Friday Featured Artist: Sally Arnott

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Sally Arnott crowned Ms Hollywood 2015

Sally Arnott isn’t one to rest on her laurels.  This talented model, actress, TV host and Pageant pro from the Land Down Under had already built herself an impressive list of accomplishments before a recent relocation to the U.S. in search of more opportunities.  Back home in Australia, Sally could be seen on TV in Big Brother: Australia or as a presenter for Lifestyle TV.  She’d competed in numerous pageants, including a top-placement in Miss Universe Australia.  Not to mention it’s her face on John Freida Haircare’s Incredible Colour campaign, and appearances all over the Muk Hair website.

Sally now resides in Los Angeles and is the reigning Ms Hollywood 2015.  This October, she will go on to compete for the title of Ms California and use her exposure to promote the charitable Create Now organization.  All this, while finishing a Law and Marketing degree that goes to show professional modeling is more than just good looks.  Thankfully, we got a chance to squeeze a little Q-n -A time out of this busy beauty…

Which came first: modeling, or pageants? And what was your inspiration to get started with all this?

Pageants – It was a very spontaneous beginning. I had a girlfriend ask me to be moral support to her by entering in a small sports model competition with her.  It is not some thing I would have thought to enter on my own accord.

During the pageant, I was more focused on having a good time than actually on winning. The surprising thing was I was announced the winner and made it all the way to a fully expensed paid trip to the bright lights of Las Vegas for the international finals of Miss Hawaiian Tropics.  The girls there were pageant pros and unlike any thing I had seen before.  I was just a small town country girl who spent my childhood camping, riding bikes and getting dirty, so I had big shoes to fill.  I carefully watched and learned the way the girls walked and talked, having self-confidence, and the ability to present herself in front of large audiences poised, elegant, talented, and well spoken.  I then tried to copy them with my own flair.  I made lots of life long friendships and my confidence grew so much during that week of competing as I learned to step outside my comfort zone shell.  Out of 80 girls competing, I came in 6th place. I could not believe it, I have taken what I have learned and gone on to win 4 national pageants, an international pageant and place top 10 in Miss Universe.

There are many reasons I was inspired to continue competing in pageants:

· Pageantry literally changed who I am, my vision, and everything I once was. It taught me so much about myself, and I learned so much about other key things in life from poise, grace, proper communication, building self-confidence, networking, and much more!

· Pageantry was always a great way to not only learn about myself but to give back to the community and raise awareness for charity platforms I believe in.  Even without a current title I was volunteering at various charities, organizing charity events, and school visits.  But having a title allows me more opportunities to do something good, make a difference, and be heard.

· As far as modeling goes, it can offer a huge window of opportunities.  There are usually talent scouts in the audience and many modeling opportunities have stemmed from entering pageants.  Sometimes I am hired over another model due to my titles and recognition.  With my title I have been asked to front campaigns, be in movies, invited to red carpet events and be on TV and magazine interviews.

You’ve trekked all over the world in the pursuit of opportunities.  Where have your travels led you so far?  Are there any funny/interesting stories or experiences from those travels that you’d like to share?

I love travelling and one of the great benefits of modeling is that it can take you all over the world. I have modeled all over Australia, America, France, Italy, China, Egypt, Bahamas, New Zealand and each destination has been truly breathtaking and full of great stories to share.  Early in my career, I remember modeling for Hawaiian Tropics sun care in France at the time of the Cannes Film Festivals. I got into some of the big parties there and it was my first time meeting A-List stars.  I remember thinking “Act cool, act cool” when talking to them.

I remember one funny story that happened there after a photo shoot.  A man approached me in the street and asked if I could hold his jacket for a few minutes while he performed a stunt.  Before I had the chance to say any thing, he whipped it off to reveal a fluro green mankini and started walking down the beach.  From no-where, about 40 photographers ran after him and began taking his photos.  I was thinking, “Who is this guy?”  He was being pretty funny, stepping over people sun baking, bending over in front of people and all sorts. A few months later I saw it all over the place.  It was Sasha Baron Cohen to promote the movie Borat, which went on to win 10 acclaimed awards.  It always makes me laugh and brings me back to that day when I randomly see people wearing them for parties.

So many new models pin their hopes and dreams on being signed with an agency. Then grow disappointed to find their agencies cannot supply a stream of steady work.  As a model that has always managed her own career and represented herself, is there any hard-earned wisdom you can share with new talent regarding the issue of agencies and representation?

I was rejected from the first agency I applied for. It honestly crushed me and made me question myself for a short while.  I should have been more thick-skinned and applied at more agencies, but instead I went out on my own, learnt the marketing, networking and business skills needed and actually did a better job for myself than any agency could have given me.

If you do wish you sign up with an agency, research the websites of agencies, which suit your look, height and type work (e.g. fashion, commercial etc). There are so many websites that can guide you through this.

If you want to go out and start finding some work yourself, here are some great pointers:

1) The right attitude: I think when you are passionate about what you do, are positive, kind to others, and strive to better your skills… people want to be a part of that.

2) Lifestyle: Eat healthy, exercise, drink plenty of water every day – you never know when that bikini shoot will be booked.

