"As a university student, I never even imagined that I could be an actor. Because, to me, they only existed on screen," says Yuki Furukawa.

Now a well-established actor, Furukawa is largely known for his portrayal of Naoki Irie in "Mischievous Kiss: Love in Tokyo," a television series based on Kaoru Tada's romantic comedy manga series "Itazura na Kiss," which aired in 2013. His portrayal of Naoki — a cocky, smart and charming high school student — won the hearts of many girls, gaining him an army of fans across Asia.

"I would have never pursued acting if I hadn't had an amazing opportunity," Furukawa says, referring to an event organized by HoriPro, one of the biggest entertainment agencies in Japan, as part of its 50th anniversary celebrations in 2010. Involving 10 "Mister Campus" (good-looking and talented male students at universities in Japan) contestants, the event was an audition to discover potential actors. Furukawa, who was selected as Mister Keio at his now alma mater Keio University, was invited to the contest and won a Special Recognition Award.