Stu­dent-turned-ac­tivist Jason Clymo is granted his wish to model for Stel­lar, in a shoot with a dif­fer­ence.

Sunday Herald Sun - Stellar - - Contents - Pho­tog­ra­phy HUGH STE­WART Styling GEMMA KEIL Words ALICE WASLEY

One day Jason Clymo hopes he can flip though a magazine, see a high-fash­ion ad cam­paign fea­tur­ing a model in a wheel­chair and know it’s no big deal. And with any luck, that model will be him. “If it was com­mon­place for some­one in a wheel­chair to be mod­el­ling for Burberry, or if there was some­one with a miss­ing leg walk­ing down a run­way for Calvin Klein – if that was just nor­mal – that’s what would make me re­ally happy,” the 22-year-old tells Stel­lar. In Novem­ber 2014, Clymo was in his sec­ond year of medicine at Monash Uni­ver­sity. Out for an evening of drink­ing, he fell three storeys down a stair­well at his friend’s apart­ment build­ing. He suf­fered a spinal cord in­jury, one that left him paral­ysed from the waist down. Clymo has no mem­ory of the ac­ci­dent, though he as­sumes he went over the rail­ing. “I had gone up and down those stairs many, many times – but it’s one of those typ­i­cal sto­ries where you can do some­thing 100 times… and on the 101st, some­thing goes wrong.” He would spend six months in re­hab and move back home with his par­ents in the Vic­to­rian bor­der town of Echuca. Clymo would also start to reeval­u­ate where he was tak­ing his life. Even be­fore the ac­ci­dent, he had toyed with the idea of tak­ing time away from medicine. Mod­el­ling had al­ways been in the back of his mind. “I learnt pretty quickly that life’s way too short,” he says. “It sounds a bit corny, but it’s way too short to be

do­ing some­thing you’re not 100 per cent pas­sion­ate and ex­cited about. Other­wise you wake up with that feel­ing – what am I do­ing this for? – in­stead of jump­ing out of bed.” He catches him­self and laughs: “Well, I don’t jump out of bed! But get­ting up with ex­cite­ment for your day.”

A fam­ily friend who is a make-up artist helped ar­range a meet­ing for Clymo to feel out his new vo­ca­tion; by the end of last year, he had signed with Wink mod­els. Since then, he has fea­tured in a Pub­lic Trans­port Vic­to­ria cam­paign and is an am­bas­sador for Start­ing With Julius, an or­gan­i­sa­tion which pro­motes the in­clu­sion of peo­ple with dis­abil­i­ties in ad­ver­tis­ing and me­dia. Since roughly one in five Aus­tralians has some form of dis­abil­ity, Clymo ar­gues it’s sim­ply good busi­ness for his de­mo­graphic to be rep­re­sented.

“About 100 per cent of brands are ne­glect­ing 20 per cent of their mar­ket; it doesn’t sound smart to me,” he ar­gues. “We’re not ask­ing for a favour, we’re ask­ing you to be smart in your mar­ket­ing and smart in your brand­ing.

Just be in­clu­sive of all peo­ple – be­cause it’s the right thing to do.”

Af­ter his ac­ci­dent, Clymo was given a wish by the Starlight Chil­dren’s Foun­da­tion – he told them he wanted to star in a magazine fash­ion shoot. The foun­da­tion reached out to Stel­lar, and his wish was granted. “For kids who are di­ag­nosed with cancer or have an ac­ci­dent like Jason, con­trol over what’s hap­pen­ing to them is taken away,” says the foun­da­tion’s CEO Louise Bax­ter. “A Starlight wish gives the con­trol and de­ci­sion-mak­ing back to that per­son.”

Even though he is bristling with ex­cite­ment on the set of the Stel­lar shoot, Clymo con­fesses a fash­ion shoot was not his orig­i­nal choice. “My first wish was to meet Bey­oncé,” he laughs. “And if Bey­oncé reads this magazine, I still want to meet Bey­oncé!

“A month ago [Starlight] touched base and said, ‘Do you still want to meet Bey­oncé?’ And I thought, ‘Why don’t I try to get my­self a bit more ex­po­sure in the mod­el­ling in­dus­try and get my mes­sage out there? Then, if I be­come fa­mous, I’ll meet Bey­oncé any­way!’”

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