Sri Lanka

This was a very spur of the moment adventure. No kidding… My sister wins holidays as often as she eats breakfast! So that’s how we ended up in the country known for its spices and beaches, Sri Lanka.

The first two days were planned and for the rest of the journey, we pretty much winged it.

Our first stop was a meditation retreat in the jungle, The Kandy Samadhicentre. I highly recommend it there, purely for the amazing food and the experience of being isolated and so close to nature.

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Next stop was Kandy. Apparently we missed seeing Prince Charles by 20 minutes who was just outside the hotel we stayed at.
09025010802205For a truly authentic Sri Lankan experience, catch the railway train. Most of the trip was spent in sweaty, cramped conditions, with children sharing lap spaces of total strangers. Buskers and beggars would wonder aimlessly through the carriages trying to make a dollar or two.

We chatted to many locals as best as we could, but a word of warning, do not have a full bladder. There are no toilets on board!
0230407016For all the single ladies, there are a lot of friendly men there!

Next stop, the beach town of Galle.
01302702403This lovely lady that we stumbled upon and who spoke very little english kept calling me and my sister her daughters. She ended up offering us a room for $10 dollars and even stayed up late at night just to make sure we returned safely to her place. Just an all round beautiful soul.
026I have a bad habit of photographing Linda as she sleeps. Yes, I am weird!
06Last stop, Colombo.
The National Museum was worth a visit and The Gallery Cafe was a sensational place to dine.
02So there you have it, the adventures of S and L in Sri Lanka!

Photos by Linda Lai & Shirlene Lai Allison.

– Shirlene Lai Allison xo

 

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What is a Casting?

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* Image sourced from The Daily Telegraph.

The best way to describe a casting is to compare it to a job interview. This becomes a large part of a working Model’s schedule and there is no escaping it unless you are Miranda Kerr! So whats involved? On average, you have about 5 minutes to impress the client. So within this small time frame, you are expected to leave a lasting impression by building a rapport, showcasing your body of work (portfolio) and you may also be expected to… a) show off your runway skills b) get your photos taken or c) improvise/ present live to camera depending on what you are casting for.

Remembering the whole time you are judged on your appearance! Sometimes you may be up against a handful of Models for the job and other times there may be hundreds going for the same role (when this happens, it’s known as a cattle call. I bet you are thinking that is a terrible word to describe a large scale casting!) When you don’t get the job and you have done the best that you can, all you can do is brush it aside and recognise the fact, that you just didn’t fit the pre-determined criteria of the clients expectation. This is what separates the thick skinned Models that last in the industry to the ones that give up earlier on due to taking rejections to heart.

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* Image sourced from The Weekly Review.

Trust me though, when you do get picked as the Model that fits the bill, especially on the larger scale campaigns, you really do appreciate all the work that goes on between the agent and the Model, even before you get to the castings!

Here is a little story…

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This is a picture of beautiful Natalia Ko, the first professional Model that I met at my very first casting, 12 years ago. I was in awe as I thought she looked immaculate. Ko has represented many major brands including Nike and Garnier in Asia.

Funnily enough, we were cast in a scene together for a Reflex Paper TV commercial. Picture this, my first ever casting and there I was acting out a scene as though I was fighting between Natalia for the attention of a guy, all this while only dressed in our bikinis. Talk about an introduction to the industry!

So after the casting that day, we both ended up hanging out in Chapel Street together and to this day is still a dear friend. Thank you for taking me under your wings when I was a newbie and showing me the ropes. For that, I am grateful.

– Shirlene Lai Allison xo

To Hike or Not to Hike

photo-2Two weeks ago, on the coldest day of July (smack bang in the middle of Winter here in Australia) the husband and I decided to complete the ultimate challenge. Hike forty kilometres in a day and spend the night camping in the great outdoors. Slightly crazy, a little bit absurd, but what can I say, it challenged us mentally and physically to an extreme level. Personally, I wanted to see how far I could push myself before breaking point.
photo-1The hike we decided to tackle in the sensational Wilsons Promontory National Park was recommended to be completed over two to three days in their brochure. Throughout the hike, we were constantly chasing the light, leaving hardly anytime for recovery. Carrying four litres of water and only a daypack, we had no choice but to make it back to where we started. There was a moment where we had to endure waist high hyperthermia temperature water as we crossed the river in our underwear to get to the other side. Who knew that cold water temperature could actually cause physical pain. Throughout the hike my hands were both swollen from the cold air, my mind started playing tricks on me a few hours in were I started to think I had frostbite in my hands.
photo-3At the moment we turned around to walk back at the 20 kilometre mark, I was mentally and physically giving up, my legs felt like stone. My loving husband at this stage was yelling military style, that if we didn’t hike any faster we would be stuck out here in the open wildness, in the dark and cold. That was enough motivation to keep me going. We continued the last hour and a half in complete darkness with our handheld torch, which felt like a never ending trail back to civilisation.

