Alexa Chung (born 5 November 1983) is a British TV presenter and fashion model.
Alexa Chung was raised in Privett, Hampshire by her English mother, a housewife, and her Chinese father, a graphic designer. She is a quarter Chinese. She is the youngest of four children and has two brothers and one sister.
She attended the local comprehensive school, Perins Community College, and later the sixth form Peter Symonds College, Winchester (2000-2002). She had been accepted by King’s College London to read English and by Chelsea College of Art and Design to do an art foundation course, with two ‘A’ grades (English and Art) and a ‘B’ (History) at A-level, before being scouted by a modelling agency.
Chung was first scouted by an agency, Elite Model Management, while attending The Clothes Show at the age of 14, but nothing came of it. She was approached again, in the comedy tent at Reading Festival, at the age of 16 and was taken on by the London-based Storm Model Management.
She modelled for teen magazines such as Elle Girl and CosmoGIRL! and appeared in adverts for products including Fanta, Sony Ericsson, Sunsilk and Tampax. She also modelled for Urban Outfitters.
She appeared in music videos for artists including The Streets, Westlife, Delta Goodrem, Reuben and Holly Valance. She also starred as Jake in a scripted reality show called Shoot Me, broadcast on Fashion TV in 2005. Chung herself admitted it was “really bad”.
After four years, Chung quit modelling with the intention of beginning an art foundation or fashion journalism course, having become disillusioned. She had developed a “distorted body image” and “low self-esteem” through modelling. “It made me really unhappy.” She has since said that, “I’ve used up all that neurosis – there’s none left. I’d rather have a bigger brain than smaller bones.”
In January 2008, Chung was announced as the face of Antipodium’s Spring Summer 2008 collection, which is on sale at Liberty and Harvey Nichols.
In May 2008, Chung was announced as the face of Oxfam’s ethical fashion range, Revamped, sold exclusively at Westbourne Grove, West London.
In September 2008, Chung walked the catwalk as part of the Vivienne Westwood Red Label Spring/Summer 2009 show at London Fashion Week.
In January 2009, she was announced as the face of British high street chain New Look. The campaign was shot by Matt Irwin. Also in early 2009, Chung joined London-based modelling agency, Select.
Chung first auditioned as a T4 presenter when she was 18 but “didn’t get anywhere because I was hideously Hampshire, going “Ya, ya”, and thinking I was really funny”.
When the original Popworld presenters, Miquita Oliver and Simon Amstell left in 2006, Chung’s audition tape was reviewed and, in April 2006, she was offered the job of co-host, alongside former MTV presenter Alex Zane. Popworld was known for its witty, irreverent and awkward style of interviews. An interview Chung conducted with Panic at the Disco, in particular, attracted attention. “I corrected singer Brendon Urie’s grammar halfway through and then it all went a bit cold. He got pi**ed off after that. The clip is on YouTube and about 10,000 American kids have left comments saying: ‘Oh my God, who does she think she is? I hate the English.’ Which is amusing.” The last show aired in July 2007, after Channel 4 decided not to recommission the programme.
Chung and Zane also presented a weekly, internet-streamed radio show called Popworld Radio from September 2006 to May 2007, in conjunction with the TV programme. The programme was awarded the Sony Radio Academy Award’s Bronze Music prize, who said it had “a style and tone of its own that encompasses rich content, insightful interviewing and original presentation.”
In April 2007, Chung starred in the ITV1 series Get a Grip, opposite comedian Ben Elton. The topical satirical show, scripted by Elton, was panned by television critics.
In August 2007, Chung signed a year-long “golden handcuffs” deal with Channel 4, worth £100,000. As part of this deal, she guest presented Big Brother’s Big Mouth, presented T4’s coverage of V Festival, T in the Park and T4 on the Beach and appeared as a panellist on quiz show 8 out of 10 Cats.
She hosts a number of T4 Movie Specials, 4Music Specials, along with T4 Holiday Mornings.
In September 2007, Chung began presenting Channel 4’s early morning music programme Freshly Squeezed, with alternating co-hosts Nick Grimshaw and Rick Edwards. The show airs on weekdays at 7am.
In December 2007, she was at number 18 in Broadcast’s Hot 100 Talent list.
In January 2008, Chung became one of four anchor T4 presenters, following the departure of June Sarpong.
Chung was the host of T4’s Vanity Lair, a ten-week reality show that aimed to explore contemporary notions of what being a beautiful person really means. When the show was mentioned in a later interview, “Chung raises her eyebrows, indicating embarrassment.”
She presented BBC Three’s The Wall which began in April 2008, along with Rhys Thomas. The eight-week live show featured comedy, sketches, chat and music performances.
Chung has also hosted industry events including the Hair Magazine Awards 2007, Diesel U Music Awards 2007 and the Elle Style Awards 2008.
Chung was the “roving reporter” on Channel 4’s eight-week fashion programme, “Gok’s Fashion Fix”. On the programme, Chung roadtested the latest fashion trends with members of the public, and interviewed fashion designers such as Roberto Cavalli, Karl Lagerfeld, Jean Paul Gaultier, Margherita Missoni and Christian Lacroix. She has described it as ‘pretty much my dream job’.
Chung also hosted a T4 music and fashion show called Frock Me!, with fashion designer Henry Holland.
In November 2008, it was reported that Chung was considering a move to New York to host a TRL-style show for MTV.