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Name: Danielle Hayes

 Age: 26

Job: Fashion model/actress

City/town: Kawerau, but work mostly in Auckland

What does your job entail? Modelling clothing for clients and consumers. My job allows me to travel for work.

How long have you been doing it? Seven years.

What attracted you to this line of work? I auditioned for a TV show called New Zealand’s Next Top Model (NZNTM) on a whim, and I ended up winning. It opened a door with many opportunities for me to continue with it. At first, I was hesitant pursuing it as it wasn’t what I had planned on doing. But the opportunity was there.

What training was involved? A lot of time spent building a portfolio of images to show future potential clients my versatility.  Catwalk experience. Networking practice, as it is very important in this field to be able to network with anyone. Talking the talk so I can walk the walk.

What do you love most about your job? The travel. Since I was a kid have always wanted to travel the globe.

What are the worst bits? Loneliness, quite a lot of the time there’s huge amounts of downtime which if you have other hobbies like arts or sports you can easily fill that.

What motivates you in your work? I’m a creative at heart so the opportunity to work with many different creatives all around the world is what motivates me.

What are your career goals? To be successful, isn’t it for many? There are still stigmas among those of colour especially in the fashion industry as it is ruled by the ‘white’ people.

If I could be a part of that change and breaking that stigma for people of colour I would consider that to be a success.

Do you have any key mentors or people who have influenced you? Colin Mathura-Jeffree – a judge from NZNTM. We’re still friends to this day. Whatever doubts or career questions I have – he’s the one to ask. Before Paul Holmes passed away, I had the opportunity to go onto his radio talkback show and after the interview he offered his advice for dealing with the industry. I put great value on that advice to this day. And my family also influenced me. They are involved in the decisions I make for my career because I choose to have them there with me, through the successes and failures.

Where did you grow up and what was it like? A small town called Kawerau, in the Eastern Bay of Plenty. For people on the outside, Kawerau was a hard town to grow up in. It’s a mill town with mill families. For me though, Kawerau was filled with a community-based lifestyle. I went to Kawerau College for three years and then Whakatane High School for the remaining two. I spent a lot of time with friends down at the river or up Putauaki (the maunga that watches over Kawerau) getting up to as much mischief as possible without getting into trouble with the law. Sports and outdoor activities entertained us, kept us occupied. The Mongrel Mob presence in Kawerau, though  reputedly bad, kept some of us in line. I was bullied and made fun of, but the community-based lifestyle is what crafted and shaped the person I am today. I once hated my hometown, but after travelling the world there ain’t no place like home.


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