Never in my life have I felt so happy to see my frosted covered car in the car park that my legs literally gave way. The next best thing was blasting the car heater on.

The best thing…. I gave it my all.

– Shirlene Lai Allison xo

So you want to be a Model?

In the past year, there have been numerous messages I have received from individuals wanting to get into the Modelling industry. I figured the best thing to do was to convince my peers in the industry to answer a few questions. Two of the Models, the very down to earth Danielle and Brigitte, hail from my hometown, the Mornington Peninsula and the striking Naomi (Australia’s very own Campbell) hails from the UK.

All the Models were happy for me to use their images, showcasing their natural selves. I believe this is extremely important for impressionable young girls to see, especially when the media is constantly saturated in highly ‘retouched’ images. So thank you.

Brigette Warne

* The stunning Brigitte Warne @ GIANT Management

Q: Do you study or have another job a part from Modelling?

B: I studied a double degree in Public Health & Health Promotion / Commerce (with a major in Marketing) it was a big workload and took 4 years. It was in my first year at Uni that I was approached by a modelling agency and I have been modelling ever since.

D: I studied Bachelor of Arts (Multimedia) then spent my time in between modelling jobs volunteering and freelancing in the film industry wherever I could. I now work most of the time in the film and fashion industry as a director, videographer and editor.

N: I studied fashion design and communication/business, but during modelling to get extra cash, I started childcare work then did a course in it.

Danielle Singleton

* Beautiful Danielle Singleton @ GIANT Management

Q: How do you look after your health and do you exercise?

B: I have always been super active and LOVE the outdoors. I have been horse riding since I was 10 years old and it keeps me very toned and fit (It also keeps me active and super busy, not to mention poor!! haha) I also play tennis, surf,  do pilates and walk whenever I can, lots of stretching and situps in front of the t.v!!

D: I go to yoga three times a week, I jog and walk or ride my bike as much as I can.

N: Contrary to what you think or hear about Models, I don’t work out and I really do eat whatever I want, but I do have a great metabolism and I’m always very active. I tend to walk a lot to the places I go.

Naomi KissieduGorgeous mother Naomi Kissiedu Green

Q: List some of the Modelling jobs you have done.

B: I have recently done some really great jobs for Just Jeans, Portmans, Jason Grech and Lolita. I also recently travelled to China, where I got to work with some great brands including Dior and Chanel. However, it was certainly not all glamorous and fun. It was the hardest I have ever worked (14 hour days, with no breaks and often no food and only two days off in three months) It was also very difficult being away from my family, friends, boyfriend and my animals!! However, it was an amazing experience and I am fortunate to have experienced it.

D: Highlights have been walking for Chanel, David Jones, Myer, Lee and Wrangler Jeans, L’oreal, Redken. Campaign for Envirosax, Zoe Elizabeth swimwear, Overland in NZ, Trent Nathan Eyewear and most recently Eastland. A great highlight was being published in Vogue for Karen Willis gowns and Harper’s Bazaar for L’oreal.

N: Some of my bigger jobs have included Melbourne Fashion Week, Adidas billboard shoot and TV show, Project Runway Australia.

Work Mode

* Us in work mode.

Q: How did you get into Modelling?

B: I was actually picked up whilst I was out one night with some girlfriends, an agent who worked for a very small agency approached me and gave me his card. Soon after I joined the agency, it actually closed down, which turned out to be a blessing in disguise as I was then picked up by a much bigger agency, and that’s when it all started happening for me.

D: I was approached by the senior editor of Cleo magazine who was on holidays where I used to live on the Mornington Peninsula. She told me to contact the top three agencies in Melbourne and go from there.

