Modelling in New York is most models’ dream – for Georgia Pratt it came true.
Model at IMG
Georgia: Where did you grow up?
FQ: Northcote Point on Auckland’s North Shore. After completing a Bachelor of Design at Auckland University of Technology, I was managing the Miss Crabb workroom and doing a bit of modelling on the side, but I didn’t have representation here at that point. I moved to New York quite unexpectedly after signing with Ford Models.
What was the appeal of New York?
I’d actually always envisaged myself heading to London first, but I had a handful of close friends from home who had already made the move and the modelling agencies over there seemed a bit more ahead of the game.
When did you move and what did it entail?
I moved in the first few months of 2013. I basically signed with Ford, applied for my O-1 visa [for people with a job and extraordinary abilities], and as soon as that got approved I booked a ticket and came over. I remember getting on the plane and it sinking in that I wasn’t going on holiday. I was travelling on a one-way ticket. Pretty daunting for someone who had never been to the US.
What was your first week like?
It was the end of winter so it was still cold and crisp. As soon as I arrived I moved into a sublet and the following day did the tedious and daunting IKEA trip, which is where I believe I learnt how to push through jetlag.
Tell us about the first place you lived.
It was in the eastern part of Williamsburg, Brooklyn. It was a total box, but it had an amazing garden. My bedroom had the fire-escape window, so I used to open it when the snow was falling and the heater was on full blast. We were out of that house the following winter and then it got demolished for renovation. It’s still waiting to be rebuilt but through a gap in the fence you can see that the garden has become overgrown.
What was your big break?
The Lane Bryant campaigns were the real propeller for me. I was cast alongside six of the industry’s top, plus-size models – Ashley Graham, Candice Huffine, Tara Lynn, Sabina Karlsson, Precious Lee and Justine LeGault. These girls have been around for a while now and have all made their mark on the industry, so it was a big deal to be put on a platform next to them. As a group, that project gave us a pretty powerful voice.
What have you been up to since?
At New York Fashion Week in September I walked in the Christian Siriano show. He cast about 40 models, six of which were a size 10-16. I’d never had a real desire to do runway, but it was lovely to see a designer so passionate about dressing all types of women. My good friend and fellow New York-based Kiwi, Zara Mirkin, also recently cast me in the latest Lonely Lingerie campaign. For so long, lingerie imagery has hugely misrepresented women, and it was special to be a part of something that celebrated a raw and carefree female spirit.
Was there a moment where you thought your New York dream might fall apart?
A few months after moving over, Ford closed several divisions they represented – including mine. It was pretty hard because I hadn’t really settled in yet and I wasn’t sure if this meant that the dream was over. Thankfully I got picked up by another agency soon after.
Did you have a support network?
I had a handful of friends from New Zealand who I had studied with and who are still here now. They are all amazing and super inspiring. I have also made so many valuable new friends just from living in such a social and fun city. Where are you living now? In Greenpoint, Brooklyn, with my boyfriend and our dog.
What makes NYC home?
My friends really make it a special place for me. Even though it’s so far from New Zealand and everything I identify with there, it’s definitely a city I have a great amount of love for. And I actually love that the contrast between my two homes is so vast.
In what ways are you still a New Zealander?
Now that I have been away I realise how much more relaxed we are about life and that it’s a very calming place to be. I always want to be as close as I can be to the ocean and the bush, and I’m lucky to be able to come back home reasonably often and sink back into that.
What’s something they don’t tell you about New York?
New Yorkers are really nice people.