Maria Kalinina, a Russian-French woman living in Ho Chi Minh City is an MC, actress, model, and writer. She now hopes to bring her energy, enthusiasm, and love for Vietnam to the country’s theater stages.
Maria Kalinina, better known as Micka Chu, has spent the last four years in Vietnam dabbling her feet into various parts of the country’s entertainment scene.
Though she currently makes her living as an MC, actress, model, and writer, it’s her fluency in Vietnamese and covers of Vietnamese pop singer Son Tung M-TP’s hit songs that have made her famous in the country.
Accidently in love
According to Kalinina, it was fate that first brought her to Vietnam.
After she finished a two-year acting course in France, she decided to travel through Asia. Vietnam was merely a name on her list of places to visit, but she fell in love the moment she entered the country.
Vietnam is a healthy blend of both French and Russian cultures, Chu said, elaborating that Vietnamese and Russian cultures both emphasize the importance of family values while Vietnamese and French women both understand the importance of politeness and diplomacy in daily conversation.
Though Kalinina’s mother was originally apprehensive about her daughter’s decision to move to Vietnam, she knew deep down everything would be alright.
Now, four years and two visits later, she’s convinced the Southeast Asian country is a perfect fit for Kalinina’s personality.
The stage, the language, the costume
Though gifted in many areas, Kalinina says she’s most interested in theater and has a dream of one day performing on Vietnam’s stages.
To prepare, she’s enrolled in a Vietnamese language course at the Ho Chi Minh City University of Social Sciences and Humanities and studies with a private tutor three nights a week.
She even spends her free time reading Vietnamese children’s novels for extra practice.
In her work life, she does her best to take advantage of any opportunity that allows her to interact in Vietnamese in a professional setting.
Kalinina’s love for the Vietnamese language is driven by her love of Vietnamese culture.
In her short time in the country, she’s visited northern, central, and southern Vietnam, visiting numerous provinces in each of these major regions.
At each new destination, she does her best to understand and experience the local way of life.
She is fond of 'ao dai' -- the country’s traditional dress -- and loves having the opportunity to wear it on television.
One of her favorite moments was during the 2020 Lunar New Year holiday when she was given the chance to wear ao dai as well as 'ao ba ba' -- traditional Vietnamese clothing from the country’s south -- on national television.
To Kalinina, life in Vietnam isn’t much different from that of the locals. Her days are spent dealing with the country’s frenzy of traffic and she even participates in local traditions, such as strolling Nguyen Hue Street in ao dai during the Lunar New Year.
“Nothing worries me now. Life here is so happy,” she said.
|Micka Chu (second right) appears on the television show 'Thank God You're Here' on Vietnamese national television in this supplied photo.|
Kalinina’s skills aren’t limited to entertainment. She also has a gift for languages, highlighted by her ability to speak French, Russian, English, Vietnamese, and some Spanish.
She even taught French when she first came to Vietnam.
Between her TV gigs and other events, Kalinina still manages to find the time to attend her Vietnamese classes.
Her desire to cover pop songs by Son Tung M-TP, a household name in Vietnam, was her motivation to learn Vietnamese, she says.
She also screen-writes for locally produced films, including the recently completed 'Hesitation.'