Discovered by a newspaper photographer at the tender age of 14, 21-year old Brisbane born blonde bombshell, Brittaney Blanchard, gives us an insight into her life as an international model.
Q: Tell us a bit about yourself and your interests.
A: Ok, where to start! Well ever since I was little I have loved to travel. I took my first steps in San Jose California, USA, so I guess I got the travel bug from my family. Although I have travelled quite a bit, my home is definitely here in Australia.
My background is a mixture of French and Chinese from my father's side and Danish and English from my mum's side. I also have a fair amount of good old Aussie blood in me too, so I'm quite the mix.
As for my interests, I enjoy eating beautiful, healthy foods, cooking and sharing recipes with others and morning walks along our spectacular Gold Coast beaches (which is where I am currently based). I also love yoga and meditating for mind, body and soul. I’m a big believer of looking after the body, internally as well as externally and feeding my mind with healthy thoughts.
Q: When did you first decide to pursue modelling as a career?
A: When I was 14 a photographer who worked for the Sunday Mail spotted me in a shopping centre. He asked if he could shoot me for an article in the newspaper and then insisted on sending my photos to a modelling agency. That's basically how my career started.
Q: What agencies are you currently signed with?
A: My mother agency is Vivien’s Models in Sydney and Brisbane. I am also signed with Cosmopolitan in Osaka, Japan, Fashion Models in Milan, Italy, and Time Model Management in Zurich, Switzerland.
Q: What sort of modelling work do you do?
A: Modelling for me is made up of runway shows, editorials, campaigns and commercial shoots. I have walked the catwalks at a few fashions weeks, mostly Brisbane and Milan and once in Sydney.
One of my most memorable runway shows was for Vogue in Florence, Italy. I was flown to Florence for three nights to do showings. The clients were lovely to work with and treated all the models beautifully.
I've also enjoyed doing shoots with designer Sally Koeswanto for Harper’s Bazaar Indonesia, editorials for Gucci and Versace in Milan and another favourite of mine was shooting the campaign for Braccilini in Italy.
Q: To what exotic locations has modelling taken you?
A: Travelling is one of the biggest benefits of having a career as a model. I've travelled to Japan and Milan for shoots with short visits to New York, Paris and Turkey. Each of these destinations has their own unique charm and culture. I must say though, I particularly love Europe for its architecture, history, incredible food and fashion houses!
I had my first contract requiring me to travel to Japan when I was 15, so it was exciting experiencing such a different culture, especially with very little knowledge of their language! In Osaka, hardly anyone speaks English and, unlike Tokyo where they have signs in both English and Japanese, Osaka only has signs in Chinese and Japanese.
The culture in Japan is very different to Australia - the Japanese are mainly focused on work and money, whereas Australians are quite laid back!
Q: Tell us more about what it was like to work as a model in Japan and Italy.
A: In Japan, models are transported around to castings in a van with a translator and you can be cast for up to 10 hours a day. Modelling is also quite different in that you have to learn to pose the "Japanese" way.
Milan on the other hand is possibly even busier than Japan and you have to find your way around to your castings by yourself. When I first went there it was during fashion week castings and in winter. My mum accompanied me and we would leave our apartment as early as 6 am and get home sometimes as late as 9 or 10 pm. Not many of the locals speak English and we did get lost at times. It turned out to be a great way to get to know Milan; I can now navigate my way around the city on autopilot!
Q: Tell us about your favourite modelling assignment.
A: When I think about it, I have so many favourite modelling memories! However, one that stands out for me is getting flown to Turkey for shoots with one of the country's leading fashion houses and meeting their major textile manufacturers. Mum and I were flown over there in business class and we were treated like princesses. We flew into Istanbul first and then Ankara for a couple of days. The history, architecture and food in Turkey is amazing.
Q: Tell us about your most unusual modelling assignment.
A: At the first ever photo shoot I did in Japan, a client ask my permission to chop off half of my eyebrow! That was certainly an unexpected moment!
Q: The life of a model sounds glamorous, but just how glamorous is it?
A: What the public sees as glamorous is certainly not the reality behind the scenes. We are on the runway for only a few moments during catwalk shows and backstage is a different world altogether: running models, photographers taking backstage shots, being interviewed for various TV programs, long days of walking back and forth to castings and jobs, early morning starts and late finishes…the list goes on.
Don't get me wrong, I love what I do and there are certainly many perks having a career as a model. I get to travel the world and meet some amazing, creative people. All I am saying is that it is by no means an easy career! Not only do you have to work long hours, you are also limited from making long term plans, as you never know where you might be next. You are effectively "marketing" your body, and so there is a lot of pressure to keep in top physical shape.
As a model, you also need to develop the mental stamina to withstand rejection and not allow that to affect how you feel about yourself. It's akin to attending multiple job interviews every day and being rejected by most. Understanding that rejection is not necessarily about you and that the client is simply looking for a particular look to fulfil their brief is important for maintaining perspective.
In particular, Milan can be a tough market - the competition there is fierce. I have met many models who have arrived in Milan with high hopes, but left without being cast for a single modelling job. We mostly hear about the girls who make it, but for every one who does there are hundreds who don't. All are beautiful and equally as worthy; it is simply the nature of the industry! I guess you can compare being a professional model to being a professional athlete: there are those who make it to the Olympics and those who don't.
