t’s 4.30am and Sydney Airport is still waking up. Travellers wander the terminal like zombies as Stellar’s own blearyeyed crew prepares for a long day ahead. Then Erin Holland approaches – her gait enviously, maddeningly brisk. There’s an explanation, she says. Turns out she lives just a few minutes away which, she tells Stellar, is very much a “tactical move”. That’s because she flies several times per week – either for work or to see her boyfriend, cricketer Ben Cutting, who lives in Brisbane.
The more you speak to Holland, 29, the less surprising her decision becomes. The model, singer and TV presenter has no issue making it known her career remains her top priority. And if living under a flight path ensures it, well… so be it.
Soon after and onboard a Qatar Airways flight bound for Canberra, Holland is vamping inside the airline’s new Qsuite Business Class section. She is modelling tailored suits in matching prints and colours, looking far more glamorous than your average tracksuit pant- clad long-haul passenger. She seems at home in her surrounds, but Holland – who is a friend of the Qatar Airways brand – admits to Stellar, “This is all very new to me; I grew up in Cairns and didn’t travel when I was younger, so I see it as such a privilege.”
Holland is polished, with never a hair (or word) out of place, probably the result of her time on the pageant circuit. In 2012, having graduated from her Bachelor’s Degree in Classical Voice at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music, she began auditioning for musical theatre roles. “I was getting close but not landing anything,” she says. “So
I thought, ‘ What can I do to make myself a more attractive option and meet the right people in the industry?’”
Drawing inspiration from the likes of Jennifer Hawkins, Jesinta Franklin and Rachael Finch, Holland entered Miss World Australia and returned a year later to take home the 2013 crown. “It was a huge moment for me,” she says. “Never in a million years would you have thought I’d be given that title. I didn’t grow up in the world of fashion, I wasn’t a stylish kid. I was comfortable in a singlet and a pair of thongs. I was a music geek, an academic geek.”
At the Miss World finals in Indonesia later that year, Holland placed in the top 10 out of 130 countries – earning accolades for the singing abilities she showcased in the talent component. “It had the desired effect, thank god – it really got my face out there,” she says.
Holland travelled and sang at charity events, before turning to presenting. Regular appearances on Sydney Weekender, Today, The Daily Edition and Sunrise followed, along with more modelling gigs.
With her career literally taking off – and a partner often away for stretches at a time – Holland has had to make peace with maintaining an unorthodox relationship, at least for the foreseeable future. For more than three years, Holland and Cutting, 31, have split their time between Sydney and Brisbane.
“The distance isn’t something either of us can change any time soon because of our careers,” Holland explains. “Ben is very clucky, though… [Kids] are definitely something we both want at some point, but I don’t want to undertake that until I am prepared to give them all the opportunities I had. And I know that with where my career’s at, I need to be a little bit more selfish for a little bit longer.”
Her expertly packed suitcase in tow, Holland heads for her third flight of the day – this time it’s to Brisbane, so she can see Cutting before he is gone for seven weeks at a tournament in the Caribbean. Even though she has clocked up “close to 2000 flights” in the past few years alone, Holland isn’t sick of the jet-setting life just yet: “I must have been a gypsy in another life, because home for me is the people – not the place.”