by Theo Chapman
For expat entrepreneur Tan Le, founder of bioinfomatics company EMOTIV, 2018 is a special year. Le is one of 20 Australians whose portraits were commissioned to mark the 20th anniversary of the National Portrait Gallery in Canberra. It is also 20 years since Le was Young Australian of the Year.
“It’s quite symbolic for me,” Le says. “I’m 41 and I feel that I’m at the beginning of my peak, not the point where I’ve realised all the things that I want. The journey is still ahead of me.”
When she was first asked to sit for the portrait, Le was excited and a little overwhelmed.
“There was a range of mixed emotions,” she says. “I felt very humbled by the whole experience. I said to my husband, ‘Oh my gosh can you believe it!’ And I know I wasn’t supposed to tell many people, but I told my mum.”
Despite regular TV appearances and many corporate headshots, the experience of being photographed for a portrait was new to Le.
“[Before this] I didn’t realise how amazing people who are models are. You have to somehow conjure up feelings to have a certain expression on your face. The piece isn’t just about me, it’s really about the person behind the inventions,” she says.
Le’s company makes devices that monitor brain activity and is working on technology that can be controlled through the use of these devices.