A Supermodel in the Making
You got it mister! My name is Christopher McCombs and I am originally from Andover, Ohio. When I was young I moved to Cleveland, and began working in entertainment as an actor when I was 15 years old. From there I went to a small college in Florida. After graduating, I worked for 2 years on cruise ships. When I quit that job I moved to Las Vegas where I began working as a model. Having saved up a bit of money from modeling, I decided to go back to school to study Japanese.
2. What brought you to Japan?
Well, I brought me here to Japan.
I didn’t see the point of studying Japanese in America anymore, and my Japanese teacher told me that I could work as a model here in Tokyo very easily. She was right! I came here just to study for three months, and am still here! Business is booming so it is hard to walk away.
3. How long have you been here?
As of now I have been here 3 years.
4. Seeing as how your Japanese is so freakin’ good, I surely thought you’d been here for a lot longer. How did you get your Japanese to a conversational level?
My secret? One year working in gay bar boot camp. All Japanese customers. No one spoke English. Gay Japanese men are tough customers! Man did I learn fast! Of course I also have to mention the amazing teachers I had who poured their time and energy into me. I really love all of them and owe them a great deal.
5. Any tips for foreigners trying to work on their Japanese skills?
Throw your pride away and just put yourself out there. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes while you are speaking. Take every opportunity you have to hear the language. Also, don’t be afraid of or competitive with other foreigners trying to learn the language. We are all in the same boat and on the same team!
6. What is the best thing about living in Japan? Why?
Hmm. For three years, every day I have been amazed or awed by something or someone here. For me the best part of living in Japan is every day being reminded that there is so much left for me to learn about this world.
7. What’s been the biggest challenge you’ve had to overcome while living here?
The biggest challenge I have had to overcome so far is myself. It is really easy to accept failure and very difficult to believe in success. I second guess myself as much as anyone else, but I think the impulsive, instinctual side of myself is much stronger. No matter how many jobs I book or how long this show’s contract is for, that self-doubt threatens to tear everything I have worked so hard at apart and send me flying back to America.
I have worked really, really hard to keep that negative voice under control and stay focused on what is going on here in Japan. I have watched a lot of people give in to that voice and bail on their dreams here. I don’t want to be another on that list!
8.Do you plan on being a “Japan For Lifer?”
I don’t want to be anything “for life.” I have moved around quite a bit, and it is very hard to think about staying put. There are so many places and people I would like to get to know. For now I am here, and one day it will be time to go.
9.What do you do for a living?
I work as a model and a talent on Japanese television. The show that I work on is called “Goji ni muchuu.” It’s hard to translate the meaning. It’s something like, “5 o’clock daze.” The show is comedy news. I mostly comment on American culture items and introduce cool places in the Tokyo area. And talk about sex.
In high school, my gifted education teacher suggested it to me. I had never really thought about what I wanted to do with my life before then. She knew I liked art and singing so she asked if I would like to be an actor. I wasn’t sure, but she found an audition for me, and I went for it. I got the first show I auditioned for, and stuck with that show for three years! That teacher and that show really changed my life.
11. You’ve modeled in both the US and Japan, right? How is the modeling/entertainment scene different here in Japan than it is back home? Which do you like better?
Back in America, it seemed much more cold and unfriendly. Here, of course, there is a very high level of competition. However, at the end of the day I go for a drink or dinner with a lot of the guys at the auditions. I cheer them on when they get the jobs. In America I remember wanting to kill people quite a bit.
Wait. Maybe that’s not a difference between the countries but me growing up. Not sure. Lol
12. Hansel or Zoolander? Why?
As a friend? Zoolander. As a coworker? Hansel. As a classmate? Zoolander. Zoolander is an idiot, but he means well so we could hang. If we had to work together on a set, I would murder him. Hansel seems like he gets that team work is part of the job. As a classmate, I could destroy Zoolander. Mwahahaha! I can’t help it. I’m really competitive when it comes to academics.
13. What’s been your favorite acting/modeling gig so far?
Hard to say! Each job is so different, and each area of entertainment is so different. As far as television work, the show I am doing now is my favorite by far. Working with the same team every week is great. You really become family. The commercial we did together for Dominos Pizza is my favorite commercial. What a great shoot that was! I am only sad they didn’t play that commercial more on TV. It was too funny! For modeling, working on Tommy Hilfiger’s anniversary campaign and meeting Tommy himself was amazing.
14. How would you compare your job to say teaching English here in Japan (which is quite common for most foreigners)?
I think both jobs have their pluses and minuses. Both jobs are meaningless if you don’t really pour yourself into it and give it your all.
I do think teaching in a way is like show business. You have to keep students entertained or you will lose them. My favorite teachers were the ones that kept me laughing while learning. My mom is a teacher, and she is always “on” when she is at work. She is always telling me the classroom is her stage and I really respect that.
15. Are there any models, actors, musicians, or entertainers who truly inspire you?
Anyone who is speaking a second language and working in entertainment is amazing I think. Jackie Chan, Julie Dreyfus. Antonio Banderas. All of them amaze me! Shirley Manson, the lead singer of Garbage, makes my day. Also, Kathy Griffin is really making me laugh a lot lately.
16. Are there any gigs that you haven’t done that you would like to try doing in the future?
Well, I really want to do a crazy horror flick one day. A microwave that is cursed and kills you one month after you use it? I am in! Also, I really want to do something with my mom sometime. I keep trying to sneak her on to the television show I am doing now. I can’t think of a better way to say thanks for all the support than to put her out there with me!
17. Where can people go to check out some of your work?
If you search in Google or You Tube under my name in Japanese, the television show I am appearing in will come up. If you are interested, feel free to check it out: クリスマッコームス 五時に夢中. If you are in Tokyo you can watch it on Wednesday at 5pm!
Chris, I SINCERELY appreciate you taking the time to do an interview, it’s always a pleasure, dude. Talk to Chris! You can leave your comments below