It’s long overdue but Asians are winning big and getting recognized on the global stage – cue Parasite, Bong Joon Ho, CLOY, and Chloe Zhang. With the help of streaming and social media giants such as Netflix, Youtube, and Instagram, more people worldwide are being introduced to the pool of creative talent that Asian artists have to offer, pushing more diversity onto the screens in front of us.
But it’s not just the usual K-Pop shows and entertainment that have been gaining attention — Thai entertainment has, too!
We take a look at some of the most influential Thai artists making big names for themselves and their country.
Nattawut “Baz” Poonpiriya
The mastermind behind the record-breaking, award-winning and critically acclaimed 2017 film Bad Genius, 40-year-old Thai director Baz started his career working extensively on television commercials and music videos before his recognition in films. Growing up, this movie-fanatic-turned-award-winning-director was a fan of Martin Scorsese and films of the 70s and 80s. He graduated with a Master of Fine Arts in stage directing from Srinakharinwirot University, and graphic design from the Pratt Institute.
Baz’s big break was famously his Thai heist thriller film Bad Genius (2017), about high-school students cheating in university exams. The film exposes the excessive pressure kids face on their way to success. Bad Genius went on to break box-office records both in Thailand and Asia, as well as winning big at the 2017 Asian Film Awards, New York Asian Film Festival, Toronto Reel Asian International Film Festival, Fukuoka International Film Festival and more.
Baz is also the creative force behind Countdown (2012) and the 2021 Thai-language drama film On The Road, produced by legendary Hong Kong director Wong Kar Wai.
Lalisa “Lisa” Manoban
Who is not talking about one of the most famous Thai pop stars who’s ever lived?! Originally from Buri Ram, Thailand, Lalisa “Lisa” Manoban is a rapper, singer, dancer, and model based in South Korea and a member of the popular girl-group BLACKPINK under YG Entertainment.
Known for her magnetic stage presence and dancing style, at just 24 years old Lisa is one of the most influential stars in K-Pop history. As of 2017, Lisa became the most-followed K-Pop idol in the world. She has 52.2 million followers in Instagram, and has A-list stars Justin Bieber, Dua Lipa, Jaden Smith, Halsey, and Pharrel Williams among her fanbase.
On top of that, the rapper is also the first K-Pop idol to become a Global Brand Ambassador for MAC Cosmetics. She also represents luxury-fashion house CELINE, and has often been cited as one of the most influential K-Pop artists of our time.
Chicha “Kitty” Amatayakul
Just a smirk and she can chill you to the bone. Thai actress, model, and singer Chicha “Kitty” Amatayakul, 27, started off as a member of the teen girl-group Kiss Me Five before gaining national and international stardom for her portrayal of the clever and enigmatic high-school transferee, Nanno, in the Thai fantasy thriller series Girl From Nowhere on Netflix.
Since the second season premiered on May 7, Girl From Nowhere and Nanno are topping Netflix charts around the world, including in Hong Kong, Vietnam, Taiwan, Brazil and the United States.
Kitty has amassed more than 2.1 million followers on Instagram, including British heartthrob Harry Styles. She also stars in the BBC/Netflix series The Serpent and high-school series Sia Dai (“Regrets”).
You can catch Kitty in Girl From Nowhere, here.
Viphurit “Phum” Siritip
No one could fail to recognize this soft, crooning voice. Thai singer-songwriter Viphurit “Phum” Siritip first gained international fame for his hit single Lover Boy, which he wrote and composed himself.
Since then the 25-year-old’s rise has been unstoppable. Following the success of Lover Boy, the versatile crooner went on to release Hello, Anxiety; Softly Spoken, and Wings — to increasing international acclaim. Phum has toured all over the country and abroad, and is also a household name in Japan and South Korea.
The artist has also collaborated with Asian American mass media company 88rising, releasing the hit Midsummer Madness back in 2018, featuring Joji, Rich Brian, and NIKI.
Check out our interview with Phum here: Catching up with Phum Viphurit
Danupha “MILLI” Khanatheerakul
The youngest but sassiest of the list. At just 18 years of age, rapper and singer MILLI has already made her mark in the Thai entertainment industry with the release of her two hit singles Phak Khon and Sud Pang, which have collected more than 120 million views on YouTube.
Known for her confidence, style, and fast-flowing rap, MILLI grew up loving hip-hop in a Thai all-girls school and cites Nicki Minaj as her artistic inspiration. She began her career at just 16, competing in the Thai TV show The Rapper 2.
MILLI is currently signed under the South-East Asian label YUPP! And is already in talks to collaborate and work with 88rising, under the invitation of founder Sean Miyashiro. Spanning genres, the fiery rapper has garnered fans throughout the industry, as well as in the feminist and LGBTQ community for her empowering music.
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