The Model Mayhem interview: Lauren Vickers
Australian model Lauren Vickers is quite the motorcycle enthusiast—she spends much of her time touring the world as a MotoGP Grid Girl on the motorcycle grand prix racing circuit. She’s also a TV presenter for the Australian Superbike Championships (ASBK). But when she isn’t on the race track, she’s usually modeling at a fashion show, doing an editorial or shooting for Playboy. Lauren was named Playmate of the Year for 2010 by Playboy Italia and Playboy España’s Playmate of the Month for January 2012.
Lauren recently stopped by the Model Mayhem office in Los Angeles for a chat about her love for motorsports, how she got started as a model and her future goals as a TV presenter.
— MM Edu
MM Edu: First off, thanks for stopping by the MM office on your world tour!
Lauren Vickers: Thanks for having me!
MM Edu: Let’s start at the beginning: How and when did you get started as a model?
Lauren: So, I was 11 years old walking through… Do you know how you have those Sunday markets that sell sort of everything in every hometown? So, I was walking through some of those in Sydney and this guy came up to me because I was already 5’9 at that stage—I was a giant—and he said, “Are you a model?” And I said no, and I was a bit weary of him because I thought maybe he was a bit weird or creepy—you never know. He gave me his card and it turns out he was a model agent. So, I got signed up with his agency; they tried to market me as a child model at first, but that only worked for about a week because I was just too tall. So, they started marketing me as an adult, and I went straight into editorial and runway and stuff like that. It’s been quite a long career since then actually, but I’m pretty lucky I think.
Model: Lauren Vickers
“I was 11 years old and I got signed up with his agency; they tried to market me as a child model at first, but that only worked for about a week because I was just too tall. So, they started marketing me as an adult, and I went straight into editorial and runway.”
MM Edu: You have an impressive list of credits, from fashion to MotoGP Grid Girl and Playboy, which shows your versatility as a model. With that said though, do you prefer any particular genre?
Lauren: What I love most is the photoshoots. I love it when you can do something really crazy or really creative or where you get to completely transform yourself. Playboy is really fun because you get to pretend to be a sex kitten. Some of the fashion and editorial stuff where you don’t even look like you, that’s my favorite because when you get the photos back you can’t believe it’s you in the photos— it’s incredible!
Photographer: Luca Starace; Model: Lauren Vickers
MM Edu: Do any particular shoots stand out as career highlights?
Lauren: I do love working with Playboy; I’ve worked with Playboy Italy and Playboy Spain now and I really do love that. I’ve worked with quite a few Spanish magazines, as well (they’ve started to take interest in me because I live in a small country that’s really close to Spain). I also worked at Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week again this year in Sydney for a beautiful designer named Johanna Johnson. She has the most amazing gowns that you usually see on the red carpet at the Oscar’s and other A-list events. So, that was definitely a career highlight for me.
Also, in 2008, I won Best Model Australia and got to travel to Turkey to compete in the international final and that was awesome! I’m very lucky to get to travel so much and work with such amazing people.
Model: Lauren Vickers, Culture Shock Bridal Couture
MM Edu: You’re also a MotoGP Grid Girl. I hear you caused quite a stir with your Playboy Bunny outfit on the grid. How did that come about and what’s it like being on the grand prix circuit?
Lauren: I originally started working for that team because I was traveling the world with my girlfriends, and we’d been traveling for a year and a half and they were ready to go home (one needed to finish university and one needed to start working), but I wasn’t really ready to go home yet. I’d worked at a couple of motorsport events before because I love motorsports, and I speak Italian, so I contacted a couple of the teams and I worked at a couple of the Grand Prix for them. After that I decided to just go for it and try to create a name for myself. So, I said, “Okay, how about I work for your team the whole year, you guys fly me to wherever the races are held and I’ll be your team ambassador.” I’ll do lots of photoshoots for your sponsors and get you lots of media attention. They already had a close relationship with Playboy Italia, which was their sponsor, so I was the Playboy Bunny on the grid. That started my relationship with Playboy Italia, as well. We traveled to 13 different countries all around the world and it was incredible. As for being on the grand prix circuit, I always said I didn’t want to date a rider because I thought they were complete players, but the rider for the team—who is now my fiancé— pursued me. I said, no, no, no, I don’t want to get fired, but after about three months of him pursuing me I decided to go on a date, and we’ve been together for more than two years now.
MM Edu: Congratulations on getting engaged! You mentioned your love of motorsports; do you ride a motorcycle?
Lauren: I used to, I had sport bikes and I used to do track days and stuff, but just for fun. I was never racing. I wasn’t really into the competitive racing; it was always just more for fun for me. I’ve had three bikes and I do like to combine my two passions, modeling and motorsports, and it works out very well for me. I’m lucky enough to do that because it’s a rather odd combination and I do love it! I’m also doing some TV presenting for the Australian Superbikes, as well. So, I’m branching out but still within that niche.
