Whether or not you’re familiar with Bright Vachirawit Chivaaree, the 24-year-old Thai superstar, who is Burberry’s latest brand ambassador (the first for the South Asia Pacific region), has already etched his name in millions of hearts across the world. And yes, the star we’re photographing for Harper’s BAZAAR Singapore’s cover shoot in Bangkok is as dazzling as his name. “We’re blinded by his brightness!” quips Creative Director Windy Aulia. “It’s his royal brightness!” The puns know no end.
The man in question doesn’t seem to mind our excitement. Usually going by just his nickname, Bright rose to international stardom during the peak of 2020 lockdown with the Thai drama 2gether: The Series, alongside co-star Metawin Opas-iamkajorn. They quickly became the talk of the town and are credited with bringing into the mainstream a new perspective to the boys’ love genre.
“It was good timing,” says Bright when asked of his breakthrough role. “2gether was aired during the first wave of the pandemic and it was a kind of comfort for people in distress. It gave many people happiness and something to look forward to. It’s light-hearted and easy to watch. It’s a rom-com in which both leads happen to be male. Even people who are unfamiliar with the genre find it enjoyable.”
Yet nothing prepared the young actor for what was to come. While Bright was already acquainted with showbiz well before the series—he has appeared in teenage variety shows, commercials, music videos and dramas since 2013—he was oblivious to the impact of his growing fame. As his surge to stardom took place during the lockdown where in-person gatherings and events were prohibited, the celebrity had little inkling how the stratospheric spike in his social media following would translate into real-life frenzy once the restrictions eased.
“Of course I saw the numbers [on social media] shooting up but I went to work normally during that time of Covid-19. I didn’t go out in public; no one did back then. But after attending some events, I started to see lots and lots of people. It was perplexing and there was a period when I was quite overwhelmed. I was nervous and didn’t know how to handle it. But after a couple of months, I got used to it and even started to enjoy it.”
With 15.9 million followers on Instagram, and 4.2 million followers on Twitter to date, it’s no wonder screams and cheers greet him wherever he goes. His work gets multi-million views on YouTube, he is inundated with gifts from fans, and his birthdays are a monumental annual event, with fan-led celebratory projects—such as the LED screen takeovers in Bangkok and Shinjuku, Tokyo—happening across Asia, including China and South Korea. The star is also active in fan organised activities, especially when they are for charitable causes, and has donated his photographic works for auctions.
But what he’s most grateful for are his fans’ ardent wishes for his well-being. “What makes me happiest is when my fans say that I can be whatever I want to be or do whatever I want to do as long as I’m happy; that’s all they want. I don’t need my fans to buy me gifts or ramp up the views on my YouTube videos. I only want them to be happy, like how they want me to be happy. It’s a beautiful relationship; I’m so touched by it.”
Still, with fame comes detractors. He admits that though he is now able to take it in his stride, he was affected by the online negativity at the beginning. “It can be a good thing when someone dislikes me because they point out parts they don’t like about me, or my mistakes. Sometimes, they can be quite right; some offer really good advice. But for comments that are not constructive, I just mute them,” he says with a laugh. “There’s nothing I can do about it so instead of trying to control things that cannot be controlled, I choose to look at it from a different perspective: Bad comments are better than no comments. At least I know they see me. Maybe someday, they will like me.”
“Be happy” is Bright’s current mantra and he strives to achieve that in whatever he does—be it working on his sustainable fashion label Astro Stuffs, or starring in shows like F4 Thailand: Boys Over Flowers or Astrophile, a drama series that sees him working alongside another Thai superstar, Davika Hoorne.
If acting is his endeavour to be someone else, music is where he expresses who he really is—he lights up when the conversation revolves around the subject. His uncle runs a music school where Bright learnt to play the guitars, bass, drums and keyboards at an early age. He had always been “a boy in the band” from the time he was in secondary school to his university days. Which explains why he has been so focused on ensuring that his first English single “Lost and Found” from his upcoming mini-album (slated to to drop at the end of this year), is one that he is truly happy with.
“F4 is the biggest project in my life. I watched the original Taiwanese version when I was young and my entire family loved it. I am honoured to be a part of it. As for Astrophile, it’s a whole new experience as I take on a more grown-up role. I learned a lot from Davika and improved my skills with this project. It’s like I have levelled up.”
“I spend my days off working on it. I’m involved in everything. It’s my first album so I want it to reflect who I am,” he explains. “As I’m working with a team I’ve never worked with before, I want to make sure they know what I like and don’t like in terms of visuals, colours, costumes, art direction or music genres. We are at a crucial stage but once everyone is on the same page, I don’t think I’ll need to be in every process anymore.”
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His dedication extends to all aspects of his career. Bright does not hesitate to share his ideas during the photo shoot and he brings a collaborative spirit to the table. It’s clear that he takes whatever he does quite seriously, not least with his role as Burberry’s ambassador.
“I have been working with Burberry for a long time. Their classic but contemporary style resonates with me, especially their trench coats. I love outdoor style, like camping outfits with lots of pockets, and Burberry is a superior, functional brand.” Despite his affinity for the brand, he does have his concerns. “I’m happy to represent their clothes but I cannot say I’m fully confident taking on the role of ambassador. I’m wondering if I’m really ready for this as there are duties that the role encompasses—like representing the brand, projecting the brand’s character, or speaking English in meetings or interviews with international media. I’ve been working on improving my English in order to be able to work better for the brand.”
But for now, Bright is prepping for a long overdue Asian tour to meet his fans in Indonesia, Philippines, Taiwan, Hong Kong, South Korea, Japan and Singapore. “I would like to consider myself an artiste who is not restricted to acting or music. I try to choose work that I’m happy doing—to express myself with my whole heart and soul. I want to have this feeling in every project I do because I know that it will bring good results.”
Photographed by John Tods
Styled by Windy Aulia
Makeup: Pornpichit Khumngen
Hair: Thanupol Phoothepamornkul
Photographer’s assistants: Wanlop Banchuen; Audomsak Aemausin; Narong Tharveeyart
Stylist’s assistant: Prueksapak Chorsakul
Videography and editing: Au Tammarat
Video camera assistants: Passapon Khemmanipitpon, Kornthanat Pipat, Nitipoom Koon