Image by Alex Hutchinson

It is still pretty insane to me that it has been over ten years since my first foray into modelling.. Yep in model years I’m pretty ancient. I figured I should share the story of how I actually got into modelling in the first place. I am so lucky that I have been able to make a career out of something that I never even saw as a prospect for myself! I was definitely not a ‘pretty girl’ in school and I was not confident in my body growing up so it never even crossed my mind to be honest. I always loved watching America’s Next Top Model and reading magazines like most teenagers my age but I was extremely self conscious and shy. During my teenage years I used to have people make fun of my ‘chopstick legs’ so you can probably understand why I wasn’t fond of my tall and thin physique. I used to drink high calorie shakes to try to gain weight or I used to pour double cream into yogurt drinks for extra calories, in hopes of getting boobs and a bum. The reality was I have always had a really fast metabolism and being tall and slim is my natural build. I also had bad acne through secondary school which really affected my self esteem so I always prefered to be a wallflower than centre of attention. If you ask people I went to school with to describe me back then, they would probably say I was super quiet and sheepish. Even once I cleared up my skin using Roaccutane I still saw myself as the same girl and hid under lots of makeup for a long time.

My first ever professional photo shoot, shot by Agata Stoinska

I have my best friend to thank for my break into modelling because she saw something I didn’t and entered me into a contest to be signed with a local agency. She forced me to go, when I was called to audition and much to my disbelief I ended up winning and being signed. I still remember my first ever photoshoot for my portfolio and being so horrified that the makeup artist didn’t use any foundation as they wanted a natural look. I was SO terrified and self conscious but looking back that shoot was my first step outside my comfort zone and the start of me coming out of my shell. I was in university at the time so I did the odd fashion show or press call photoshoot here and there on the side, and as exciting as it was I still had a lot of self doubt about whether I was good enough.

I had to assume a fake it til you make it persona because I was not used to having all eyes on me. I continued to part time model through university but I still felt uncomfortable because even at modelling jobs you had to act so confident which was not what I felt inside. I was scared to fail. I had the typical viewpoint that it would be better to throw in the towel to save myself the embarrassment of it not working out so I decided after a while of part time gigs that I should quit while I was ahead. I headed into town to go to the agency and as I was walking down the main shopping street in Dublin it started bucketing down with rain. I ran into a MAC store for shelter and that is a moment I will never forget. I stopped dead in my tracks inside the door because standing in front of me was supermodel Elle Macpherson. She turned around and pointed at me and said ‘ You are really beautiful, come here and talk with me’, naturally I was frozen on the spot in total disbelief so she actually had to approach me.. but next thing you know I had a camera in my face and she was saying she just discovered me and wanted me to audition for Britain and Ireland’s Next Top Model. I was completely star struck and must have stood there nodding while she gave me the details of when and where to go the following day. It just seemed like fate that the day I planned on quitting modelling for good I was given my biggest break yet. You don’t get complimented by a supermodel everyday so how could I say no to Elle Macpherson. So next was a frantic call to my best friend saying I needed help choosing an audition outfit ASAP!

My first BNTM photoshoot picture taken during the bootcamp stage in London modelling for Sekonda watches with the beautiful Imogen Leaver

I filmed the audition episode the following day and made it through to the bootcamp stage in London and then to the final 14 girls to move into the top model house. It was all a whirlwind and I was actually in my final year of university when this happened. I was only able to tell my immediate family and one friend where I was going (basically the people that would call the police if I disappeared!) and I deactivated my social media platforms and turned off my phone. Filming the show was so surreal because I couldn’t actually believe I was on it. My parents were really supportive about me taking time out of uni to do the show and said I should take the opportunity because that will only come once in a lifetime, and I am so glad I followed their advice.

My official contestant photo from the shows opening credits

I have never been competitive in nature and I was shocked to even be there at all so I just embraced the experience and had a lot of fun with the other girls. When I was eliminated I was actually surprised at how upset I felt, I never even expected to get as far as I did but I was so sad at the thought of not doing shoots and shows anymore. It was then that I realised how much I enjoyed the experience of modelling and wanted to pursue it. Being amongst such amazing girls and learning from industry experts really gave my self confidence a boost to put myself out there more and I will forever be grateful to Elle for giving me that chance.

The photo from the week of my eviction, I am so proud of this image because I was so scared of that falcon!

Once I returned back to Dublin, it was back to reality! I had two weeks until my finals and I had eight essays due before that. I had to pull a lot of allnighters to try and catch up because I missed pretty much the whole semester. By some miracle I managed to pass everything but because the show wasn’t out yet I couldn’t model straight away so I got a job in Hollister. Once the show aired I signed with another Irish agency and started working full time for them in my home town of Dublin. This was such a fun time where I got to make so many friends and work with such talented people.

I was having such a blast that I figured I should strike while the iron is hot and set my sights on London. I booked myself a flight over and googled all the agency open call times and spent two days walking into agencies with my little portfolio! When one of the agencies wanted to sign me I was over the moon. What I had learned from doing Top Model was not to pass up opportunities that may not come again, so two weeks later I packed a suitcase and I moved to London! I planned on giving it three months to see how things went which has turned into six and a half years…

Looking back I feel like a completely different person than I was when I started out. I have definitely grown a thick skin from working in this industry and I have grown to appreciate my body and stop caring what anyone thinks. Moving to a new city and going around castings and jobs gave me such a sense of independence and self confidence. I used to hate going anywhere by myself and was terrified of talking to new people because I would worry that they wouldn’t like me. I think from facing rejection at castings and picking myself back up and heading on to the next one I realised not everyone would like me and that was ok. Constantly putting myself in situations where I would have to talk to lots of new people brought me out of my shell and now that is my favourite thing about my job. Take it from me, when you get a chance to take an opportunity outside of your comfort zone, do it! I have worked in Dublin, London and Paris and I look forward to telling my future grandkids all about when their old granny was working as an international model!

Shot by Maxime Froge in Paris

I hope you enjoyed learning a little more about me and my career journey,

Until next time..

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