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JENNIFER HAWKINS HOSTS A NEW LOOK AUS­TRALIA’S NEXT TOP MODEL

The Sunday Mail (Queensland) - TV Guide - - FRONT PAGE -

JENNIFER Hawkins is the hap­pi­est she’s ever been.

This year the 29-year-old has tied the knot to long-time boyfriend Jake Wall, helped him cel­e­brate his 30th birth­day, taken on a new TV gig host­ing

Aus­tralia’s Next Top Model, grown her Cozi swimwear and JLH shoe line, and con­tin­ued her pros­per­ous re­la­tion­ship as brand ambassador for com­pa­nies such as Myer and Bioglan.

For the for­mer Miss Uni­verse, it’s been the per­fect bal­ance of work and plea­sure.

‘‘This has been one of the best years of my life,’’ she says ex­cit­edly. ‘‘I’ve re­ally en­joyed it. I can’t even say how much fun I’ve had.

‘‘I’ve re­ally seen the peo­ple who love me. They’ve made the ef­fort to come down and stay with me in Syd­ney and it’s just been amaz­ing. I’ve had such a great time.’’

While the jam-packed sched­ule may sound ex­haust­ing, the breezy, care­free Hawkins in­sists it ‘‘hasn’t been hard at all’’.

‘‘I’m not re­ally one to stress about any­thing,’’ she says. ‘‘I sort of just go with the flow but I def­i­nitely am a plan­ner. And I think if you plan a lit­tle bit and then re­lax in be­tween you can have fun along the way.’’

And one of the most en­joy­able parts of the year has been film­ing the eighth sea­son of Aus­tralia’s

Next Top Model with judges Alex Perry, Char­lotte Daw­son and new­comer Di­dier Co­hen.

Hawkins was asked to host the show last year, re­plac­ing for­mer pre­sen­ter Sarah Mur­doch, but couldn’t fit it in around her ex­ist­ing com­mit­ments. It was an op­por­tu­nity she was dev­as­tated about turn­ing down, so when it came up again this year af­ter the show was rested for a year, she was over the moon.

‘‘When I couldn’t do it last year I was dev­as­tated and was like, ‘it’s the worst de­ci­sion ever’. But it came up again and it’s been un­real,’’ she says.

‘‘It’s been lots of fun. To be hon­est, it’s been a sur­prise that it has been so much fun.

‘‘I knew it would be an en­joy­able time and I knew it would be a chal­lenge step­ping into a host­ing role as well as be­ing a judge, but they’re a well-oiled ma­chine.

‘‘So for ev­ery­thing to be work­ing re­ally well I’m re­ally grate­ful.’’

Hawkins says this year’s con­tes­tants are also among some of the best the com­pe­ti­tion has seen.

Cho­sen from au­di­tions around the coun­try, the old­est com­peti­tor is just 19.

‘‘I’m im­pressed. They’re a re­ally strong group of girls. A lot of the girls have great per­son­al­i­ties as well as looks,’’ she says.

‘‘There’s al­ways a mix­ture and there’s a bit of drama too.’’

Hawkins says she ap­proached the show as a host and sis­ter fig­ure to the wannabe mod­els, rather than as a judge. But the drama in the house has meant she has been shelling out more ad­vice than she thought pos­si­ble.

‘‘It’s been pretty crazy. I didn’t think there’d be so much drama,’’ she says.

‘‘You sort of go along with what makes great TV, of course, but it’s also their lives so you have to sort of teach them that what­ever they’re do­ing now peo­ple are go­ing to re­mem­ber them for that, so don’t go too crazy.’’

She says it’s all about giv­ing the teenagers ‘‘con­struc­tive crit­i­cism’’ and hop­ing they ac­tu­ally lis­ten.

‘‘You can be harsh but you can still be their friend,’’ she says. ‘‘The big­gest thing I tell them is that with all the drama you cause, you have to deal with the con­se­quences.

‘‘I think that’s a very im­por­tant les­son that when they get out into the real world they won’t have us. They have to stand up and do them­selves proud.’’ So what kind of chaos are the girls cre­at­ing? ‘‘You’ll have to wait and see,’’ Hawkins teases. ‘‘It’s not nec­es­sar­ily bitch­i­ness be­cause I’m never a fan of that. I hate that side of the in­dus­try.

‘‘But it’s more that th­ese girls are so pas­sion­ate to win that they’ll just do any­thing.’’

And with so many con­tes­tants will­ing to claw each other in the back with their per­fectly pol­ished man­i­cures and climb over each other in six-inch stilet­tos, has it made it hard for Hawkins to find a favourite?

‘‘You shouldn’t have favourites and I think the big­gest thing is to have a lit­tle bit of dis­tance,’’ she says.

‘‘You can’t be­come so at­tached that you’re root­ing for one girl over an­other just be­cause of her per­son­al­ity.

‘‘There were a few girls who stood out for me in the au­di­tions and I was just like, ‘Wow, they’ve got so much po­ten­tial’, and I think you do back them to a cer­tain point. But if they don’t fol­low through you have to let them go.

‘‘The elim­i­na­tions are re­ally dif­fi­cult and I find them emo­tion­ally drain­ing be­cause you’ve be­come at­tached to the girls.’’

While the elim­i­na­tions have been a chal­lenge each week, one thing the blonde beauty is far less anx­ious about is the live fi­nale.

While pre­vi­ous live fi­nales of the show have been plagued by con­tro­versy from for­mer host Jodhi Meares sim­ply not show­ing up, to Sarah Mur­doch accidentally read­ing out the wrong win­ner’s name, Hawkins says she is pre­pared for what­ever hap­pens.

‘‘I can only do the best that I can do and I wouldn’t be say­ing yes to it if I wasn’t 100 per cent con­fi­dent,’’ she says.

‘‘I think it’ll be fun. I think it would be nice to get the en­ergy from the crowd. I’m look­ing for­ward to it.’’

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