N: Got into modelling in the UK where I got spotted in a modelling competition after coming runner-up in the contest.

Shirlene Lai Allison* (l) Au natural at home and (r) All made up for the camera!
Shirlene Lai Allison @ GIANT Management

Q: Any personal tips to help those wanting to give Modelling a go?

B: Do your research and talk to other people in the industry about which agencies are reputable and find out which ones suit you the best. There are lots of dishonest and scamming agencies which are purely running by making Models pay huge signing up fees. No good agency should ever make you pay to be apart of their agency!! However, you have to be prepared to pay for some costs such as getting a test shoot, portfolio and prints! And the best advice is to be yourself and never let what other people say get into your head!

D: Treat it like a job. Be professional and friendly to everyone. Keep on top of your health and fitness for a healthy body and mind. Be proactive about having a good relationship with your agency. Most importantly have other goals. Modelling is a great source of income and can definitely be a lot of fun, but it’s a good idea to have a long-term goal you want to head towards as well as a part-time job.

N: Don’t take rejection personally, you must have a thick skin to work in the industry and lastly be honest with yourself, is modelling for you? Do you really have what it takes?

And my own advice….like any job in any industry, be the utmost professional, take initiative, treat everyone with respect and have good work ethics and you will be on your way to doing great things.

– Shirlene Lai Allison xo

Modelling Moments

Fashion modelling has played a big part of my working life for the past 8 years and to think my ultimate goal throughout high school was to be a school teacher, its funny what life throws at you! I went into the industry not knowing at all what to expect after receiving numerous business cards from photographers and agents in my final year of high school. Always one for a good challenge, I threw myself in the deep end and made sure I was represented by a reputable agency.

So here is a post dedicated to some of the more memorable modelling moments:

• Project Runway Australia, Foxtel TV Series.                                                                             I was lucky to be cast for this tv series as one of the regular runway Models, what made it a great experience was the fantastic cast & crew I got to work with, there was always something to laugh about with the other Models backstage! The amount of work the crew puts in behind the scenes, just makes me appreciate how much effort goes into tv shows before they air.

• Press conference in Tahiti.                                                                                                             As I was holidaying in Tahiti one year, the major newspapers held a press conference for me as I was giving support to the girls entering the Miss Tahiti pageant. They had also organised a position for me to be one of the judges if I had wanted to extend my travels there for the week. The funny thing was, as English was very limited there, my hubby had to translate everything to the press in French for me.

• Representing Victoria in the Miss Universe National Finals.                                                 Perseverance paid off. The fist year I entered, I made it through to the final 10 in the state finals, I thought this was too close to give up so finally I made it to the National finals. We were flown up to Sydney and stayed at the Hilton Hotel were we had some intense media training & choreographed runway sessions. I was also impressed with the number of girls from diverse cultural backgrounds representing their states in the Australian National Finals.

• MX Cover Shoot.                                                                                                                               I remember this day being freezing cold and the three of us girls booked for the shoot were posing on one of the busiest streets in Melbourne, mind you, I was in lingerie! There was a massive crowd around & a tram full of Japanese tourist taking our photo. The great thing about this job, is that our agent booked the right girls as the three of us just clicked and are still the closest of mates after all these years.

The best things about this industry would have to be the creative people I have had the chance to meet, the feeling you get when you book a great job & the randomness of it all!

For more images, please visit http://shirlenelaiallison.blogspot.com/

– Shirlene Lai Allison xo

My Baby Bump :)

* Last month of pregnancy pics

I cannot believe how quick time has flown, by next month we will be parents, not only for a short time but for the rest of our lives. I’m not sure you can truly ever be ready for the changes in lifestyle dynamics with a baby on board but I am looking forward to the challenges and joys of parenthood.

As this is my final month of pregnancy, I thought I would share my little journey. I must admit, I went into it not realising how many obstetrician appointments, pre-natal classes, blood tests, monitoring glucose levels and strict dieting I would have to endure due to gestational diabetes, but its all been worth it. Being pregnant really does make you appreciate the wonders of what a woman’s body is capable of.

The most wonderful feeling is when you can feel your baby move inside you, it truly is a sensation like no other!

A beautiful quote I read today: “A mother holds your hand for a while, and your heart forever.” Happy Mothers Day to all the beautiful mums out there for this Sunday!

– Shirlene Lai Allison xo