Own The City: Chine Thybaud
The model, actress and budding filmmaker talks about growing up in Paris’ vibrant Marais neighborhood and playing football with the boys.
Words: Kate Matthams Spencer
Chine Thybaud grew up in the cultural heart of Paris, the Marais, so it’s no surprise that she thrives at the intersection of various creative mediums. In addition to studying for a Master’s degree, modelling, acting and consulting for sports and fashion brands, Chine is taking her first steps in filmmaking.
Although Chine is now based in Copenhagen, Paris will always be her home — an ever-evolving backdrop that has grown and changed as much as she has throughout the years. Chine grew up frequenting the city’s museums and galleries and partaking in its vibrant fashion and music scenes. While absorbing the creativity in her neighborhood, she realized that she could document its energy into film and music videos.
For Chine, film is also a way to honor Paris’ unique mix of street and sport culture. She is a passionate football supporter, and says that playing sports with the boys was a key part of her youth. She believes that girls should be introduced to football from a young age, so they can gain the same social and cultural benefits from kicking a ball around as their male counterparts. Wherever you’re from in Paris, football is undoubtedly “the glue” that brings everyone together.
How do you think your neighborhood has shaped who you are?
The Marais feels like a small village. The first time I left, I was 13. We are privileged to live here, because it’s both safe and multicultural. I grew up going to public schools. The Marais is a mix of everything, and I love it.
Now you’re a model, an actress and you’re studying, as well. What does the future look like for you?
I’m studying for my Master’s degree in public policy. I want to be a director, but I’d like to get my degree first. I’m taking all opportunities that present themselves and trying to gain experience in everything. I’ve loved hip-hop culture since I was a kid, and I want to direct music videos, too.
Would you say that modelling takes up the majority of your time, or do you work behind the camera more?
I used to be more in front of the camera, but I really want to work behind it. The more I can do, the better. Sometimes, I just say “yes” to stuff. That’s how I came to star in a movie. I never took a drama class in my life, but a French director asked me to play a part in her film. It was a six-week shoot, and I just loved the whole experience. It really cemented for me that I want to work in film.
What sort of mindset do you take on set with you?
I just want to have fun. Today, I got to runway walk and smile at people. It was cool! Everybody was happy and easy-going.
What did Jordan Brand mean to you while you were growing up?
One time, we were visiting my uncle in Los Angeles. He was a DJ, and I had seen a pair of Jordans in a music video. I was with my aunt on Melrose Boulevard, and we went into a store that had the exact same pair, a red Air Jordan V. Those were the first sneakers I ever bought. I was so proud. I was like, “Don’t touch my Jordans!” I still have them.
“I was the only one playing football with the boys. That really helped me.”
What does Paris represent to you?
It’s so special. Young people in Paris look up to the U.S. and London, but we’re so happy to have grown up here. The city is so beautiful and diverse, and there’s still so much to discover. The French spirit is concentrated here, in pavement cafes, having dinner and drinking wine. We really take time for this, because it’s important.
Do you carry that French lifestyle with you outside of Paris?
I’ve grown up with the city, but my neighborhood has changed so much. That’s quite French, actually. Parisians evolve a lot with their city. In Balzac’s novels, the city is a character in itself; it’s alive.
As another part of the city’s persona, how have PSG and football culture influenced you?
Football was really important to me as a kid, whether I was playing it or seeing it in film and TV. Whenever we lose, it breaks my heart. At university, I was on the football team, too. Sport is the original social media; it’s a way to meet people.
In France, we say that football is the sport of the people, because everyone can play. Girls should be encouraged to play when they’re young. Bring them into the game early, so they get as good as the boys. If you ask a girl to play when she’s 13, she may not want to. I was the only one playing football with the boys. That really helped me.
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