“FAM­ILY COMES FIRST”

She’s the girl from Gunnedah who con­quered the catwalk and launched a suc­cess­ful busi­ness. Now, Mi­randa Kerr’s fo­cus is on her young son.

Sunday Herald Sun - Stellar - - Contents - Words JOR­DAN BAKER Pho­tog­ra­phy RUS­SELL JAMES Styling MA­RINA AFON­INA Cre­ative di­rec­tion ALEK­SAN­DRA BEARE

When she was lit­tle, Mi­randa Kerr’s nan would look af­ter her while her par­ents worked at their Gunnedah steakhouse. Ann Kerr re­mem­bers bathing the tot in one side of the dou­ble sink while peel­ing spuds in the other. Then they’d sing songs and tinker on a pi­ano. As she grew older, Kerr would run around her grand­par­ents’ prop­erty with her cousins, tak­ing turns be­hind the wheel of the fam­ily Valiant and climb­ing the weep­ing wil­low tree.

It was, per­haps, a per­fect child­hood – the co­coon­ing love of a mum, dad and brother, a nanna she loved like a se­cond mother, plus all the free­dom any child could want to run, ex­plore, and laugh.

But in 1997, her mother, Therese, sent a few pho­tos of Kerr to a mod­el­ling com­pe­ti­tion in Syd­ney and life changed for all of them, for­ever. And so Kerr’s son, Flynn, is grow­ing up in a world that could not be more dif­fer­ent.

Flynn Bloom, five, lives in Mal­ibu, Cal­i­for­nia. His par­ents are celebrity per­son­i­fied – Kerr for her mod­el­ling, and dad Or­lando Bloom for his act­ing – so he can’t leave the house with­out pa­parazzi try­ing to pho­to­graph him. His par­ents are sep­a­rated, so he di­vides his time be­tween them, and while there is no short­age of money or love, Flynn will never be able to work at a check-out, or race mo­tor­bikes, or traipse around pad­docks in gum­boots with the free­dom his mother had.

Kerr, how­ever, who still con­sid­ers her just-turned 80-year-old grand­mother one of the most im­por­tant in­flu­ences in her life, is de­ter­mined to give Flynn what­ever el­e­ments of her child­hood she can. “That’s one of the rea­sons we moved to Mal­ibu, we have a veg­etable gar­den there, and he has land that he can run around on,” she says. He has a swim­ming pool, and swims like a fish.

Kerr is busy th­ese days, with a new re­la­tion­ship, mul­ti­ple busi­ness deals, in­clud­ing a new one as the face of the Bonds Swim range, and her own sk­in­care com­pany, but be­ing mum to Flynn is her most im­por­tant job.

And with Kerr’s en­gage­ment to Snapchat founder Evan Spiegel, Flynn may also one day ex­pe­ri­ence the joys

of a big fam­ily. “I am very con­tent with just hav­ing one [child], but I am def­i­nitely open to the pos­si­bil­ity of hav­ing more,” says Kerr. “[Flynn] will of­ten say, ‘My friends have broth­ers or sis­ters, will I have a brother or sis­ter one day?’ I say, ‘Maybe, honey.’”

PETER CHAD­WICK, THE founder of Chad­wick Mod­els, spent one day a year for a decade look­ing at 3000-odd pho­tos that had been sent in by teenage girls des­per­ate to be the next win­ner of the Dolly magazine mod­el­ling com­pe­ti­tion. From that moun­tain of en­tries, he and se­nior magazine staff would se­lect six fi­nal­ists, and Dolly read­ers would choose the win­ner.

In 1997, a set of pho­tos of a big-eyed, dark-haired 13-year-old from Gunnedah, in north-east­ern New South Wales, caught his at­ten­tion. The magazine flew Kerr to Syd­ney along with five oth­ers, in­clud­ing 14-year-old Abi­gail Cor­nish, who would go on to be­come an ac­claimed ac­tor. An­other of the fi­nal­ists was Car­lie Draeger, who now runs a beauty salon sup­ply busi­ness on the Gold Coast.

“We did photo shoots, went to restau­rants for din­ner and were put up in a ho­tel for about two days,” re­calls Draeger. “It was lots of fun. I re­mem­ber Mi­randa was very shy, very petite, and ob­vi­ously tall. A sweet girl.”

Kerr was pre­sented to Dolly read­ers as a coun­try lass with a big ap­petite, a favourite pair of denim shorts, and a crush on JTT (Jonathan Tay­lor Thomas) from Home Im­prove­ment. The read­ers showed a keen eye for mod­el­ling tal­ent when they chose her as the win­ner, but the ex­pe­ri­ence was bit­ter­sweet for Kerr, and was her first les­son in how the celebrity spot­light can burn.

