Stunning schoolgirl Laura O'Grady is heading for catwalk stardom after landing a contract with Select model agency in London earlier this month.
The 17 year old beauty from Castleknock is represented in Ireland by model agent, Anne Morgan, who spotted her potential at the Elite model finals back in 2010.
ďAt the Dublin castings she held her own so well. She could answer any questions that were put to her and knew so much about fashion and modelling, more than girls twice her age. All this knowledge from a 15 year old just blew me away! This girl was born to model,Ē she says.
Even though Laura didnít make the finals of the Elite competition- Anne offered her a contract when she opened the Absolute Model Agency in 2011.
ďI knew this girl was destined for big things,Ē she says ďLaura is special. Sheís international, which makes her unique. I felt the Irish market didnít Ďget herí and that frustrated me, so we discussed London and decided, Ďletís do it, letís reach for the topí."
They visited a number of agencies this April and Laura was offered two contracts but decided to go with Select - one of the most prestigious agencies in London. Within her first week of being signed, she was flown to London to shoot for Clash Magazine and has already shot with top photographer Khalid El Awad - generating massive hype amongst some of the top photographers in the UK.
Now, with London fashion week coming up, Laura is hotter than hot, with many leading designers eager to book her for their shows. We caught up with the Castleknock schoolgirl to find a little more.
Georgina Heffernan: So Laura, massive congratulations on being signed to Select Model Management in London. How does it feel to be on the same books as some of the worldís top models Natasha Poly, Daphne Groeneveld and Agyness Deyn?
Laura O'Grady: Thanks a million! Itís a very surreal experience, I flick through magazines and think ĎOh my God, sheís with Select, heís with Selectí they are a fantastic agency and Iím so excited and honoured to be working with them.
How did you start modelling and at what age? My first experience of modelling was when I went along to the Elite Model Look competition in 2010 where I met my agent, Anne Morgan. I was only 15, so I was very young and awkward with braces and the works. I waited a little over a year and signed with Absolute last September.
Tell us a bit about your first trip to London to meet with the agencies there, how did you find the overall experience? My first trip to London was crazy. I was petrified. I expected the agencies to be very harsh and intimidating but, in fact, everyone I met was lovely and welcoming. I signed with Select on my first afternoon and had my first test shoot the following morning with a great photographer. It was very busy but an experience I will always treasure.
You had a call back from 2 different agencies in the one morning - how did that feel? And why did you choose Select? It was a good confidence boost because I had been very unsure of how things would go in London, so to know that there was more than one agency that saw potential gave me a little extra kick! I chose Select because I fell in love with the agency from the moment I walked in. The agency itself is filled with images of stars like Natasha Poly and David Gandy, and there are lots of models and really cool bookers walking around. They were so warm and enthusiastic and it just felt right from the beginning.
A lot of girls donít realize the massive difference in the Irish modelling industry and the UK modelling industry, what did you find were the main differences? The difference is insane, whatís considered fashion here is really more commercial/promotional in the UK, and promotional here is more glamour over there. They are different worlds and even the way shoots operate is very different. It takes some adjusting but itís good to be able to experience them both and work out which suits me better. I think because Iím a little bit Ďquirkierí looking, I feel more at home in London, but the industry here is nice in the sense that itís small and everyone knows everyone; I hope I can still do bits and piece both here and abroad.
What has the reaction been like back home since you were taken on by Select? Incredible! I was overwhelmed by support. I didnít know what to do with myself the first time I signed onto Facebook, there were so many beautiful messages from friends and family and even clients. It really means the world to have that support network behind you when youíre abroad, especially as it can be a very daunting experience.
So you remain with Absolute the Agency and continue to be based in Ireland - how do you work around international bookings? Absolute will remain my mother agent so Irish bookings come through here. For international jobs my bookers in London will contact my Irish agent, so Iíll be informed from there.
You recently shot your first international editorial for Clash Magazine in London within a week of being signed. Tell us how that went; it must have been very exciting! It was a weekend of many first experiences. I had never been on a plane on my own or had my own hotel room but I loved every moment of it! I also had a driver to pick me up and drive me around, which was such a novelty! The concept behind the shoot and the team that worked on it were just fantastic and Iím so excited for it to be released. It really taught me how important it is to be able to travel independently and how much hard work goes into these shoots. We shot for nearly 10 hours, which was actually shorter than I expected. It will be my first time being in a magazine so Iíll be bulk buying copies for friends and family no doubt!
Next year is a big year for you in school with your Leaving Cert approaching, how difficult will it be to juggle an international modelling career with your studies? I have to see how the summer goes first with the modelling before I start getting too worked up over how I will plan it. It might be tricky for me or it might work out that I wonít have much difficulty juggling them before I leave school, but I think no matter what Iím in a very lucky position; I have a very supportive family, an incredible agent, and my school-friends have also been very excited for me. For the moment Iím trying to just take each day as it comes but Iím confident Iíll be able to manage.
You have received incredible feedback from London, so where do you see yourself in 5 yearsí time and what are your main goals in modelling? Fashion means so much to me, itís an area Iíve been obsessed with since I was literally about three and anyone who knows me knows that. As for five yearsí time, well Iíll be 24 so whether Iíll be still doing this, who knows?
Thereís a short shelf life in this industry, but for as long as Iím travelling and meeting the cool and creative people like those which Iíve met so far, Iíll be more than happy. Iím just going to work really hard, for as long as Iím happy doing it and so long as I still can, and see how I go from there. I think thatís all I can ask for, and Iím still very new so at the moment. Iím just hoping that Iíll last the summer! Then one day, hopefully, Iíll go to university to study something like English and Philosophy, maybe a language. Things are good at the moments; there are lots of choices and opportunities.