If you haven’t heard of Tila Tequila (born Nguyen), she was born in Singapore, where her family emigrated from Vietnam after the Vietnam War. Her mother is half French descent, while her father is full Vietnamese. Her siblings are Daniel and Terri. When she was one year old, she and her family lived in a neighborhood in Houston until they were admitted to a gated community run by a strict Buddhist temple. The family left the community when Nguyen was eight.
While in middle school, Nguyen became a tomboy and was eventually sent to a boarding school for six months for her combative behavior before transferring to another school. While in high school, she used her sister’s identification card to enter nightclubs, where she began taking drugs and joined a gang. In her memoir, she would later explain that she felt “confused” and “lost” from various personal family and environmental issues and lost her virginity at 15. She turned to writing poems in an attempt to release powerful emotions, and friends outside the gang briefly helped turn her life around. However, her past caught up with her, and she fled to Queens, New York, at the age of 16. While still 16, she experienced a drive-by shooting in Houston. She reports having become pregnant and suffering a miscarriage the following year.
Nguyen graduated from Alief Hastings High School in 2000. She has cited the violent adolescence she had in Texas as her reason for becoming a model and moving to California in 2001. In a March 2003 interview, she revealed that she has taken some college classes but does not have a degree, stating, “I didn’t want to go to college for an actual degree because there’s nothing out there I like besides doing something that involves the entertainment industry.
Nguyen’s career began at the age of 18 when she was discovered at the Sharpstown Mall by a Playboy scout and was offered a chance to model nude for the magazine. She did a test shoot, then eventually moved to Southern California and was featured as Playboy’s Cyber Girl of the week on April 22, 2002, and soon thereafter she became the first Asian Cyber Girl of the Month. A few more pictorials for the magazine followed.
Nguyen gained further popularity through the import racing scene. She has been featured on the cover of Import Tuner magazine, at car shows such as Hot Import Nights, and in the video game Street Racing Syndicate. She was also the most frequent host on the first season of Fuse TV’s dance show, Pants-Off Dance-Off, on which a group of contestants strip to music videos.
Nguyen was featured on the cover of the April 2006 issue of Stuff magazine; in the interview, she claimed that her nickname “Tila Tequila” came about when she experimented with alcohol at the age of thirteen. She appeared on the August 2006 Maxim UK cover, was named #88 in their Hot 100 List, and also appeared in the December 2007 issue. She was ranked #100 on the Maxim Hot 100 list in 2008.
Nguyen made an appearance as one of the 12 strangers in the first game on the April 6, 2007 episode of NBC’s game show Identity. On March 4, 2007 she made a cameo appearance on the show “War At Home.”. She also appeared as a Hooters Girl in the 2007 film I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry.
Nguyen has been featured on the front page of magazines such as Penthouse, King, Blender, and most recently Steppin’ Out
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