1) Network, network, network.  I can’t tell you how many times I have sent out emails, promoted my services at events and asked for recommendations with photographers, designers, make up artists, bloggers, editors and company owners.  My card is always in my bag and I have a quick, easy pop up website that is great to show on spontaneous events.

2) Word of mouth is every thing to me and goes both ways.  I am always professional and upbeat on set, and as a result I’m constantly recommended or re-booked.  I also try to promote great people I have worked with for future projects.

3) Your headshot and portfolio is every thing to get noticed, get respected and book work.  Build up a credible looking portfolio with quality images in the field of modeling you wish to work, to showcase that you are capable of pulling it off.  Keep only your most strong images in your book.  Lot’s of photographer charge big bucks but if you ask around to photographers online who are looking for models, you may be in luck.  I have two head shot shoots booked in this month… free!

4) Jobs don’t just land in your lap most of the time – get creative in ways you can manage your image and work.

In just a few weeks, you will be competing for the title of Ms. California.  For those not involved in the world of pageantry, what is the build-up to competition like? What goes into preparation for a pageant contestant?

Yes, the dates are coming up quick. People can secure their tickets at the Chumash Casino website.

I always have nerves before a pageant, but nerves a good.  It means you want it!

Before I prepare for a pageant, I find out what I’m being judged on.  For Ms California it i:s Interviews, Swimwear and Evening Gown.  Usually I have a question-and-answer portion (for the Top 5 judging) that is replaced with a one-minute speech on my charity platform.  So it means I will be focused on giving a great, inspiring speech on the benefits of my chosen platform.  It will give me the chance to showcase my confidence, poise and public speaking ability.  I’m beginning to put pen to paper now, so fingers crossed it comes out well on the night.

For all my pageants I find a dress sponsor who can fit me for all my gowns and press appearances.  My sponsor is for this pageant Atria Couture in Los Angeles.  To get a dress sponsor, I meet with the owner and talk to them about the benefits of sponsorship.  I offer to get lots of photos in the dress for them, mention them everywhere, give their business card out to all other contestants and offer to model for them.  I make sure I return the dress clean and in good order after the pageant.

For swimwear I think it is very important to be in great shape and look healthy.  I bump up my exercise a few weeks before with cardio and weights, drink lots of water, eat lots of lean protein and cut out the “ohhh soooo goood” chocolate treats.  I’m having runway pageant training offered by Toay Productions every weekend to ensure I put my best foot forward.  Basically, we scrub up on our catwalk skills (which is great, as it has been a few months since the Ms Hollywood pageant) turns, and group performance opening number.

The interview section is a good time for the judges to get to know me, so I want to have plenty of positive things to talk about.  Leading up to this pageant, I have been fundraising and made $700 for Make A Wish Foundation and $8,200 for New Directions for Veterans and Cigar Family Charitable Foundation.  I volunteered at a local primary school for a makeover rally event and have volunteered at Create Now to mentor and teach children and plan a fundraiser night.  I have been given advice to start reading out loud slowly and clearly, to help sound better on stage.

Just as interesting is the story of what happens AFTER the pageant is over. What responsibilities and obligations lie ahead for a new titleholder?

The new titleholder will be representing California in the American finals of Ms Globe.

Tell us a little about the Create Now organization, your affiliation, and how our readers can contribute?

Create Now serves vulnerable kids ages 2-21 who have been abused, neglected, abandoned, orphaned, are left homeless, runaways, teen parents, substance abusers, victims of domestic violence, children of prisoners, gang members or incarcerated.  The youth they serve come from poverty-stricken families with histories of violence, substance abuse, or neglect.  These “forgotten children” are tucked away in group homes, shelters, detention facilities, special centers and schools throughout the Southern California region, under the radar of the general public.  We have served around 35,000 of the neediest youth in the region in 18 years.

I chose this charity as I felt I identified with the children and program, and the gift it can bring to put kids on the right path in life.  I came from a ‘dysfunctional’ upbringing that resulted in very low self-esteem, isolation and no drive for life.  I entered a ‘similar’ voluntary charity program called Connect-Us.  It was a 4-week intensive course back in Australia, where for the first time I got to experience confidence, teamwork, and self-esteem and place to feel safe to express myself in a positive manner.

If any readers have any expertise in the arts, such as music, art, writing, performing arts and cultural excursions and are willing to volunteer to teach our children, Create Now would love to hear from you. Please visit our website www.createnow.og for more information.  I will be teaching early teens Digital Animation in the next few weeks and I am really looking forward to it.  I think the creative expression to be very therapeutic, especially for traumatized children, but it also develop the youths’ talent and abilities that they can use later in life.

Create Now are having a fundraiser event on October 12th in Pasadena CA where world class performers such as 9 time Grammy nominated saxophonist Dave Koz and contemporary Jazz saxophonist Michael Lington are featured.  Tickets are $75 each, or 2 for $100 that includes delicious food, wine, beer and vodka.

-Sally Arnott on the web:  http://www.starnow.com/sallyarnott  & http://sally-arnott.blogspot.com.au
Image Credits:  Photography:  Caroline Malouf  / Makeup: Linh Tran