Australian model Jessica Gomes has appeared in issues of Sports Illustrated in the US and can't walk down the street in South Korea without being followed by her adoring fans. It may have taken Aussies a little longer to realise how fabulous our bikini babe is, but now we can't get enough of her, and that's why the 27-year-old is back this week to walk exclusively for the David Jones summer launch. Kate Waterhouse caught up with the bombshell to talk about her success.
Did you always want to be a model?
No. My mum put me into grooming and deportment classes when I was 10 and it eventuated from there. I've always been attracted to fashion and beauty - it was sort of an escape for me because I didn't really like school much, because I was teased a lot.
That's so cliched. That's what all the pretty girls say!
I was! I was racially discriminated against when I was in school. I was teased a lot for being [part] Asian. I always felt like an outsider but once I started modelling, that made me really appreciate my unique looks.
What was it like when you first appeared in Sports Illustrated?
It's a big deal in America, so there is a lot of press. Sports Illustrated really opened doors for me and really made me a household name in America. It was almost like my ''medal'' because you sort of get categorised as a Victoria's Secret model or a Sports Illustrated model.
How did the whole South Korea phenomenon happen for you?
From Sports Illustrated, LG [Electronics] contacted me and wanted to put me in a phone commercial in South Korea. After I shot it, it was was literally a huge success overnight. It was like what happened to Megan Gale in Italy. I then ended up flying back to Korea and I was given my own [reality] TV show called My Name Is Jessica Gomes [which ran] two seasons. I did Dancing with the Stars there last year, where I came third, which was really fun.
When you go to South Korea, does everyone recognise you?
Yes, it's pretty full-on. It's not possible to go anywhere by myself and at one point I had to have a bodyguard.
What was it like when you were huge in South Korea and big in the US but you were relatively unknown here?
It was refreshing. It was nice to come home and just hide out a bit.
What is it about you that South Koreans are so attracted to?
They love pan-Asians; they love mixed blood. They love it if you look Asian but they like it if you've got something else in you. They liked that I was this Asian girl but I had this sexiness to me. I became famous for my ''S-line'' body.
Would you move to South Korea?
No. I thought about it but I feel like they almost like that I'm international. If I moved there, I might be too available.
So what's the plan?
I'm going to be based in LA for the next five years and then I'll come back to Australia. I'm loving LA and I'm starting to get into film but I definitely still want to work more in Asia and build a brand, whether it's cosmetics or fashion.
WE WENT TO
The Wine Bar, David Jones food court, Elizabeth Street.
The Australian cheese platter and the tapas platter.
Babich organic sauvignon blanc.
Dion Lee dress with Tony Bianco shoes.
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