I could have been a teenage model.
When I was about eleven I was in a tearoom (cafes weren’t quite around yet for my family) on Lambton Quay and I noticed this woman staring at me. She met my eyes and gave me this huge smile and eventually approached my mum and introduced herself. Her name was Trudy and she ran a ‘grooming school’ for girls. She thought I was pretty enough to get modelling work and gave us the number of an agent in town.
Mum did the necessary legwork and I got some jobs posing for cover images for knitting patterns. We’d go to this weird old studio in a warehouse or something over Newtown way after school and I’d have to put on skirts (which I hated. I *never* wore skirts at this age) and some handknitted jersey and pose on a background. The make-up woman was really grumpy, I remember her getting really annoyed that I didn’t understand how to look up properly for eyeliner application and I didn’t like her coming at my eyes anyway.
A couple of times I posed with the ‘Chocolate Wheaten’ boy. You remember that ad, with the mother and the son arguing over which was the best bit? “It’s the Chocolate!” “It’s the wheaten!”. Yeah, him. He was shorter than me, and he could smile all big and fake whenever they asked. I would get tired and stop smiling after a while, because it was boring and uncomfortable work. This actually led to my personal favourite image which is me in a red checked dress and cream knit cardigan with a floppy black hat on, my hair brushed out. I am standing in front of a fake wooden fence with the chocolate wheaten boy and I’m pouting moodily and he’s got this huge fake grin. I have one leg up, with my foot against the wood and my hands may be behind my back. It’s cool.
This must have gone on for most of my second form year. I also appeared in an ad, one of those referendum ads with the camera interrogating people about the referendum as they tried to go about their lives. It was the one with the woman arriving home, and eventually slamming the door in the cameras face. Me and another girl were in school uniforms in the street behind her, propping up a bike and pretending to read a consumer magazine. I had fun with that girl, pretending that the consumer was something very exciting for us. We filmed that out in Churton Park somewhere.
Just before the start of third form I went to a casting call for a pharmacy ad. This is that one with a little blonde kid as the mascot. “Monday’s child is brave of face. Tuesday’s child has fallen from grace, etc” We (me and my Mum) spent the whole day out at some studio somewhere with all the other kids. I made another girlfriend there who I never met again. She told me a joke about a poo sandwich.
Eventually we all went down to the fake pharmacy set and the whole group of kids was arranged in a mob. We had to pretend there was something wrong with us and pull pained expressions. I held my belly and made out I had a tummy ache, apparently I did well, because they asked me to come back for actual filming but it coincided with the first day of third form and orientation for my high school so I said no.
In retrospect, I probably should have done it. That ad campaign lasted years man, and the rollover pay that I got even for showing up that first day was pretty sweet. On the flip side, they may have decided that I was “Thursday’s child has period pain” and I could never had lived *that* down at Wellington Girls.
I was offered some TV work later on, if I turned in a proper portfolio, but I’d become stubborn and a Moody Teenager(tm) by then, so I refused. I so should have continued on. I could have made so much money!
PoF: warm enough for Jenni’s Angels