MM Edu: It’s interesting how all these things came together. MotoGP Grid Girl leads to Playboy which culminates in Playboy Italia naming you 2010 Playmate of the Year. How did you feel when they told you?
Lauren: I was really shocked because I had worked with them all year but that was the first time I had shot for them. I was speaking to the editor and he called me one day and said that the photos are looking really great and we’d like you to come to this party because you’re going to be Playmate of the Year. I thought I had misunderstood because he was speaking to me in Italian. I was like, “Whoa, sorry, hang on! What did you say?” He goes on to say, “Yeah, you’re Playmate of the Year. We’ve decided that you’ve won it.” I’m like, “You’ve got to be kidding me, this is amazing!” At first I thought, well I’m not really deserving of this, but then I thought about how I’ve been working with Playboy and promoting them all around the world for a year, so it kind of made sense.
For the actual shoot we went to the most beautiful location in Milan. It was in a really big old building that used to host balls and stuff like that. It was owned by this guy who is a tailor for the old school film actors from Italy, the really old school ones, and he was there in his tux and everything with his cigar; he looked like he stepped straight out of a movie and it was fantastic! So, we were really lucky to shoot there, too.
“I was speaking to the editor and he called me one day and said that the photos are looking really great and we’d like you to come to this party because you’re going to be Playmate of the Year!”
MM Edu: It sounds like you love Europe. Where do you spend most of your time there?
Lauren: Randy and I live in Andorra, which is in between France and Spain. It’s a small principality, like Monaco. But because Randy’s French we spend a bit of time in France and we have four races in Spain. I used to live in Barcelona and we spend a lot of time in Spain and Italy; I love being there.
MM Edu: That’s a lot of travel, and it sounds so glamorous, but what’s it like traveling all the time?
Lauren: It’s intense! Most of my year I live out of a suitcase but I’m so lucky to do that. I think that when I’m old I’m going to be a hermit and not want to go anywhere. But for now it’s going to make some really great stories for my grandkids and they probably won’t believe me that I went to all these incredible places.
Photographer: Anthony Adamson; Model: Lauren Vickers
MM Edu: Do you have a favorite country or location that you have shot in?
Lauren: I really love the south of France and I really love Barcelona. They’re two of my absolute favorites. And then of course, Australia, which will always be my home because I grew up there. We have really beautiful beaches, gorgeous rainforests, and the big city of Sydney, so you have a little bit of everything there. I like the balance of that, which is why when it’s off season for Randy we tend to spend about three months a year in Australia.
MM Edu: Your travel itinerary has some great countries coming up. Where are you most looking forward to and is there anywhere you haven’t been that you want to go?
Lauren: Two places: I’m really excited because this year will be my first time going to Japan. I’m really excited to go to Tokyo, and I’d love to shoot in the middle of the city with all the people because I’m so much taller than everyone!
I’ve never been to South America. I’d love to spend three months traveling around all of South America, shooting in the beautiful places there.
MM Edu: How many languages do you speak?
Lauren: I speak French, Italian, a little bit of Spanish and English (obviously). I’m still working on my Spanish. I understand a lot more than I speak, but I’m getting there.
MM Edu: Outside of modeling, what do you do for fun?
Lauren: I love the beach. I grew up on the beach and it’s still one of my favorite places to relax and switch off. I like doing a bit of shopping and I love food.
I love cooking, going to beautiful restaurants, trying new dishes all over the world, exotic cocktails and that sort of thing.
I’m vegetarian so I tend to like a lot of Thai food. They have a lot of really interesting options to make things flavorful. Also, Italian food, you can’t go past Italian food; it’s amazing! I do have a small obsession with tapas.
MM Edu: You mentioned TV presenting earlier. Is that something you want to do more of and do you see that as a natural career progression?
Lauren: I think it’s a natural progression because at the ripe old age of 25 I’m a veteran for a model! But, I do think it’s a natural progression and I do like it. I obviously prefer the photoshoots, because that’s what I’ve done and that’s what I’m really comfortable doing. But I do think it’s really important to push yourself and TV presenting is an aspect I really enjoy. You also get to meet really cool people and you have so much easier access to them when you have a microphone and a camera. I find it’s really interesting to capture everyone’s story.
MM Edu: How would you say it’s different being a presenter versus being a model? What new challenges do you face with pursuing being a TV presenter?
