Determined young model Kendal Schuler knows what she wants from the demanding industry and is not afraid to go after it. On the eve of her biggest assignment she talks to Joeleen Bettini
Ask her where she gets her movie-star good looks from and model-in-the-making Kendal Schuler gives a hearty laugh.
Definitely not her dad, she jokes: “He’s not a looker”.
The cheeky response gives a fleeting glance into the 16 year old’s youthful world, a world that can be easily forgotten amid the excitement of a burgeoning international modelling career.
Standing at an impressive 176cm, the blue-eyed, blonde-haired beauty cuts an impressive figure.
Even in her well-worn school uniform, with her unbrushed hair haphazardly swept under a faded elastic headband it’s easy to see how this local girl has captured the attention of photographers and talent scouts at home and abroad.
In the five years since her discovery, Kendal has experienced a side of life most people could only dream of, from travelling the world to spending an entire evening “chatting” with uberhunk David Beckham.
She says the latter encounter was a development she never would have dreamed of when fronting for her first modelling competition at the age of 11. Her face lights up as she relives the glamorous red-carpet event in New Zealand.
“We sat on the lounge with him for about three hours, we got along quite well,” she says with mock composure.
“He wasn’t speaking to us the whole time but most of the time. He was just making small talk. I asked where Victoria (Beckham) was and he said that she was away on a tour and I was like: ‘Oh and how are the kids?’.
“He was asking me questions too about my modelling and what I want to do, so it was nice for him to talk normally. We kind of didn’t want to get up and lose our seat so we just stayed there the whole time.”
Kendal was in New Zealand for a fashion shoot with agency Red Eleven and UK publication Cosmopolitan Bridal.
It was her second overseas job in four months and her first assignment working closely with a male model.
“It was a one-day shoot. We did about 12 wedding dresses and they were all about $12,000 each. It was huge,” she says. “It was my first shoot with a guy so I was a bit nervous and didn’t want to get close. We had to hold hands and cuddle up together. He was 20 something and I was this little 15 year old but he made me feel really comfortable.
“I learnt a lot over in New Zealand. It was a really good learning curve for me and not only in modelling but in life and in being more mature about things.”
Though she’s still waiting for a copy of the London-based magazine, Kendal has been preoccupied with the success of her other multi-page fashion editorials featured recently in New Zealand magazines Remix and Fashion Quarterly.
All three shoots, she says, have been good preparation for her biggest modelling assignment to date – a two-month casting tour throughout Los Angeles, New York and Paris with American agency IMG Models.
Kendal secured the mammoth trip after winning the International Model of the Year award in the Tamblyn Young Model Discovery Quest in Brisbane late last year.
“It’s good that I’ve had that experience travelling by myself (to NZ) because my big trip over to New York is going to be way scarier,” she says.
“I fly out from Brisbane in May, land in LA where I stay for a week, then it’s off to New York for about three weeks and then I fly over to Paris.”
Kendal says the agency will prearrange some shoots for her in each of the locations but it’s up to her to find extra work while she’s there.
“I may end up with a contract, I may not. It depends on how well I do,” she says. “It’s a meet and greet basically.”
Though surprisingly confident for her age and accustomed to travelling alone, Kendal reveals she’s a little nervous about the trip.
“Castings over there will be so different to what they are here. Castings in Cairns are so easy, you don’t even get nervous.
“In Brisbane it’s a bit scarier. There’s always about 300 girls. You walk in and everyone looks you up and down. “But you have to deal with that.” Coping with the highs and lows of modelling is something Kendal seems to have easily mastered. However, she admits she wasn’t always so proficient at accepting defeat. Her first public appearance was in a competition to become one of the local faces of The Pier in a massive advertising campaign. The winners would appear in gigantic posters to be seen by thousands.
“I got through all the finals but I didn’t get it. I was all upset and walked away and then they called out my name. Apparently I’d won this big contract with Viviene’s (Model Management) in Brisbane through Louise Orbons (Orbons Academy).
“They said to me afterwards: ‘You’re way too pretty to put on a poster’ but I was 11 years old, I just wanted to be on a poster. They gave me this contract and it didn’t mean anything to me at the time.”
As it turned out, it was this “unfortunate” turn of events that launched Kendal’s career as a young model and she soon came to realise the importance of not seeing rejection as a set back.
“As I got older I understood more about it, so it was cool,” she says. “You’re always going to get rejected and sometimes you’re going to get chosen. You just have to remember not to take it to heart.”
The down-to-earth approach she has taken to her work and her life is just one of the Cairns beauty’s many attributes tipped to help her in her quest for modelling fame. Industry stalwarts are already touting her as the next Jennifer Hawkins and as a contender for the Miss Universe title in years to come.
“I like Jen, she’s very down to earth and she still has time for other people,” Kendal says of the comparison.
However, she’s not
she will follow in her predecessor’s footsteps.
“A lot of people have asked me about entering the Miss Universe or Miss Teen awards but I don’t know. I don’t know if I want to do it because you have to get up there and talk about things like world peace and that’s not me.
“That sounds horrible I know but it’s all about modelling for me and I just don’t want to fake it. I don’t want to be something that I’m not.”
Kendal says she plans to finish school with the option of going to university. However, her ultimate goal is to secure a position with one of the world’s most prestigious labels, Victoria’s Secret.
“It’s a high one,” she laughs. “But I can get there if I’m dedicated. Everyone I speak to says I’m going to either do bikini work or Victoria’s Secret. High fashion isn’t my thing. They are very strong looking, very angular, where as I’m more commercial.”
Considering what type of modelling she wants to pursue isn’t the only thing on Kendal’s mind when it comes to her profession.
“There’s so much to think about when you’re on a shoot,” she says. “You have to think about what your face is like, what your body is like, what your body is doing. You have to know what angle is good for you.
“Then you’ll go to a different shoot and the look is totally different. You have to change it all, you don’t want to get that same look repeatedly, so it’s hard.
“People think ‘oh yeah it’s just modelling, you just walk down the catwalk’ but it’s so much more than that.”
In aspiring towards a career in what she knows can be a fickle industry, dominated by inflated attitudes and shrinking dress sizes, Kendal says the most important thing for her to remember is to stay true to herself.
“I do need direction, I’m only 16,” she says. “But then I’m always going to need direction from my parents, no matter what age I am. But if something’s not right, I’ll know and with the support of my family and friends there’s no way I’m going to fall into that trap.”
Photograph // Marc McCormack; Hair // Jewel Hair Boutique, Grafton St, ph: 4041 4130; Make-up // Rachael Gregory, ph: 0439 749 440, visit: www.rachaelgregory.com; Styling // Riyani Martorejo, Tuba Rose, Grafton St