By Jasmine Alleva
The taxi driver arrived at 4:30 AM, hours before the sun would help me navigate the path to his car. I rubbed what little sleep I got from my eyes and tiptoed out the door, careful to not wake my flat mates on their only day to sleep in. My call time was 5 AM and because this was my first big shoot, there was no way I was going to be late. The driver and I exchanged small talk as we drove the dark streets of the Sydney morning. I was dropped curbside in front of a high-rise building, the taxi driver had already peeled off before I could even thank him for his service. I took a deep breath and walked up marble steps to the sliding glass doors of a lavish lobby. Fluorescent lighting stung my eyes while I waited on designer couches that looked like they had been ripped from the pages of the magazine I was shooting for that day. Was I still asleep? Was this all a dream?
I found myself lost in thought, pondering all of the steps I had taken to get myself to that couch, and then the sliding glass doors startled me out of my daydream and in walked a stunning 5’10’’ model. She began to introduce herself and I immediately knew we would get along swimmingly. She was from Texas, I was from Alaska, and while our states have a rivalry back in America, we practically became best friends due to our nationality. The editor of Cosmopolitan Bride Magazine came down to greet us in the lobby and led us back to the “lift” that would bring us up six stories to her gorgeous flat. I looked at my Texan counterpart and whispered, “What’s a lift?” under my breath. “An elevator,” she replied. “Oh, duh.”
The make up artist and hair stylist showed up shortly after. They were both so damn beautiful, I confused them for models and almost instantly barraged them with questions about how long they had been modeling and what agencies they were with. The editor laughed at my naivety and offered us all drinks and snacks while the sun started to light up the city below. I was taken aback by the entire process. I had only been in Australia for a week and was already working with a team of absolutely amazing, talented, and creative people. As I would find out over the months to come, this was not a unique situation and the stereotype of Australians being some of the nicest people on Earth is completely and entirely true. It was such a relief. The nerves that had kept me tossing and turning throughout the night had settled in my stomach and I was overcome with ease.
As our every flyaway hair was pinned back and our faces were contoured to perfection, the rest of the models and support team trickled in through the door. Finally, before 8 AM, the entire group stacked into a rented mini van and zoomed off to our first location of the day – an idyllic street corner in one of Sydney’s many suburbs. It was adorable and so were all the people enjoying their Saturday morning coffees at the cafes surrounding us. The models undressed in the street and attracted a crowd of onlookers. I had no idea where I was and had only just met the people I was with, but I trusted them and was ecstatic to be there.
A majority of the day was spent waiting around. I had been cast as a bridesmaid, so I wasn’t the most important person involved in the shoot, nor was I mad about that in the slightest. I was comfortable goofing off with my new Texan best friend, taking silly selfies in the van while the rest of the group was shooting. The locations were strung out all across Sydney, with stops in places that I had seen in books and movies my entire life. I was overwhelmed by the beauty of a place that was an entire ocean away from where I grew up. A vintage Fiat 500 rolled in, male models who looked way younger than they were played our male companions, we faked dined at an Italian restaurant, and we shared more laughs than my abdominal muscles were ready for.
The shoot ended in a Victorian style hotel room, which served as the backdrop for a fake honeymoon. An entire fourteen hours had passed me by like nothing at all and I wasn’t ready to head back to my model apartment three bus transfers away. I wanted to live out the life I was portraying in the shoot. Nevertheless, I had to part from the people I had suddenly become so close with. We said our goodbyes, gave our hugs, and I walked out onto the street with my stomach growling and my feet aching from high heels that were two sizes too small. With my eyes glued to Google maps, I meandered my way through an unfamiliar neighborhood to the closest bus stop.
The bus I waved down came to a halt at my feet and the driver opened the door. It was such a drastic step down from the sliding glass doors earlier in the day. “Wow, you look lovely. What was the special occasion?,” the driver asked. “Oh, thank you! I actually work as a model -” He cut me off, “A model? Why are you riding the bus then, love?” I gave a courtesy laugh and made my way to the back, slumping my exhausted body into a vinyl covered seat. I had gone from modeling for Cosmopolitan Magazine to the back of a city bus in a matter of minutes and I couldn’t have been more enthralled. Ah, the model life.
Photographer – Thuy Vo, @vophotography
Stylist & MUA – Christine A Eagleson, @xpressionista