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In 1997, Aya Ueto participated in the 7th All-Japan National Young Beauty contest, where she received a special award from the judges. Her discovery led to many TV commercial deals, which eventually started her acting career.
In 1999, she formed the J-pop band Z-1 with Mami Nejiki, Mai Fujiya, and Manami Nishiwaki. They released five singles before breaking up, but Aya went on to start a solo career when she signed with Pony Canyon two years later. She released her first single, "Pureness," in 2002. It peaked at #4 on the Oricon charts and became the first female artist debut single in 3 years and 3 months to enter the Top 5 since Kyoko Fukada. Since then, she has released thirteen singles and six albums. Throughout her five year old solo musical career she has collaborated with the likes of Tetsuro Oda, RYOJI (from Ketsumeishi), Toshihiko Takamizawa (from The Alfee), Toko Furuuchi and Suguru Shimabukuro (from Begin).
Aya began her acting career in May 1999 in the movie "Killer of Paraiso". In 2000 she received her first role in a drama, Namida wo Fuite. In 2001, she played a part in Kinpachi-sensei, and her performance greatly boosted her popularity. She starred in several later dramas, including Koukou Kyoushi 2003, Hitonatsu no Papa e, and Ace o Nerae. She also ventured into the big screen in famed film director Ryuhei Kitamura's 2003 blockbuster Azumi and in its sequel, Azumi 2: Death or Love in 2005, where she played the title role in both.
She is often said to physically resemble Japanese star Momoe Yamaguchi and is widely regarded to be one of the biggest idols in Japan today. She is often mentioned as a "super idol". As of 2008, Aya Ueto remains ubiquitous in Japan, appearing constantly on magazines and in commercials. She is often called the 'low-rating idol', even on some news sites.
On January 28, 2008, SoftBank announced that they've collaborated with Tiffany & Co. in making a limited 10 model-only cellphone, which contains 537 platinum diamond, coming to the cost of more than 100,000,000 yen. Since Aya was the girl doing the commercial for SoftBank, she received a free phone. Eight were sold from 1 to 3 november, 2008.
On April 15, 2008, she was crowned CM Queen for a second time (the first being in 2004), raking in a significant 360 million yen for her 8 advertisement contracts.