Sydney-born Cheyenne Tozzi began modelling aged 13, moved into TV in 2014 as a mentor alongside Naomi Campbell for The Face Australia and is now a mentor on Australia’s Next Top Model. Tozzi, 27, has also branched into music and this month released Swept Up, the second single from her self-titled debut album. She chats to me about music becoming her main focus, who she thinks will win the Next Top Model finale, and how she “donated” her birthday to the United Nations.
Congratulations on your new single.
Thank you … Swept Up is a soulful summer song that’s all about that feeling of being swept up in love. The response has been really positive. I think most people have experienced that feeling at one stage or another, so they can connect with it.
You are self-trained in singing. How did your love of music come about?
Music is something that I’ve always held close to my heart and it’s been around me for as long as I can remember. I think about some of the best family nights and quite often they’ve involved a piano or a guitar – they’re special memories to hold on to. As for singing, there was always music playing in the house and I’d be humming along. I never went to singing lessons, I wasn’t even really “self taught”, I just sang.
Do you write all your own music?
All my songs are original, I love writing. It’s pretty cool to be in the studio with the boys [production team Jackie Nice]. With Swept Up, we were in the studio and they had this really cool little riff on the guitar, I started singing and it grew from there and we created this really beautiful song.
Tell me about your album.
It’s my first solo record. My music is honest and authentic. I think the feel of my genre demands that. It’s soulful. If nothing else, I hope my music makes people feel – whether it’s calm or happiness or the fondness of a memory – I just want people to feel something when they listen to it.
You split your time between modelling, TV presenting and singing. What is your main focus?
I enjoy everything that I do … I’m lucky to have had a great career in modelling and to have travelled the world meeting inspirational people. I’ve loved being a mentor on ANTM and helping other young girls in my industry, but it’s my music that I’m really passionate about and focused on.
Do you enjoy being a mentor on Australia’s Next Top Model?
Yes, it’s a great show. We’ve had a really great bunch of girls this year; there are always the temper tantrums and all that nonsense that comes along with having a houseful of 16-year-old girls. And I think we have had some incredible women come on this season, including Miranda Kerr, Elle Macpherson. and just to show girls again what a wonderful career you can create if you’re focused. If you just go 110 per cent and you are worth it, you can go all the way.
What do you love most about being a mentor?
I love that I can be a part of the girls’ dreams in any which way that I can.
Who do you think will win this year’s ANTM and why?
It’s a tough call, Sabine is incredibly beautiful and unassuming, which people like, but then Aleyna is gorgeous, has the height and all of the tools to succeed.
What’s your advice to the young girls coming up in modelling?
Be nice, and be respectful.
You have donated your birthday to the UN. Tell me a bit about that.
So you donate your birthday and people donate money to the UN [instead of giving gifts] … My goal was to raise $50,000 but we exceeded that target in two weeks! When you look outside and you read [the news] you think: “If I don’t do anything – not that I can change the world – but you need to make that initial step and maybe I can try and help.”
What was it like to start your career at 13?
My mum was a model and my aunt was a model, so it’s the environment I was growing up in and knew. I’ve had a great career and I’m still going, I’m still not finished yet in what I want to do.
Is it an advantage or a disadvantage starting so young?
I don’t know … I learnt so much obviously, I’m very street smart, I’m very savvy. I’ve travelled all over the world, but do I think it’s an advantage? I don’t think it’s a disadvantage at all. I’ve had a really wonderful career. I’m not going to now say, “Well, I wish I didn’t do that.” Everyone has their journey and their path.
What would you tell your 13-year-old self now?
What was it like being on The Face?
The Face was great. I think, the dynamic of the mentors against each other was real and was quite fun. Naomi [Campbell] is fun; Nicole [Trunfio] is a sweetheart.
Are you still in contact with Naomi Campbell?
Yes, I’ve spoken to Naomi a bit … She is one of those [models] who paved the way for everyone and she is a fantastic woman. I think, people take her wrong sometimes, when they say, “Oh, she is too aggressive” or whatever, but she really is a sweetheart and I think she has every right to be that savvy, awesome woman that she is.
What is your inspiration behind your coming fashion label The Code?
The Code is coming out early next year. We’re doing a small collection based on all the pieces that I think every girl needs. I want the collection to empower and celebrate women.
Who is a Code woman?
The Code woman would be Michelle Obama, Elle Macpherson, Bella Hadid, my mum, business women, doctors. I think she is like all these women who have just nailed it in life. She’s confident and dressed for success.
Tell me a bit about the collection.
It’s all key pieces … blazers, pants, suits, beautiful shirts, just basic but beautiful pieces that are affordable.
Where is home for you now?
Home is where the heart is. Wherever the spaghetti is, I’m there! I live in Sydney and we have five dogs, so I can’t live anywhere else – but we travel all the time.
What do you do for fun when you’re not working?
Dance-offs. And I’m trying to finesse my baking. I’ve been doing that for fun. That’s my fun thing at the moment and a walk with the dogs. I relax, I just hang out.
What has been your biggest pinch-me moment in your career?
I think it’s always hilarious when people go, “You’re still alive?” As if I’m like 80 years old! When you’re 27 years old and you start that young it feels like forever. I think my career highlight, I’ve done so many awesome things and travelled the world and just met amazing people.
WE WENT TO Exchange Restaurant & Bar, Darlinghurst.
WE ATE Pan-fried snapper fillet with cherry tomatoes, basil, and zucchini flower; Pea, mint and goats cheese arancini; White & brown anchovy bruschetta; Heriloom tomato & goats cheese panzanella.
WE DRANK Saint Andre “Magali” 2014 Rose.
CHEYENNE WORE Tom Ford shirt and skirt.
KATE WORE Dion Lee.