Lauren: I think the main similarity is that you still represent parts of your personality that aren’t normally there, like being super confident. It can be quite daunting when you have a camera in your face. I think you have to speak differently as well, so that’s different from modeling, unless you do competitions and stuff— you have to speak properly and project your voice. The aspect of representing a character in modeling really helped me in TV presenting, because I was able to step outside my comfort zone and not be too worried about it. It’s just another way of doing something I’ve done before. As a model you also had to work with lights, angles and those sorts of things, so it makes you more aware of where the camera has to be on the person you’re interviewing, so all of that helps. But I still have a ways to go when it comes to TV presenting.
Photographer: Luca Starace; Model: Lauren Vickers
“The aspect of representing a character in modeling really helped me in TV presenting, because I was able to step outside my comfort zone and not be too worried about it.”
MM Edu: And since you’re in LA, what about acting? Is that something you would like to do?
Lauren: I’ve done small acting roles, but to be honest I don’t think I’m a very good actress. It’s completely different and I think it would require a lot of training, because there are so many techniques and so many things you need to learn for acting. I’ve only done small cameos. Video clips are okay but actual acting, I don’t know, I think I would be too scared to actually do it.
I think in the future I would like to go into PR and marketing, possibly for motorsports because I love motorsports.
I’d also like to do something to help younger models progress in the industry because I know how tough it was when I was 11. I was probably a bit too young to be a model to be honest. I didn’t have thick skin, which is one essential thing you really need when you enter the modeling world. I’d like to try and help the young girls with what to expect and how to deal with the rejection and stuff. After a while, you don’t care, but at first, it’s really hard. When I don’t get a casting now I can handle rejection, but when I was 11 I used to cry when I didn’t get the job. I didn’t fully understand the industry, but now it’s water off a duck’s back. So, I’d really like to try and do something to help younger models.
“I’d also like to do something to help younger models progress in the industry because I know how tough it was when I was 11. I’d like to try and help the young girls with what to expect and how to deal with the rejection and stuff.”
MM Edu: Turning to Model Mayhem, you’ve been on the MM since 2006, why did you join and what do you get out of being a member?
Lauren: You have your ups and downs in your career. When I was 16, I signed with a big agency in Sydney. I was the same height and weight I am now (actually, I probably weighed less than I do now). They (the agency) told me I needed to lose weight, because it was kind of that Kate Moss era where everyone was really skinny. I thought, well I’m not big, I’m fine, I’m healthy, but I didn’t want to lose the weight and by then I had started to see the industry in kind of a bad light because I didn’t really like being told to lose weight at the age of 16. That’s too young to say that to somebody, so I gave modeling a break for a little while.
I did things from here and there, a few castings, and a few jobs but then in 2006, when I was almost 20, I wanted to get back into modeling and I needed photos and stuff like that. I wanted photos and someone recommended the site to me, so I joined Model Mayhem. There were a lot of people on MM even back then, so it was a good starting point to take a different approach as an adult in the industry rather than as a child. It was a bit a different because I didn’t have my agency booking everything for me, so I had to be more proactive and really get things going for myself—I was purely fueled by motivation and I loved it. I realized how much I missed modeling full-time. I met a lot of people through Model Mayhem and I’ve networked a lot. I think networking is a very important part of modeling, and MM is really good for that. I could display my photos really easy, and I got a lot of good advice there, as well. So, it’s a good tool to have and now I’m on a mentor list for new models because I want to help people new to the industry.
Photographer: Ben Scott; Model: Lauren Vickers
“I met a lot of people through Model Mayhem and I’ve networked a lot. I think networking is a very important part of modeling, and MM is really good for that. So, it’s a good tool to have and now I’m on a mentor list for new models because I want to help people new to the industry.”
MM Edu: And now you’re signed with multiple agencies?
Lauren: Yes, because of the nature of my work, and because I’m overseas so much, I have three different agents in three different countries: one in Australia, one in Spain and one in Italy. I would love to have one in the States, too!
MM Edu: Is there something you would like to talk about, maybe something you’re doing, something coming up, and anything you’re involved in? Projects, anything away from modeling, and anything you want to promote?
Lauren: There are a couple things I would like to do that are in the modeling realm, and because I’ve been involved in charity projects this past year, I would really like to do a kickass photo shoot for a breast cancer charity because it’s October and in Australia at least it’s breast cancer awareness month. I have an idea of something to do with my friends back there but if anyone has any charity projects that they think would be really cool please get in touch.
“I’ve been involved in charity projects this past year, I would really like to do a kickass photo shoot for a breast cancer charity.”
MM Edu: I know you have a plane to catch, so, thank you for taking the time to come and visit us, it was a pleasure talking to you.
Lauren: Thanks for having me… Oh, I have a question for you, one I’ve been asking for ages: When are you guys bringing out a mobile app?
MM Edu: We’re working on it. We recently launched a Model Mayhem Facebook app and the mobile app should be available later this year.