CityLife COVER STORY
WHERE IT BEGAN
By Danae Jones
Making it in the modelling game is no easy feat, but one local girl has done just that, wowing industry heavyweights and becoming the face of national brands such as Cotton On, Forever New and Universal Store.
It all began when Leilani Eddie won the Face of Cairns Central competition three years ago, at the time she was only 14 years old.
“We’re incredibly passionate about embracing local talent at Cairns Central. Leilani was signed with CHIC Management as a result of winning Face of Cairns Central,” said Cairns Central Marketing Manager, Louise Struber.
She grew up on an island off the north coast of Australia called Orpheus Island, her mother was a marine biologist and her father worked on the boats as an engineer. They moved to Cairns when she was in year 4, and then finished her schooling in Gordonvale, south of Cairns.
After finishing school, one day she randomly decided to enter The Face of Cairns Central competition after her father took her and her sister shopping.
“There was no pre-plan at all, so the day before it actually commenced, my sister and I came to the centre because Dad wanted us to ENJOY some ‘family bonding time together’ and we saw the advertisement. who knew that a 14 year old would be the face of Cairns Central!” Leilani Eddie laughs.
Leilani graduated high school in 2020 and has been full-time modelling since then. She moved to Brisbane in January 2021 and hasn’t looked back.
“I’ve met some wonderful people in the industry so far. The biggest thing I’ve noticed is that the most successful people and those that have the most longevity in the industry, are the people who are most down to earth. And so I’ve only had good experiences so far. And I’m just hoping it maintains that throughout the time I’m doing it.”
Her days are never idle, but self care is something she makes a priority to maintain her busy schedule.
“We got a big routine going on now … ha ha ha. So a typical day I wake up, make my nutritional breakfast, I like to have a regime now because my life is all over the place with modelling and stuff, so I like to have nice food, consistency. So I do a walk, listen to a podcast. I’m all about that spiritual, emotional building at the moment. And if it’s a day of work, then I’d probably head straight to work in the morning, do a full day on set, come home, do some home chores and then exercise and go to sleep to be prepared for the next day. It’s all about being on time is the key to success.”
But she couldn’t be happier to be back in Far North Queensland for the festive season.
I think the best thing about coming back to Cairns is coming back to a more relaxing aspect of life. Because it’s a little bit slower to obviously down south. So it’s good to take some time and just be in the moment I think, I love it here. And I do miss the heat, but it has grown on me, it is a bit colder down south, so I’m kind of shifting. But I love it up here, I’ll definitely be back when I’m older I think,” she said.
With the travel restrictions lifting and international borders opening up she now has her sights firmly set on tackling the international stage.
“I’m going to stay in Brisbane until probably mid July and fly interstate and test the waters and see how we go. So hopefully Sydney is on the cards at the end of next year and London hopefully so keeping it open. I’m supposed to go to uni, but once you get a taste of freedom, it’s a bit hard to look back!”
You will see Leilani’s face in a lot of places this festive season as she returns not only for holidays and family time, she has also come home to where it all began, Cairns Central, to lead their latest campaign for the season.
“Leilani has featured in various campaigns over the years, and we are so excited to bring her back to be one of our faces for our summer campaign,” said Cairns Central’s Louise Struber.
Q & A with Leilani
Favourite place to visit in Cairns: Everything related to nature – waterfalls, creeks, the ocean (that was all such a big part of my childhood so that’s why I love to come back)
If you weren’t modelling what would you be doing: Probably volunteering or giving back – I think it’s such a fulfilling role in society. I think if I wasn’t modelling I would definitely be overseas doing that sort of thing and giving back.
Biggest inspiration: Anyone that advocates spiritual or emotional growth and anyone who advocates for self-love and natural beauty. And of course my Mum and Dad, they’ve been such a big part of my life and such a strong influence on me.
What was it like seeing your face on a billboard for the first time for one of the big brands: It was definitely a pinch-me moment. I think you have to remind yourself sometimes how far you’ve come because you’re always looking for the future and thinking you can do better. So I think when you really stop still, you’re like WOW, I’ve actually done that! You feel like you’ve achieved quite a lot, and it’s kind of a nice feeling.
What advice do you have for up-and-coming models? I think the most important thing is to just be yourself. I think if you have that natural ability to move and work with people, you’ll be able to achieve quite a lot in the industry and have longevity as well.