Lunch with Gemma. Photo: James Brickwood.
Australia’s Gemma Ward was discovered at 15 soon one of modelling’s most sought-after faces, becoming the youngest model to appear on the cover of US Vogue. She has also appeared in movies from The Strangers to Black Balloon. Ward, 27, recently returned from a six-year break from modelling as an ambassador for Coca-Cola Life and has this week walked for Ellery at Australian Fashion Week. I caught up with the Perth-born model to chat about her break, being a new mum and returning to the catwalk.
What are you up to at the moment?
I’m an ambassador for Coke Life, I am doing a bit of modelling, [I attended] Fashion Week and I’m developing a website, and obviously looking after my baby.
Tell me about your website.
It will probably be centred around my travels with my partner and we’ll be shooting fashion. I also want to do a shopping app; it’s just in development at the moment.
What was it like to be back on the Australian catwalk?
Oh gosh – it’s pretty surreal because I was 15 last time I was on the Australian catwalk, but it’s also pretty cool to support Kym [Ellery].
You have returned to the fashion industry. Are you back modelling full time?
Well, I’m open to things. I am juggling working and being a mother. So I do the [jobs] I love … I think it’s really nice to have an enriched life with lots of different things going on.
You were one of the most in-demand models in the world. Was it hard to turn away and take a break?
No. I made the choice to do it. I wanted to step back and there were a few things I wanted to do. I took those chances and then I just kind of kept going with it and it became like this long, novel, kind of interesting and kind of crazy thing that I was exploring. It was so fascinating. I was really delving into who I was and finding the strength and just writing and playing music and exploring the world and falling in love and doing all kinds of things.
Did you ever have any regrets?
No, because it was something that I needed to do. As much as it was a choice, it was also a necessity for me as well. So I took the time and I was happy, too. I felt like it was the right decision for me. I came out a lot stronger. I’m glad that I took the time.
Tell me about your beautiful daughter.
She is pretty much the light of my life. She has changed my life considerably. I think just experiencing bringing a life into the world, there’s nothing else like it. It’s crazy. I mean, I didn’t think that it would happen at the time that it did. And then her personality has been so fun to get to know. I’m really loving learning more and more about her as she grows up.
What has been the biggest surprise for you being a new mum?
How transformative it would be. I didn’t know that it would affect me so much.
How do you juggle your career and being a new mum?
I have my partner who is very supportive. And then his mum helps us out and my mum will help out, and then we have friends as well.
What do you do for fun?
I’ve really been getting into painting. I find that it really calms me. And I love yoga and meditating. I like going swimming and surfing with my boyfriend.
What has been your biggest career highlight?
The American Vogue cover was pretty big and very special. And doing some of the movies I did. I didn’t think I would be working on some big movies like that.
What was it like to be the youngest person ever to be on the cover of Vogue?
It was pretty cool. I mean, I didn’t know that I’d make it onto the cover. But yeah, it really did change things for me. It was kind of bizarre.
Will you continue acting?
I’m definitely open to different projects because I’ve always had a passion for classics. I spent a long time watching all the classics and studying them and deconstructing them. I’ve done acting classes for a long time. But whether I’m doing acting or whether I’m not, I’ll direct my own little things. I started writing some stuff. I’ve also pooled some short stories that I found really interesting for short films. I’m 27 now – I’ve still got a lot of years.
If you could play any role, who would it be?
I would love to play this model who was Monet’s muse. That would be amazing. I thought she was really interesting. She was playful and would dress as a boy. It was all during the time in France when things were really changing for women. She then became a painter after that. And I love Marilyn Monroe and Grace Kelly.
Who inspires you?
I like people who cross different fields and disciplines as well. Nick Cave is really inspiring, his music and then doing films and soundtracks; people like Stanley Kubrick who create whole worlds with their vision.
WE WENT TO Palm Court at The Langham, Millers Point.
WE ATE scones with jam and cream.
WE DRANK Coca-Cola Life and English breakfast tea.
GEMMA WORE a Roksanda dress
I WORE Bec & Bridge dress