even though he may not look like one.)
By the time Dichan came out, Art was already back in NYC. That's why he didn't know about how the Dichan 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 were coming in from casting and advertising agencies looking for Art. As one of the industry insider, Anurak recommended for Art to seriously consider coming back to Thailand and take advantage of the current situation. Anurak also told Art that if he's ever serious about launching a successful modelling career in Thailand, now is the time.
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 have a big impact on his life. Not knowing what to do he turned to his mother, Linda, for advice. Linda told Art to go for it. She thought it's a great move career-wise. More importantly, she was able to understand the reason why Art wanted to be closer to his two elderly great-aunts who raised him because it's the exact same reason why she devoted her life to taking care of her mother. With his mom's full support, Art moved 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. His break came in 1997 when he was chosen to play the lead in a TV commercial for 'Hunter Whiskey'. Thanks to the big promotional budget and funny story line, Hunter Whiskey commercial became a hit airing heavily across all media platform and 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 Hunter Whiskey commercial gave Art the nation-wide exposure and helped to advance him to the next stage of his career as an actor.
Art's acting debut came in 1998 when he was cast to play 'Seua Pao' in 1998 mega hit movie 'Seua Jone Pan Seua', a biopic based on true real life story of 'Seua Bai,' 1950's robinhood-like and Thailand most wanted criminal.
In 1998, Art Signed an exclusive contract with Kantana Video Production and went to work right away. Art began his TV acting career with a bang staring opposite Emma Wararat, 1998 Ms Asia Pacific, in a remake of a cult classic mega hit 'Petch Ta Maeow.' Premiered on Ch. 5 in February 1999, Petch Ta Maeow quickly became one of the biggest primetime hit of that year and catapulted Art & Emma into the stardom overnight.
In 2003, Art signed a recording contract with Warner Music and released his CD 'Art of Love' produced by the Great Thanongsak Arpornsiri of the GrandEx fame.
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. Judging from his good nature, one would have never guessed that this fun loving star had a very humble and not so promising start.
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 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 dismissed. Fortunately though for him, this time he was taken by two angles, his great-aunts Yai Tum and Yai Pai who took him back to their rice field and raised him and loved him as their own.
'Yai' means grandma. In a respectable household, young children is taught to call both his grandma and his great-aunt 'Khun Yai.'
Pong (Art's cousin), Khun Yai Boontum, Art with Khun Yai Prapai
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.
Suddenly, Art have 6 brothers and sisters, all adopted except one. The oldest brother is Doug Purdy, half Japanese/American. All American David is the second oldest followed by the beautiful Japanese/American mix, Kerry. Tracy was the youngest of the original 4 and Jay & Sherry's only natural daughter. Aun & Tao from Vietnam were later joined family.
Art finally found a home, and a mother who loves him unconditionally. When Ms. Purdy gave Art a hug to welcome him to the family, she gave Art something so valuable, something he longed for all his life. That is to feel the warmth and the love in the loving arms of a mother. At last, the mother that Art had long for all his life was Ms. Linda Purdy.
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 & his moms, (from right)
and Sharon Purdy
Art with brothers David & Doug Purdy & Aun Watson at sister Tracey Purdy Brown Wedding at the family home in Shalimar in Florida, Summer 1997.
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.
'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.
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.
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, he 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.'
Mom, Linda Purdy