Her face has been on billboards and film and TV screens for the best part of 25 years but it comes as a surprise to discover that 38-year-old Cherry Khemupsorn Sirisukha has always been a reluctant star. The third child of Lt Gen Yutthana Sirisukha and Niramit, a member of the royal family of Nan, began her career in her mid-teens after being talent spotted by a local modeling agency but says her abiding early interest was to study architecture at university.
Cherry did eventually graduate from Thammasat with a degree in sociology and anthropology and although she continued to further her acting career, she acknowledges that a role in philanthropy or environmental and social activism was never far from her thoughts.
“Reading sociology made me realise that changes in society could be made from the household level and I wanted to be part of that change.”
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She describes the period following her graduation as intense for two reasons: “In the first place people started viewing me as a celebrity—as a star. To be honest, it made me feel uncomfortable but at the same time I knew it was an aspect of my career that I had to accept and learn to deal with,” she explains. It was also during this period that her mother passed away, a seminal event that changed her perspective on life. “I was 21 and felt lost. As a way of coping with feelings of grief I began studying the core tenets of Buddhism. I read books on dharma, which eventually led to taking up meditation.”
“I was 21 and felt lost."
Meditating helped Cherry in another way. “It led to increased self-awareness, which made me want to understand the characters I was playing more deeply. For instance, in my latest television series, Krating, there were scenes where I could physically feel the character’s emotion—my heart was pounding and I could feel this heat building up inside me. However, I also use meditation to cleanse my mind of any negativity.”
Losing her mother also caused Cherry to re-evaluate her professional and private priorities, prompting her to be more selective in the work she took on so that she could spend more time with her family. “Because I started acting at a very young age, there were times when I didn’t want to turn down a role because I felt it would be rude. But in the years following my mother’s passing, more and more I came to realise that at the end of the day I am the only person who has to live with the consequence of the choices I make.” Being hard-nosed about work may have resulted in fewer offers but it was a consequence she was willing to accept. “I simply stopped worrying about other people’s expectations,” she says.
With more time to herself Cherry finally turned to those philanthropic pursuits she aspired to as a youngster, following a stint in business as a partner at multi-label store Cloud9. She is now dedicated to Little Help and Little Forest—privately run initiatives that provide assistance to people impacted by natural disasters and environmental conservation issues.
“Little Help started following catastrophic floods in Nepal in 2015. Roj Singhakul of the clothing brand Issue invited me to participate and I found the hands-on experience very fulfilling. After Nepal we decided to work on a more local level, fighting drought in the north of Thailand, and so Little Forest happened. To date, with the help of local organisations, Kasetsart University and the Forest Industry Organisation, we have built three fai (irrigation systems). ”
Little Forest also aims to raise environment awareness amongst local communities for a more sustainable future.
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