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Thanet snapped snapping a pic of a cute monkey.
Thanet snapped snapping a pic of a cute monkey. ASIA CAM-PHOTOGRAPHY

A star is born

Temple Town’s talented 22-year-old Thorn Thanet is a university student, professional photographer, model, bike rental shop proprietor – and an up-and-coming movie star. Thik Kaliyann reports.

Becoming an actress is very much a dream come true for young Siem Reap woman Thorn Thanet, although on the way to her big-screen success she’s also notched up a string of other triumphs at the ripe old age of 22.

After graduating from high school, she worked as a Japanese translator for three years, while also studying to improve her photography skills. Women have recently made their mark in photography in Cambodia, but in Siem Reap women rarely enter this field. Thorn Thanet persevered and now works as a professional photographer at Asia Cam-Photography in Siem Reap.

Thanet armed and at the ready with her trusty camera.
Thanet armed and at the ready with her trusty camera. ASIA CAM-PHOTOGRAPHY

“Taking photographs is like a long journey to find the precious things hidden in the deep forest,” she said. “It seems like an enjoyable adventure.”

But at times her role extends from behind the camera work to working in front of the camera as a model. On top of that, she is also continuing her studies and is a third year marketing student at Build Bright University. She is already using her marketing skills, running her own rental bike business called ‘Vintage Bike’ and often travels to Phnom Penh to increase the market for her business.

But perhaps her greatest triumph is becoming an actress. She said that she initially couldn’t believe it when she was chosen by the Women’s Media Center of Cambodia to star in movies which educate people about the reality of current problems in Cambodian society.

Especially thrilling was the chance to work in an educational movie with the seasoned Cambodian actor Tep Rindaro, who started acting in 1987.

Thanet steps onto the other side of the camera in her role as model.
Thanet steps onto the other side of the camera in her role as model. ASIA CAM-PHOTOGRAPHY

“It was my childhood dream. I like all movies produced by the Women’s Media Center, and I always wished I could perform in one of their movies one day,” she said, adding that even though she’s busy as an actress now, she will never quit her photography job.

She has already performed in four movies this year, and has been the main character due to her performing talents and her beauty.

The movies this year have related to domestic violence, rape and agriculture, and her first movie, Muslim Daughter, explored the difficulty of a Muslim woman's life. “I had never acted in a movie before,” she said. “I felt a bit nervous, but finally after seeing the movie production I could say that the story was awesome, and that encouraged me to improve myself more and more.”

Her second movie, Victims, looks at the difficult life of a rural teacher who is raped by her cunning close friend after she rejects his love a month before her wedding day. At first she feels she could not reveal this painful incident to her parents and police as she is a single woman in a family who strongly respects Khmer tradition. Her parents decree that being a virgin is most important for every woman. But finally she decides to file a complaint to police and then the investigation starts.

“All the stories are based on a true story,” Thorn Thanet said. “Victims also revealed the life of 14-year-old girl who was raped by her stepfather after he watched a porn movie at a coffee shop.”

Thanet at work on the set of the Fat Rice, Thin Rice movie.
Thanet at work on the set of the Fat Rice, Thin Rice movie. PHOTO SUPPLIED

Victims, her second film, gained a reputation and following in Cambodian entertainment circles, and movies she has starred in – Victims, Fire without Smoke, and Fat Rice, Thin Rice – have been shown on a variety of Cambodian television channels such as MYTV, CTN, TVK, TV3, and SEATV.

The Women’s Media Centre is Cambodia's premier non-governmental, nonprofit media organisation that delivers innovative and informative programs on a diverse range of issues affecting national awareness of contemporary Cambodia, with a special focus on the roles and rights of Cambodian women.

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