Samantha Harris is one of Australia’s most sought-after models. The 23-year-old of Aboriginal, Dutch, English and German heritage made headlines recently when her fiance was jailed for a crash that killed a 78-year-old man on Sydney’s northern beaches. I caught up with Harris to discuss her career, learning to love her unique looks and the sentencing of her fiance.
It’s been a traumatic few weeks for you after your fiance, Luke Hunt, was sentenced. How are you holding up?
It has been a difficult two years. I am extremely sad for the Lay family loss – it was a terrible accident that has affected many lives.
When you first started out in modelling, did you ever expect to have such a successful career?
No, never. When I first started, my aim was Kmart or Big W! I would have been excited if I made those catalogues.
What has been your biggest career highlight?
I’ve had so many; I’ve done so many great jobs. I’ve worked with David Jones, Seafolly, but you can’t pass up the Australian Vogue cover. That would have to be my highlight.
When you first started out, were your unique looks a help or a hindrance?
I think it was a help, because, as far as I knew, there were no indigenous models. When I first started, I just wanted to be a model and I was happy to be in the fashion industry. But now, looking back, I feel like I made such an impact in being one of the first indigenous models and seeing how far I’ve come. When I was little, I would have never thought I would have been able to do all these amazing jobs and that one day young girls would look up to me and would aspire to be like me.
What are you up to at the moment?
I recently had Indigenous Fashion Week, which was really exciting. It was the first Indigenous Fashion Week. And I’ve been working for Priceline. I’m one of their ambassadors for their You Beauty campaign, which basically celebrates the diversity of Australian women … no matter your age and ethnicity.
Is that something important for you?
It is really important for me, because growing up no one ever looked like me. When I was younger, I didn’t like my lips, because I had big lips. I was made fun of … When you’re young, it’s quite confronting, because you see a lot of girls and they look similar, but when you stand out and you’re younger, you don’t embrace it. You don’t want to be different. But now that I’ve grown up and I’ve seen so many young girls out there that are so self-conscious about their body image, I try and tell them: “Embrace what you have. What makes you different is what makes you stand out.”
There was quite a bit of negative media around Fashion Week over skinny models. Do you feel like it’s your responsibility to maintain a healthy body weight?
I wouldn’t say it’s my responsibility. In the fashion industry, there are going to be quite a lot of thin models. People know that’s how they naturally are. But with me, I like to be fit and healthy for the job, because you are the product. But I do it for myself and it makes me feel better.
If you didn’t go down that road of modelling, what career path would you have taken?
I have no idea. I was actually thinking about this the other day … but I do love make-up, so I could have been a make-up artist.
What are your plans after modelling?
I would really like to move into acting. I’d still keep modelling for as long as I can. If an opportunity arose with acting or something like that, it would be really exciting. But I also want to make my own product of some sort and hopefully be like Miranda [Kerr] or [Elle] Macpherson or something … I’m inclined to collaborate maybe with a make-up company and do foundations for darker skin. With foundation, I can find my skin tone quite easily. But my mum, she’s much darker than I am and she struggles a bit.
Do you plan to move overseas at any stage?
I do want to move overseas. Probably, New York. They do Victoria’s Secret over in New York. Is that a goal? That would be my biggest dream. I would die a happy person if I had walked for Victoria’s Secret. I would have died and gone to heaven!
What do you do for fun?
A new thing I’ve actually taken up – I’m not very good – but I’ve been playing golf … I was always one of those girls that couldn’t do sport and I was just really kind of unco-ordinated [laughs]. But I love going to gym. I love doing gym classes and things like that. Or I just love going to the movies or going out for lunch.
Where do you see yourself in five years’ time?
Still modelling. Hopefully, by then I have a product or maybe clothing label. Another thing that I really actually would love to do is I’d like to go to remote communities of Australia and go to the schools and spend time talking to young girls.
WE WENT TO Opera Bar, Sydney CBD.
WE ATE a meze plate of assorted dips with Turkish bread: spiced pumpkin, aubergine salsa, beetroot, feta and mint.
WE DRANK lemon, lime and bitters.
SAMANTHA WORE Witchery white shirt, Guess jacket and Lover pants.
I WORE a Burberry leather jacket and Sass and Bide leather pants.
Photo: Lidia Nikonova