‘Truth be­hind our feud’

How Jen­nifer Hawkins and Me­gan Gale went from ri­vals to co-hosts

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

FROM the mo­ment they be­gan climb­ing the mod­el­ling-in­dus­try lad­der, al­most side-by-side, word emerged that Jen­nifer Hawkins and Me­gan Gale couldn’t stand each other.

They were said to be bit­ter ri­vals who barely spoke, and who would launch into a fit if the other had the sem­blance of a leg-up such as a bet­ter ta­ble at a func­tion or first walk down a red car­pet.

Nei­ther ever ac­knowl­edged the ru­mours, fu­elling spec­u­la­tion it was true. But, in re­al­ity, Gale and Hawkins say they sim­ply re­fused to dig­nify the base­less nas­ti­ness with a re­sponse.

“I never wanted to buy into it,” Hawkins says. “There was noth­ing to re­spond to. At all.”

So how did the whis­pers start and con­tinue for so long? Gale sus­pects if she and Hawkins were blokes, they wouldn’t have been faced with such “petty, catty and bitchy” in­sin­u­a­tions.

“I didn’t so much find it an­noy­ing as I found it dis­ap­point­ing,” Gale says.

“It would be fair enough if it was true and some­thing had ac­tu­ally hap­pened.”

There seems to be some­thing of a hunger to pit suc­cess­ful women against each other, to feed a nar­ra­tive that they can’t work to­gether, Gale says.

“When it’s fab­ri­cated out of ab­so­lutely noth­ing and we’re painted as these women who hate each other, it’s dis­ap­point­ing,” she says.

“I don’t think peo­ple do this sort of thing to men.”

That the pair could “band

to­gether” pro­fes­sion­ally for the first time, on hit Fox­tel re­al­ity se­ries Aus­tralia’s Next Top Model, was a great op­por­tu­nity, Gale says. The shoot for this TV Guide cover is one of only a hand­ful of times the mod­els have been pho­tographed to­gether in a sig­nif­i­cant ca­pac­ity, out­side of the oc­ca­sional party snap.

Not be­cause they de­spise each other, but be­cause for much of their ca­reers they were signed as am­bas­sadors to com­pet­ing de­part­ment stores – Hawkins for Myer and Gale for David Jones.

As it turns out, the two work quite well to­gether.

“We’ve known each other a long time but do­ing Next Top Model was prob­a­bly the most amount of time we’ve spent to­gether,” Gale says. “It was great. Jen’s a lot of fun.”

Hawkins echoed the sen­ti­ment, say­ing this year’s panel – her, Gale and fash­ion designer Alex Perry – form the foun­da­tion for the best sea­son yet. “The girls this year are re­ally special, too,” she says.

“I’m re­ally proud of them. They’re so pas­sion­ate and driven, they re­ally grow through­out. We get to see all sides of them – it’s not just a con­stant con­fi­dence, but also vul­ner­a­bil­ity, learn­ing.”

Ap­pear­ing on the show, now in its 10th sea­son, has the abil­ity to cat­a­pult a fresh face on to the world mod­el­ling stage, as has been the case many times be­fore. But it’s not a free ride. “That’s what I love about it. We give them a great op­por­tu­nity but they have to work hard,” Hawkins says.

“And the chal­lenges we set are so rel­e­vant – it’s not just silli­ness for the sake of TV, but stuff to help them with their ca­reers.”

Gale says there are some re­mark­able trans­for­ma­tions. They emerge with a sense of self, new con­fi­dence and tips on carv­ing a path through the in­dus­try that’s healthy and sus­tain­able, she says.

“I couldn’t have done this when I was their age. But then I think be­ing 15 and 16 these days com­pared to when I was, back in the 1990s, is very dif­fer­ent,” she laughs.

AUS­TRALIA’S NEXT TOP MODEL TUES­DAY, 7.30PM, FOX8

No dra­mas: Jen­nifer Hawkins and Me­gan Gale.

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