“After I got married in 2007, I changed my middle name to be my maiden name, so my full name is now Metinee Kingpayome Sharples,” she explains at the start of our recent interview at Thanyapura.
The famous beauty queen, actress, model, video jockey and presenter is known by her fans as Lukkade (“raisin” in Thai), or as Kathy to her close friends and family.
Raised in Queens, New York City, she admits that she “wasn't always the best daughter in the world” during the first 20 years of life in the rough NYC borough, often glorified in hip hop for its street and gang culture.
“Both of my parents are Thai. They emigrated to the US in the early 70s. An air steward, my dad went first, and my mom followed when she was eight months pregnant with me... Both worked odds and ends to make ends meet to raise me and my three younger brothers Kris, Mike and Mark. I've always been close with my siblings, especially after our parents got divorced.”
It was Metinee who first decided to jump on a plane and return to her roots in Thailand.
“I had just finished a semester in college, and decided to take a break and come to Thailand for a semester, to try some modeling... I arrived on my 20th birthday,” she recalls.
Her ‘break’ soon became indefinite and the rest as they say, is history. That first year back, Metinee went on to compete in and win the prestigious Miss Thailand World pageant, before going on to be crowned “Continental Queen of Asia & Oceania” at the international finals.
Over the years, she's starred in dozens of TV dramas and motion picture films, and featured on countless more magazine covers.
The proud mother of Skye Kingpayome Sharples, who just turned seven this month, Metinee values family.
“I met Skye's dad, my husband, Edward Sharples, when I was a VJ for Channel V in 1996. We didn't really get along back then. I was young and he was my boss,” she laughs.
Their son, Skye, is the main reason they chose to make a home in Phuket, or Phang Nga, to be precise.
“When I was pregnant, we came down to visit a friend who had a villa on Natai Beach in Khok Kloi. We fell in love with the area and decided to look for some land.”
They eventually found their tiny piece of paradise and began building their holiday home, naming it “White Skies” after a white house Edward owned in London, which he sold in order to fund construction of the new house.
“We didn't intend to live there initially, just rent it out, or use it for vacations and eventually retirement,” Metinee explains.
Crowded Bangkok proved to be less than ideal for a healthy and active family lifestyle.
“For kindergarten Skye went to a good school with a Singaporean curriculum, but we found ourselves spending a lot of time commuting, even on the weekend.”
Then during one weekend outing at Lumpini Park, “Skye turned to me after only 10 minutes on the bike and said 'That's it, mommy I'm done. I'm too lazy to ride anymore.”
Soon thereafter, White Skies was finished, and during a family holiday, Metinee and Edward observed how much more happier and active Skye was down in the South, away from the city.
“So we said, let's do it, let's move. We started surveying schools and came to Phuket International Academy (PIA) in a tiny soi between rubber trees and mountains, with all the facilities. Ed fell in love from beginning...”
Since making the move in August of last year, Metinee reports that her son is the happiest he's ever been.
“In only 10 months, the transformation is clear, from that little skinny kid throwing his bike down in the park, to a kid with muscles on the swim team and wanting to do triathlon training twice a week.
“He's so lucky to have all this and we're glad we made the move. In addition, we are absolutely thrilled to learn that PIA is soon to become the UWC [United World College] of Thailand this August.”
The commuting is not over forMetinee, who maintains a rigorous weekly schedule that sees her three days in Phuket and Phang Nga with the family, the rest of the week working in Bangkok.
“I just finished filming the soap 'Songkram Nang Ngam' or 'Beauty and the Bitches', Season 2, which airs on May 23, and I'm working on several other projects ...”
Despite such a demanding schedule, she refuses to hire a nanny, and chooses to play an active role in raising Skye.
“It can be tiring at times, but when I get to wake up and have breakfast with Ed and Skye in the morning, and make the short drive across the bridge to send him off to school, unwind in the pool or at a group yoga session, before joining the family back home, it's all worth it.”