‘I really don’t mind what number I am in years’
MODEL Olivia Tracey, 58, works in an industry considered terminally ageist, but she kept modelling long past the norm. “The fact that I am still modelling has been a nice surprise,” she reflects. “Because when I was in my twenties it never occurred to me that I would be modelling at over 30, let alone over 50.”
She attributes her long career to the fact that she moved to America. “When I was in my twenties the model agent Eileen Ford came to Dublin and she wouldn’t take me on because I was too old; I was 26 at the time. And then fast forward years later, Ford sought me out in America. They represented me in Los Angeles for over 10 years.”
Olivia stopped colouring her hair, letting it to turn its natural shade of grey. It became her trademark look and one that still wins her major hair campaigns.
“I was in my forties after I let my hair turn silver,” she explains on the phone from America, where she has added actress and producer to her portfolio. “That put me into a whole new ‘mature woman’ category and there’s a big market for that out here. In Ireland as well; I’ve been home recently shooting a couple of campaigns, including the new campaign with Kildare Village, which I loved. They embraced women of all different ages. I love the diversity that the industry has welcomed.”
Her take on ageing is one of equanimity. “I don’t consider ageing a problem. It’s a natural flow of life and as long as I am healthy and happy I really don’t mind what number I’m at in years.”
It’s an attitude that has withstood the pressure of living in a city which would seem to worship at the altar of eternal youth. “I would say that LA is a very young town. And yes, being youthful here is definitely a plus. But personally I have never felt like, ‘Oh God, I wish I could turn back the clock 20 or 30 years.’ I’ve never felt that way. I am quite happy with where I’m at.”
In fact, if anything, LA seems to help her to be upbeat. “LA is generally a very positive place to live and they’re very tuned in to thinking positively about things. Like remembering that even when things are not good, always believe that they will get better. And that you can’t just sit and wait for it to get better. You have to help yourself.”
Certain habits and routines are in place that help to keep her mentally fit.
“I have my little exercise routine, yoga stretches really. I do it as a physical thing but it also benefits me mentally. Even if I’m in a hurry I will try to squeeze in a 20-minute workout if I can’t do the full half hour. Just to do that little bit of stretching — switching off mentally and breathing into the exercise — is, I find, very relaxing.”