Can you be a top model AND a serious actor?

Can you be a top model AND a serious actor?

Cara Delevingne is literally everywhere these days. And I mean EVERYWHERE. On the catwalk, in magazines, TV adverts, music and now, the silver screen.

In 2012 the ubiquitous model had a small part in Anna Karenina as Princess Sorokina, the marriage interest of Count Vronsky. This year she is set to appear in no less than three films including Suicide Squad, where she will be playing the Enchantress, a villainess with magical abilities, alongside Hollywood heavyweights such as Tom Hardy. 

And Cara is not the only high profile catwalk queen swapping the runway for the boards.

Irina Shayk made her acting debut as Megara alongside The Rock in the 2014 (disappointing) blockbuster Hercules. Emily Ratajkowski was seen unveiling her assets (once again) in the Oscar-nominated Gone Girl and let’s not forget Rosie Huntington Whitely’s star turn in Transformers, which is to be followed by a role in the new Mad Max film out later this year.

But can a top model ever really make the transition to serious actress? (I shall deal just with the ladies here – I don’t think David Gandy has been signed up to play the new Bond just yet).

Of course, nowadays actors are no longer just actors, models are no longer simply models, and singers are not just singers. Artists are expected to be flexible with their talents and sell themselves as a brand, which means crossing over industries whether they have the talent or not.

I was always urged by agents to put my profile on both acting and ‘model’ websites for maximum job exposure. All my fellow showbiz dabblers advertise themselves as professional actors and models, despite the fact that a lot of us are a) small time supporting artistes who rely on featured work and theatre jobs; and b) are definitely not models, although we may have done photographic work for weird and wonderful projects (both fashion and non-fashion!)

Most of the world’s top models have dabbled in acting at some point. Elle Macpherson is described on Wikipedia as an ‘Australian businesswoman, television host, model, and actress’. She made her film debut playing an artist’s model in the 1994 film Sirens, which starred Hugh Grant and Sam Neil. But I doubt that the woman famously known as ‘The Body’, will ever reach serious actress status.

American’s Next Top Model presenter Tyra Banks began her television career on The Fresh Prince of Bel Air and moved to the big screen when she co-starred with Lindsay Lohan in the Disney film Life-Size, playing a doll named Eve who comes to life and has to learn how to live in the real world. Once again, I don’t think an Oscar nomination will be added to her list of extensive achievements, anytime soon.

On the flip side, many top thespians started out in modelling. Oscar winner Rachel Weisz started modelling when she was 14 and continues to lend her beautiful face to famous brands. Whilst modelling, she appeared in various student productions at Cambridge University and co-founded a student drama group called Cambridge Talking Tongues. Described as a ‘fashion model’ rather than a ‘catwalk model’ I think that most people would place Rachel firmly in the acting category.

Monica Bellucci began modelling at age 13 and has worked consistently as a fashion model throughout her career. Her film career began in the early 1990s and in 1996 she was nominated for a Cesar Award for best supporting actress for her portrayal of Lisa in The Apartment which greatly strengthened her position as an actress. One could question whether her current modelling jobs stem from her acting career or her status as a model but Monica Bellucci is a talented brand who can do both.

Perhaps the most high calibre actress who was also a successful model is Cameron Diaz. The highest-paid actress of 2013 was signed with Elite Model Management but had no previous acting experience before she won her first role in The Mask aged 21. However, to my knowledge, despite being known within the modelling industry, to the outside world Cameron was a relative unknown before her acting debut propelled her into the spotlight.

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So has there ever been a top runway model who has then gone on to win critical acclaim as an actress? Or is it best to just stick to what you’re good at? One thing is for sure, in today’s ‘TV Reality’ society, sadly it seems that the professionals are slowly being turfed out.

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4 Comments

  1. 19th March 2015 / 10:20 am

    well, your title is a rhetorical question whose answer is already (well) known… 🙂 nowadays, real and genuine talent is quite rare… 😉 have you watched any movie with Laetitia Casta?… well, she’s really amazing… 🙂

  2. 16th March 2015 / 2:17 pm

    It’s good to list both as long as you have the ability to connect and succeed in both worlds.

  3. 13th March 2015 / 10:34 pm

    I agree with your last statement! As we become more and more of a skin society where young and beautiful is the only thing we admire, true actors are being pushed aside. I don’t know half the young actors in movies today – they all seem like cookie cutter images, vapid, no real talent.

    • 13th March 2015 / 10:36 pm

      It’s a real shame. Gone is the golden era of Hollywood!

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