​abbey lee speaks out on the hard life of a model

The i-D cover star has elaborated on her reasons for moving into acting.

by Charlotte Gush
19 July 2015, 1:49pm

When we spoke to Australian actor and erstwhile super model Abbey Lee Kershaw just last week, she told us that she, "always knew that modelling just wasn't 'it'," explaining that she "was exhausted with not having the chance to give more, when I think I've got more to give."

Now she has revealed some harsh realities that even the very top models face. Fashion month is particularly gruelling, Kershaw explains. Having started in New York, models move on to London, then Milan and, "By the time you get to Paris, you can barely open your eyes. Your skin is red raw from all the makeup, your scalp hurts, you're exhausted, you're hungry, you are that broken down," Kershaw told the Guardian.

Even after all that hard work, there's no time to relax. "You are so disposable as a model, there is no security in it and you don't really believe people actually care about you," Kershaw says, adding that, "If I wasn't a hot flavour anymore, I was going to lose work." Having reportedly been paid $100k for a Chanel campaign, Abbey Lee does concede that all the hard work can pay off. "That's the only thing that's fantastic about being a model," she says, "That it's given me the sort of freedom I would never have had… I'm financially stable for a long time, I don't have to worry and I'm really grateful for that."

Despite not having to worry about money, Kershaw decided to forge a second career as an actor and says that she has found her true calling. "I landed on the set of Mad Max and it seemed like the heavens opened up and it was exactly where I wanted to be," she describes, explaining: "I realised how comfortable I was, how good it felt and how much I loved it."

Interestingly, Abbey Lee will be (sort of) revisiting her model life in an upcoming acting job. Having scored a role in Nicholas Winding Refn's The Neon Demon, Kershaw will play a "washed-up older model … riddled with insecurities". The role has led her to consider the enormous pressure that models -- and women generally -- face in trying to achieve an ideal of perfect beauty. "It's insane," she says, "You can no longer be thin anymore; you have to be thin and ripped. You've got to be muscle-y now; chicks are getting butt implants because that's the hot thing." Abbey Lee's words echo those of fellow model-turned-actor Cara Delevingnewho said, "It's horrible living in a world where I'll get a call from someone saying, 'So-and-so says you were partying a lot and you were looking this way and you need to lose weight.' It makes me so angry."

Kershaw hinted to i-D that she hopes to take on characters struggling with issues that are more than skin deep, however, "like, playing a female prisoner who's addicted to meth or something," she suggests, adding, "I mean there are so many interesting psychologically-driven male characters that don't exist for women…yet."

abbey lee
Abbey Lee Kershaw