Dolly’s cover im­age of Kerr in a low-cut gold cardi­gan sparked out­rage from sev­eral fe­male politi­cians. Then Howard-gov­ern­ment Min­is­ter for Women, Jo­ce­lyn New­man, ac­cused the magazine of “us­ing a child to send sex­ual mes­sages to teenagers”. NSW Min­is­ter for Women Faye Lo Po said the im­age was “near-porno­graphic” and Mar­lene Gold­smith, a NSW Lib­eral MLC, said the im­age al­lowed “pae­dophiles to get a sense that their ac­tiv­i­ties are le­git­i­mate”.

Pub­licly, Kerr brushed off the furore. “All the me­dia at­ten­tion was ab­so­lutely lu­di­crous,” she told Dolly. “I just didn’t take any no­tice of it at all.” Pri­vately, says Chad­wick, she was dis­traught. “I re­mem­ber her mother say­ing she was re­ally up­set by it,” he says.

Kerr’s par­ents even had to in­stall se­cu­rity sys­tems at their home be­cause of per­sis­tent calls from men want­ing to meet their daugh­ter, ac­cord­ing to a news­pa­per re­port at the time. “It’s ter­ri­ble for a lit­tle girl who is fright­ened out of her wits,” said her mum Therese, who told the pa­per she wished Kerr had never en­tered the com­pe­ti­tion. “Peo­ple have turned some­thing beau­ti­ful into some­thing nasty by putting adult per­cep­tions on a young girl’s dream.”

But, as Chad­wick says, “She cer­tainly got over it and proved ev­ery­one wrong.”

Kerr signed to Chad­wick’s agency, but only worked dur­ing hol­i­days. “It was hard to get [the Dolly win­ners] work­ing,” says Chad­wick, “be­cause they were at school, and I’ve al­ways be­lieved you shouldn’t be in­ter­rupt­ing their school.” Kerr’s fam­ily moved to Bris­bane for the last two years of her study so she and brother, Matthew, could get a taste of city life, and Kerr could pur­sue her mod­el­ling ca­reer.

“I didn’t want to move at all,” she said in a 2014 in­ter­view with Coun­try Style. “I wanted to stay in Gunnedah, get mar­ried and have ba­bies.

“But then my boyfriend died [Christo­pher Mid­dle­brook,brook, 15, was killed in a car ac­ci­dent in 1998]. Af­ter that hap­pened,d, I didn’t want to go back… be­cause cause he was from Gunnedah,dah, and it was too painful. ul.

“So that was kind d of what made me lett go of that yearn­ing to go back there, be­cause he was the one I wanted to get mar­ried to and havee ba­bies with.”

Kerr was, says those who knew her then, a “com­mer­cial”” model. She didn’t have ve the height to model lux­ury brands on the run­way, but her look stood out in ad­ver­tise­ments as cus­tomers, sick of the e ethe­real waif look that hat had been pop­u­lar with th high-end mag­a­zines,, re­sponded to her doe eyes and dim­ples.

She be­came the faceace of chain store Port­mans, ns, and “ev­ery time she ap­peared eared in a cam­paign, the clothes would dis­ap­pear fromm the

store,” said one in­sider. “She had a look that sold.” Kerr was also a reg­u­lar on the cover of the now-de­funct Madi­son magazine, which was read by the same young women who had voted her win­ner of the Dolly com­pe­ti­tion as teenagers. She had a gen­er­a­tion of Aus­tralian women in her cor­ner.

Kerr moved to New York when she was 19, and in 2007 be­came the first Aus­tralian to sign with US lin­gerie gi­ant Victoria’s Se­cret. That changed ev­ery­thing. The girl from Gunnedah be­came one of the hottest su­per­mod­els in the world.

“It’s kind of weird – I never took mod­el­ling very se­ri­ously,” says Kerr. “I was like OK, well, this is a means to an end. I will be able to work and pay the bills and meet cre­ative and in­ter­est­ing peo­ple. I never re­ally had that de­sire to be a model. The role model for me was al­ways my grand­mother, the way she car­ries her­self, her style, her heart, the way she makes peo­ple feel good.”

Kerr’s is an ex­tra­or­di­nary suc­cess story to ev­ery­one but her son. Five-yearolds do not care whether their mother is a fa­mous model, or their father is a fa­mous ac­tor; to them they are sim­ply Mummy and Daddy, the providers of love and se­cu­rity, the suns around which their lit­tle worlds re­volve.

And when mar­riages end, all the money and celebrity friends in the world don’t make co-par­ent­ing any easier. Suc­cess or fail­ure at this most del­i­cate of jobs comes down to the com­mit­ment and ma­tu­rity of each par­ent, and their abil­ity to put their child’s needs ahead of their own.