Having said all of this, when you walk down the runway in a glorious outfit, or see the result of an editorial shoot or campaign, it is a great feeling. It makes all the rejection and hard work worth it.
Q: Give us a rundown of what you do to prepare for a shoot.
A: First of all, I receive the call sheet from my agency, which will provide details about the client and job (including address, start and finish times and sometimes a brief about the look the client is going for and what you need to bring). Sometimes you don't need to bring much with you and other times you need to cart along quite a bit! Usually, you are asked to arrive with clean hair and no-makeup, but there might be the odd occasion when you are required to arrange your own hair and make-up for a show or shoots.
I also like to take along with me to shoots a packed lunch consisting of a healthy salad, pear and a handful of almonds to keep my hunger at bay.
Q: Describe what it feels like being behind the camera.
A: Being behind the camera is one of the greatest feelings! You get to play different roles and pull different poses and facial expressions. It is sometimes challenging, as you consistently have to be aware of the angles of your face and body and, depending on the clothes you are given, you need to be conscious of posing in ways that will present the garments you are wearing in their most favourable light.
Q: How do you feel about the pressure models receive from the media and the fashion industry to stay thin?
A: This is a controversial question and one I am glad you asked, as I am quite passionate about the subject.
There are definitely some "measurement "requirements to be a model, especially for certain overseas markets. Let's be honest, clothes do look great on thin girls. Models are clothes hangers to some degree and that is part of the job criteria. Particular designers require models to fit their clothes to make them look a certain way and you either accept this or you don't model.
However, not all models need to be thin. There is always the option of plus size modelling and some models can make a great career and a lot of money from this sector of the industry.
I personally don't believe in dieting to stay thin. To keep my body in good condition, I maintain a healthy balanced diet combined with regular exercise, meditating and positive affirmations. I used to be overweight before I began modelling and was bullied at school. If anything, modelling has improved my self-esteem, rather than destroy it (unlike the media would have everyone believe).
I am not convinced that the modelling industry is the cause of eating disorders. Girls who develop these disorders have major self-esteem issues to begin with and the fact that they don't feel good about themselves is what needs to be addressed. Taking away pictures of pretty slim girls won't make them feel better. I have used such pictures to create a healthier and happier me.
Ultimately, it's all about a girl's attitude and self-belief and this is what we should be focusing on, rather than the "thinness" of their bodies. Many models are unfairly targeted and bullied for being thin and this is equally soul destroying as criticising someone for being overweight.
Q: What do you enjoy doing in your down time?
A: I love to cook, go for a beach walk, watch a good movie or explore and discover different locations - I am amazed by nature! Sewing is one of my latest pastimes. At present, I also spend a lot of my spare time working on a new venture called "Models Club Online", which has been set-up to showcase the different creative industries that comprise the modelling industry. This is a very exciting venture for me because I am not aware of any other source which provides young people with access to such valuable industry information.
Q: If you weren’t a model, what type of work would you be doing?
A: I think I would have pursued a career in the health and nutrition field or in one of the creative fields. Right now though, I can't imagine myself doing anything other than modelling. I love it!
Q: Describe your personal style. What would we find you wearing when not dressed up for a shoot?
A: I love feeling feminine, so dressing elegantly is my main style. I do sometimes enjoy dressing a bit "grunge" and chilled like a tomboy. When I'm at the beach or home, I often wear comfortable shorts with a big oversized t-shirt!
Q: Name some of your favourite fashion labels.
A: There are so many! To name a few: Christian Dior, Chanel, Gucci, Elie Saab, Marc Jacobs and, here at home, Alex Perry, Akira, Camilla, Lisa Ho, Gail Sorronda and Bowie.
Q: Who’s celebrity style do you envy most?
A: I wouldn't say I envy any celebrity's style, but I do adore Miranda Kerr's beautiful, stylish appearance when she is walking the streets of Manhattan!
Q: What are three things you couldn’t live without?
A: A big bottle of water, my phone and tasty but healthy food!
Q: What music are you currently listening to?
A: I'm loving Phil Hancock's 'Castle In The Air'. His latest EP just came out on iTunes. I'm also listening to Ed Sheeran - Small Bump and Birdy - Skinny Love.
Q: What books are you currently reading?
A: "Wishes Fulfilled" by Dr Wayne Dyer, "The Secret" and "The Power of Now" by Eckhart Tolle.
Q: What advice can you give aspiring models?
A: Dream big, believe in yourself and love your life! A goal can never be too big! If you really want a career in modelling, then keep going, don't take rejection personally and find an agent that not only believes in you, but one that communicates clearly and works with you to achieve your goals. Never be afraid to speak up for what you want, as agents are not mind readers and they earn their money from you earning money. Make sure you also remain grounded and respect everyone around you. You are the same and equal to everyone else, so put your ego away if it tries to rear its ugly head!
Q: Next up?
A: More modelling and starting a creative revolution around the world with "Models Club Online"! I'm passionate about assisting people to discover their creative passions; it's my goal to help people achieve this!
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