The Aussie model and swimwear designer has rocked the cover of Vogue Italia and starred in Sports Illustrated’s swimsuit issue. But she loves nothing more than an arvo of gardening.
When did you move to Los Angeles?
I moved to LA two years ago, when I was pregnant with my daughter, Ripley.
Where are you from in Australia?
Is this the first time you’ve lived abroad?
No. I lived in New York for five or six years and then in France and England for a bit. I’ve been gone since I was 18.
What’s the key to adapting to a new city?
Being a “yes” person. For the first year I lived in New York, I said yes to everything. I did some crazy stuff! Not illegal stuff, just fun stuff. I’d be tired sometimes and didn’t feel like meeting anyone but then I’d be like, “No, I need to. I don’t know anyone.” I know what it’s like to be lonely overseas.
What do you miss about Australia?
Coffee, the healthcare system, the way of life. The people are nice and you don’t see the homeless on every street. I miss a lot of things. Definitely the coffee.
How often do you get back?
Quite often. I have my swimwear company there and usually bring Ripley with me. My mum was just over in LA because I had a busy month. I like having family help.
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What do you like most about living in LA?
The ease of international travel. And I live in an incredibly beautiful part of LA, in the forest in Topanga Canyon. It looks like [NSW’s] Blue Mountains and no-one knows about it. It’s amazing and I’m scared to tell you about it! It’s 30 minutes’ drive from Santa Monica and up the road from Malibu.
Do you have Australian mates in LA?
I have a mixed group of friends – Texan, Canadian, English and Swedish. On my street there are a lot of cinematographers and directors and we all have kids so we go on play dates and do stuff.
What aspect of American life would you like to see here?
Americans are more polite and politically correct, whereas my family is more brash. We swear a lot more and none of us is religious. You have to be careful. You hope that sarcasm will get you through.
What aspect of Australian life would you like to have more of there?
A more caring society. Less capitalism and more socialism. Free health care. Education that’s affordable. I’ve been burned by the medical system in America and it’s like, “What the hell is this?” It’s in such disarray. But generally it’s a great country.
Where would I usually find you in LA?
Probably gardening at my house. My job is mental so I love to go home and relax. I live on a mountaintop surrounded by trees. It’s so beautiful that it’s very hard to leave. I love taking my daughter hiking.
What is the most Australian thing about you?
I love Vegemite. And there are some words that I wish they used over here, like “arvo”. That lingo would be nice, you know?
And maybe swearing…
Yes! Every word is a “cuss” word over here. They’ll be like, “Ma’am, stop your cussing,” and I’m like, “I didn’t say anything!” They’re like, “You said ‘damn’.” Really?
What advice would you give a new expat?
Take yourself out of your box. You’re living overseas so use it – take up a hobby, do something fun where you meet like-minded people. I’ve tried to find a permaculture group like Seed Savers in LA but I haven’t found it yet. So I might have to start one. That could be cool.