Sep­a­ra­tion in it­self does not dam­age chil­dren, says Re­la­tion­ships Aus­tralia’s

``I never took mod­el­ling very se­ri­ously… The role model for me was al­ways my grand­mother ´´

Elis­a­beth Shaw. The dam­age hap­pens when there is con­flict be­tween par­ents, whether it’s over ac­cess vis­its, money, or when one par­ent tries to turn the child against the other. “The child is the blood of both par­ents,” she says. “For the child’s self-es­teem, they need to feel that they come from good stock.”

Kerr and Bloom sep­a­rated when Flynn was two years old, and they de­cided from the out­set to co-par­ent from a po­si­tion of kind­ness. “Or­lando and I are re­ally close, and we work it out,” says Kerr. “I try to make sure that [Flynn] spends time with his dad, be­cause I feel it’s im­por­tant and Or­lando does too. We have the same man­ager, so when I have to go away, we make sure some­one is al­ways with Flynn. It’s re­ally lucky we can make it work out that way. That’s why plan­ning our sched­ules six months in ad­vance is re­ally help­ful for us.”

The pair, she says, have a shared par­ent­ing phi­los­o­phy, and Kerr re­gards her­self as a co-par­ent, not a sin­gle mum. “Of­ten Or­lando will call me [about an is­sue], and I’ll say, ‘OK, Daddy and Mum agree,’ which is so im­por­tant. We spend time to­gether as a three­some all the time. Tonight is Flynn’s night with Or­lando; I just came past and said hi to them, and gave Flynn a lit­tle kiss and a hug and said I would see him to­mor­row.

“The most im­por­tant things that Or­lando and I agree on is that Flynn is healthy, he is grate­ful, he is kind, he is thought­ful, and that he un­der­stands the im­por­tance of com­mu­ni­cat­ing the way he’s feel­ing, the way he’s think­ing, and feel­ing safe in do­ing that.”

Flynn, she says, is grow­ing into an em­pathic child. “He’s a gen­tle boy, very thought­ful, and in­tu­itive for some­one his age,” says Kerr. “The other day I was run­ning late and he could tell I was frustrated. We got into the car and he said: ‘Mum, some­times I feel frustrated. What I do is take a deep breath, close my eyes and imag­ine a rain­bow, and that makes me feel bet­ter.’ If I’m ever hav­ing a tough time, it warms my heart to think about Flynn and that lit­tle story.”

Kerr spends as much time as she can with Flynn. That has meant or­gan­is­ing photo shoots when he’s with his father and work­ing on her sk­in­care busi­ness, Kora Or­gan­ics, while he’s at school. Kerr is con­sciously scal­ing back her mod­el­ling jobs and fo­cus­ing on her busi­ness and cre­ative roles so she can be at home as much as pos­si­ble. “I have ac­com­plished all I have wanted to from a mod­el­ling stand­point, and now I feel like my prime fo­cus is fore­most on Flynn.”

While Flynn doesn’t un­der­stand the sig­nif­i­cance of what his par­ents do, he does feel the ef­fects. “He doesn’t like the pa­parazzi, and Or­lando and I do a lot to keep him out of that, to pro­tect him,” she says. “There are very rarely pic­tures with his face in them now. There have been so many times when we’d like to go down to the beach, but in­stead we’ll sit by the pool so he doesn’t have to deal with that.”

Th­ese days, their lit­tle three­some has be­come four. Spiegel, 26, and Kerr will marry next year and “keep our wedding small and in­ti­mate”. Her fi­ancé and son get on well, adds Kerr. “They have so much fun to­gether. Evan is re­ally great with him. They love do­ing arts and crafts and build­ing projects to­gether.”

And with Kerr be­ing open to hav­ing more kids, not to men­tion the ru­mours that his father is en­gaged to singer Katy Perry, Flynn might soon get his wish for a brother or sis­ter.

While he might not have the kitchen-sink baths, an old Valiant to drive and a weep­ing wil­low tree, Flynn nev­er­the­less has the most im­por­tant in­gre­di­ent of his mother’s idyl­lic child­hood: an end­less sup­ply of love.

``EVAN IS GREAT WITH FLYNN. THEY HAVE SO MUCH FUN TO­GETHER. THEY LOVE DO­ING ARTS AND CRAFTS´´

MODEL MO­MENTS (clock­wise from left) Evan Spiegel; run­ning er­rands with son Flynn this year; in 2013 with ex Or­lando Bloom and Flynn; the Dolly cover that launched her ca­reer.

MI­RANDA WEARS Sal­va­tore Fer­rag­amo cape, fer­rag­amo.com; Bonds Swim swim­suit, bonds.com.au; Stella Mccart­ney sun­glasses, David Jones; Tony Bianco shoes, tony­bianco.com.au

MI­RANDA WEARS San­dro Paris blazer, and scarf, (02) 9327 3377; Bonds Swim rash top, bonds.com.au; Yeo­jin Bae skirt, yeo­jin­bae.com; VRBA brooch, harlequin­mar­ket.com; Lauren Mari­nis shoes, lau­ren­mari­nis.com

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