Westfield Ambassador Samantha Harris interview

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as told to Laura Prior

We kicked off Wool Week May 13­–21 at Westfield Marion with Aussie model and Westfield ambassador, Samantha Harris. Fresh off the plane from Fashion Week, Sam gave us the low down on this season’s wool trends and what life is like in the modelling fast lane.

Welcome to South Australia! How often do you make it down to Adelaide and have you had a chance to explore the city?

Thank you! Honestly, this trip has been a bit of whirlwind because I literally went from walking the runway at Fashion Week to rushing straight to the airport and just making my flight! I love how calm and peaceful Adelaide is – and the people are always so friendly. I love the food here, I always try and visit places like Bar Torino, with amazing produce from the Adelaide Hills.

You’ve now reached national and international success in modelling. Can you share with us how you were discovered? Being runner up in the Girlfriend magazine model search at 13 is what got me signed with my current agency, Chic, and there’s been no looking back! But even before then, my mum used to always take me to modelling competitions and little beauty pageants. I also won a modelling competition for Dolly magazine for “model most likely to succeed” just before the Girlfriend competition.

What’s one of the most interesting shoots you’ve been a part of?

Honestly, the Westfield shoot was an incredible one. It’s one thing when you’re working exclusively with models, but in this case there were so many different faces and sets of families to get to know, some who had never done a professional shoot before. I also can’t get over shooting for Vogue – being involved in a cover shoot is every model’s dream and the energy, excitement, and accomplishment around that moment will always make it unique and special to me.

Describe how you feel on the runway compared to behind the camera? The runway is a different kind of adrenaline rush. You’re feeding off everyone’s energy – from the crowd, from people working backstage, and from the other models – it’s a now or never mentality and you’re very in the moment. Whereas when you’re on a shoot, there’s a lot more flexibility, it’s usually a bit more relaxed and you have more time to get comfortable and make sure you’re getting the right shot.

You recently led the fashion parade at The Tjungu Festival, an event you have been involved in from its conception. How important is it to embrace and support your Indigenous Australian heritage? I’m proud of my Aboriginal heritage and I embrace that it’s one of the things that makes me unique in the industry. The Tjungu Festival is one of the ways I like to support my indigenous heritage – there isn’t enough indigenous representation, especially in the public sphere, and I hope I’m able to show other young girls what’s possible because I’ve pursued what I’ve wanted to do.

The modelling industry can be a tough one. How do you keep it all together and maintain ‘role model’ status? I’ve been lucky that I’ve been surrounded by amazing family and friends that keep me grounded. I try not to let the pressure of the industry get to me – I stay healthy and active, I keep my personal life low-key and separate, and my husband is incredibly supportive.

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You’re currently an ambassador for Westfield’s campaign ‘One Generation. One Family. One Westfield’. How was it being a part of this campaign and working with some recognisable faces? The Westfield campaign was a really fun experience! Sarah Ellen and I have been friends since we met during the Girlfriend model search and she and I had such a great time on-set. It’s such an Australian concept to have these close friends in the fold who basically are your family and I loved being a part of that. Seeing Dame Edna at work is a once in a lifetime experience.

You’re also here at Westfield Marion for Wool Week in celebration of merino wool, its growers and designers who use it. How will you be wearing wool this winter? What are some of your favourite brands/stores utilising the textile? Wool and winter go hand in hand – I love a really big, textured chunky knit wool sweater.  It’s the type of piece that’s cosy yet stylish – you can throw it on with jeans for the day or over a feminine dress at night for a bit of texture and edge.  Witchery is one of my favourites – they always do incredible pieces that hit the mark of classic yet on-trend, same with Country Road.  They are two of my go-tos.

Do you think a Westfield girl has their own style? If you do, what’s your Westfield look? I think the best thing about Westfield is that it’s literally your one-stop-shop for everything and no matter what your style, you can find something that’ll work for you – whether that’s sporty, girly, edgy, or a mix of everything.  I like to go for classic with a bit of edge – I love mixing textures and volume, and finding a piece that has something different to it, like an interesting sleeve detail, unique hemline, or a bold neckline.

What are the next steps for you? What do you want to achieve in your career? I’ve been so fortunate to work with so many great brands in my career, from Westfield to the being the face of The Tjungu Festival at the foot of Uluru. I love bringing beauty to all women in my role as a Priceline ambassador, but especially working closely with Make-A-Wish and helping the kids – I feel like I’m just getting started.

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LauraPriorBW3By Laura Prior