Indigenous model Kaitlen Dodd is a fresh face stemming from rural communities of NSW, Australia. Spending different parts of her upbringing at Wauchope, NSW and Dubbo, NSW, Kaitlen started dabbling in modelling at the age of 16. Being in high school, though, she didn’t try to pursue a career in modelling up until much later.
Being in the professional industry for about a year and a half, Kaitlen has gone on to come 3rd place in the Aboriginal Model Search 2016. It isn’t all about the prizes for her, though. Kaitlen has a dream to inspire more indigenous would-be models to pursue their dreams.
Kaitlen was inspired to start modelling when she watched America’s Next Top Model for the first time. Describing herself as being “the lanky tall girl” in her classes, she had been told many times she should become a model when she was older. Drawing inspiration from Kate Moss, Naomi Campbell, Tyra Banks, Gisele Bundchen, Adriana Lima and Kendall Jenner, that was exactly what Kaitlen went on to do.
The biggest challenge for Kaitlen would be her aboriginality. She says, “the modelling industry has a particular look and I don’t exactly fit that. I’ve had to work hard to get where I am and to prove myself in the industry. I still have a long way to go but I am very proud of myself for how far I have already come.” Kaitlen says she feels that this is what holds other aspiring models back from pursuing their dream careers. Not believing there is enough representation of Indigenous models in the industry is a big issue for her. Though, Kaitlen does suggest that this should not work as a deterrent, rather it should work as inspiration as she has used it. She says, “I know it has made me want it more because I want to be a role model for my people and to be able to educate others on my culture. I’m very proud to be aboriginal and I always let people know I am when I’m at castings and interviews.”
Even though it may seem hard at times, Kaitlen says she uses her desire to break through the stereotype surrounding her people as inspiration to keep going. “I want to show the world what an Indigenous woman can do,” she says, adding that she hopes to become a role model and spokesperson for her people.
Kaitlen says that other aspiring models should “go for it”, claiming there are plenrt of opportunities for Indigenous models. “Sadly,” she says, “no one takes advantage of them.” She hopes to see more Indigenous models in the industry in the coming years as she feels it is a great opportunity to educate others on the “beautiful and unique culture”. Diversity in the industry is the one major change that Kaitlen would like to see. “I think the standard of ‘beauty’ is changing,” Kaitlen says, “and I think people would relate more to models who are more relatable to them. It would be great to see a more diverse range of models walking in runway shows.” Kaitlen says she defines beauty as “confidence, happiness, what’s on the inside because it reflects on the outside. Someone who shines and can capture someone’s attention with just a smile.”
Kaitlen is hopeful that 2017 will bring more opportunities for her, saying she hopes to work with some big names. She also suggests she may try out for Australia’s Next Top Model, as she feels it would be great to have an Indigenous woman on the show.
Kaitlen’s family are undeniably proud of her. Her older sister, Casey, saying, “my favourite thing about Kaitlen is when she cares about something, she cares about it really hard. This modelling journey has been one of those things she really cares about and it’s not just because she is trying to make a name for herself but also because she has a genuine interest in making a name for her people. I know it’s hard for her because a lot of her family grew up knowing a lot about the gamilaraay culture. We learned the lingo, did lots of cultural activites as kids and she didn’t get to experiences that because she grew up away from home. I think that’s sparked a real thrist for being a part of that. She is proud of where she comes from and wants to share that with the world. She’s one of the most humble people I know.” Casey went on to state that she feels that people do not realise how much effort Kaitlen puts in. “It looks easy and it looks glamorous,” Casey says, “but she works just as much as anyone else and is yet to reap as many rewards as she deserves for the work she does.”
You can catch Kaitlen at the Global Indigenous Runway on March 18. Tickets and information are available here. If you’d like to hear more from Kaitlen, show your support or send her a message of encouragement, check out her Facebook page here.