Left to right: Mariah, Jade and Joelle Tang
Photography by Ashley Champagne; Styling by Erin Monaghan; Makeup by Nickol Walkemeyer; Hair by Lauren Hughes of Mousy Browns. Shot on location at Duke’s Diner
The Tang triplets have been making headlines since the day they were born: Christmas Day, 1990. Joelle, Jade and Mariah Tang were the first set of natural triplets born in Edmonton in 25 years, an occasion the City marked by providing a live-in nanny for one year.
Today the Tangs are still getting attention, with various modelling and acting credits to their names. Since graduating from J. Percy Page High School in 2008, they’ve modelled, together and apart, in Canada and Asia. Joelle and Jade played Mutant Twin No. 1 and Mutant Twin No. 2, respectively, in an X-Men movie and shared a fashion spread in Elle Hong Kong. Mariah, who spent some time on her own in Asia, modelled in Shanghai and Bangkok.
And while the 21-year-olds of Ukrainian and Chinese heritage may look identical – sharing delicate features and slim frames (though, interestingly enough, not heights) – don’t mistake the Tangs for replicas. “I wanted to make sure that they developed their own individuality,” says their mom, Kim Tang, who was just 18 when she had them.
It worked. Despite their identical genes and a habit of finishing one another’s sentences, the sisters’ distinct personalities are apparent within minutes of meeting them.
But those differences weren’t always so obvious. The travels and solo experiences that came with modelling helped Jade, Joelle and Mariah each discover her own individuality. The oldest triplet, Joelle, describes herself as the “shy, weird one,” while Jade, who is less than one minute younger, is “goofy and easygoing.” Mariah, the youngest, is the social butterfly.
Now comfortable with their similarities, and differences, it’s likely we’ll be seeing a lot more of these three – apart.
Did people mix up who’s who when you were children?
Mariah: When we were babies, we were sometimes dressed the same, but in different colours.
We had a colour code.
Were you in the same classes in school?
Mariah: No, the principal put us in different classes. It was two in one class and the other in
a separate, but we’d switch off every year.
Jade: But outside of class, we always still stuck in our little triplet crew.
Joelle: We were glued together.
Mariah: I hated being the one who was left out, in a class all by herself. We all hated being that one.
What is it like being known as “the triplets?”
Jade: I used to be bothered by it. I used to say, “We have names,” but now I’m OK that we’re known as the triplets. Yes we’re the triplets, but I’m still Jade.
Was it a struggle to feel like an individual growing up?
Mariah: Yes. I had to go to Asia to find myself. I had to part myself from Jade and Joelle so, when I was 17, I went over there to model and I grew up without them. I mean, we were so close that we used to go to the washroom together.
Jade: Mariah left and then Joelle and I got really jealous that she found herself.
Joelle: Yeah, I was like, ‘Oh, she found herself. I want to go out there. I want to be individual.’ Then Jade and I both went to Asia.
Jade: Yes, we went together. [laughs] We met up with Mariah, but we also went to be independent.
How did you start modelling?
Mariah: I was scouted when I was 14 in Southgate Centre by an agency – twice actually. I told her I was a triplet and she was like, “Oh, my God. I want to sign you right now.” I didn’t think of doing it at all but my mom said, “Try it once. Always try something once. Try it, and if you don’t like it, at least you did it.” So we did it. We tried it once and loved it.
Jade: I didn’t want to do it. It’s funny because I like modelling now and I started a modelling agency. But when I was younger, I had no confidence whatsoever. None of us did.
What is it that you enjoy about modelling?
Mariah: It’s a passion for me. I just think it’s fun, and there are lots of opportunities for travelling. It’s also a big rush.
Jade: I like meeting designers, and the feeling you get after you see your tear sheet.
Joelle: I just like the outcome. I hate standing there in one pose for a long time but then, after, you see the photos and are like, “Ohhhh.”
Jade, tell us about running your own modelling agency.
Jade: I love it. I started the agency here in Edmonton last year and it operates in Las Vegas as well. We have about 24 models and are still scouting.
Mariah: You see a lot from other agencies when you go overseas, you watch and learn and take it in and soak it up like a sponge – that’s what she did.
How did you get the gig in X-Men Origins: Wolverine?
Jade: We answered a casting call for X-Men on Facebook. They wanted all three of us, but unfortunately Mariah was in Asia and couldn’t break her modelling contract. Joelle and I ended up going to Vancouver and filming it.
Do you have your own style?
Jade: We all tend to dress up, and like to wear a little bit of everything. I’m the one who tends to rock out.
Mariah: I have a tomboyish look. I’d describe it as very urban, very hipster.
Jade: On weekends when we go all out we’re very glam. We’ve got our dresses and big heels.
Joelle: I like ripped jeans and a more laid-back look.
Jade: Joelle wears pastel colours, and a lot of girly graphic-Ts.
Where do you like to shop?
Jade: Everywhere, especially Forever 21.
Joelle: I like Holt Renfrew – I’m more of a brand girl. I really like Steve Madden.
Are you ever envious of each other’s clothes and style?
Jade: I used to always take Mariah’s style. When she came back from Asia, her style completely changed. Then, when we came back from Hong Kong, our styles changed.
Mariah: You see different things when you go overseas. We also like to start styles.
Jade: We’re trendsetters, I think.
Mariah: We fought over our clothing in high school. There was a lot of stealing of each other’s clothes.
Joelle: Then when Jade and I were in Hong Kong, we shared clothes because our apartment had a very small closet.
What’s your favourite piece of clothing in your closet right now?
Mariah: My beanie. I love my hat.
Jade: She’s so obsessed with them right now. My favourite piece? I don’t know, I have so many.
Mariah: You like your boots and high socks right now. Joelle likes her headpiece, her head jewellery.
Joelle: It’s called head chains.
Mariah: Other than my beanie I also like baggy things, like side shirts.
What look would you wear for a cocktail party this holiday season?
Mariah: I like vibrant colours right now. If I was going to a cocktail party, I wouldn’t go for a black dress; I’d go for a nice burgundy red dress.
Joelle: I like champagne pink or white.
Mariah: I can’t do pink.
Jade: I go for anything that looks good on me. If it’s black it’ll have some detail in it. I don’t like plain dresses.
What would you wear for accessories?
Jade: It depends on your dress. You have to get your dress, then your heels, then your accessories, then you can match it all.
Mariah: I find accessories always make your outfit.
Mariah: Anything salty
Joelle: Anything salty
Mariah: Crme brle
Joelle: Red velvet cupcakes
Jade: Chocolate cake
Place to Shop
Joelle: Online or Topshop
Jade: In Las Vegas
Mariah: Nello’s Fine Italian Dining
Joelle: Vons Steakhouse & Oyster Bar
Jade: Anywhere there’s food
About the Interviewers
There’s a lot Annalise and Cailynn Klingbeil have in common, from careers in journalism to a love of the great outdoors to a birthdate. Identical twins born a whopping 21 minutes apart, the Klingbeils have not been making headlines since birth. Rather, they’ve been writing the headlines, since back-to-back internships at the Calgary Herald in 2008.