In 2011 Laura O’ Grady signed with Absolute the Agency after meeting agency owner Anne Morgan at the Elite Model Look Ireland competition in 2010 at the age of 15. “I immediately fell in love with Laura!" Anne exclaims. "At our Dublin castings she held her own so well. She could answer any questions that were put to her and knew so much about fashion and modelling, more than girls twice her age. All this knowledge from a 15 year old just blew me away! This girl was born to model. Laura unfortunately didn’t make the finals of the Elite Model Look but we never lost touch. I had no agency then but I knew this girl was destined for big things. Laura is special. She’s international which makes her unique. I felt the Irish market didn’t ‘get her’ and that frustrated me. So we discussed London and decided, lets do it. Lets reach for the top. Laura was always going to make it. As an agent you just know these things from the get go!"
Once Laura turned 16 she decided to pursue her passion for modelling with Absolute the Agency and in less than a year at the age of 17 she has already been signed up to one of the world’s leading model agencies Select Model Management in London while remaining in Ireland to complete her studies. Within her first week of being signed she was flown to London to shoot for Clash Magazine and has already shot with top photographer Khalid El Awad whilst generating massive hype amongst some of the top photographers in the UK. Ireland’s newest supermodel? Most definitely!
Photographer - Khalid El Awad
So Laura, massive congratulations on being signed to Select Model Management in London. How does it feel to be on the same books as some of the world’s top models Natasha Poly, Daphne Groeneveld and Agyness Deyn to name but a few?
Thanks a million! Its a very surreal experience, I flick through magazines and think ‘oh my god, shes with Select, he’s with Select’ they are a fantastic agency and I’m so excited and honoured to be working with them.
How did you start modelling and at what age?
My first experience of modelling was when I went along to the Elite Model Look competition in 2010 where i met my agent, Anne Morgan. I was only 15 so I was very young and awkward with braces and the works, so I waited a little over a year and came back to Absolute after chatting to Anne late last September.
Tell us a bit about your first trip to London to meet with the agencies there, how did you find the overall experience?
My first trip to London was crazy, I was petrified meeting with agencies as you would expect agencies over there to be very harsh and intimidating but infact everyone I met was lovely and welcoming. I signed with Select on my first afternoon in London and had my first test shoot the following morning with a great photographer, so it was very busy but an experience I really treasure.
You had a call back from 2 different agencies in the one morning - how did that feel? And why Select?
It was a good confidence boost because I had been very unsure of how things would go in London so to know that there were more then one agency who saw potential gave me a little extra kick! I chose Select because I fell in love with the agency from the moment I walked it. The agency itself is filled with images of stars like Natasha Poly and David Gandy, and theres lots of models and really cool bookers walking around. They were so warm and enthusiastic and it just felt right from the beginning. From going to different agencies I can definitely say you just know from the moment you walk in. I had the same feeling in Select as i did my first time walking into Absolute, it sounds a bit crazy and sixth-sensey but its true!
A lot of girls don’t realise the massive difference in the Irish modelling industry and the UK modelling industry, what did you find were the main differences?
The difference is insane, whats considered fashion here is really more commercial / promotional in the UK, and promotional here is more glamour over there. They are different worlds and even the way shoots operate is very different. It takes some adjusting but its good to be able to experience them both and work out which suits me better. I think because im a little bit ‘quirkier’ looking I feel more at home in London, but the industry here is nice in the sense that its small and everyone knows everyone so I hope i can still do bits and piece both here and abroad.
What has the reaction been like back home since you were taken on by Select?
Incredible! I was overwhelmed by support, I didnt know what to do with myself the first time I signed onto facebook, there were so many beautiful messages from friends and family and even clients. It really means the world to have that support network behind you when you’re abroad especially as it can be a very daunting experience, and to have everyone from your classmates to photographers you may have worked with months ago congratulate you is very rewarding.
So you remain with Absolute the Agency and continue to be based in Ireland - how do you work around international bookings?
Absolute the Agency will remain my mother agent, so obviously Irish bookings come through here, but for international bookings my bookers in London will contact my mother agent about jobs and they will be consulted, then I’ll be informed from there.
You recently shot your first international editorial for Clash Magazine in London within a week of being signed. Tell us how that went, it must have been very exciting!
It was very exciting, my family were shocked as they werent expecting me to be back in London quite so fast! It was a weekend of many first experiences, I had never been on a plane on my own or had my own hotel room but I loved every moment of it! I also had a driver to pick me up and drive me around which was such a novelty! The concept behind the shoot and the team that worked on it were just fantastic and I’m so excited for it to be released! I just hope I did their ideas justice! It really taught me how important it is to be able to travel independently and how much hard work goes into these shoots. We shot for nearly 10 hours which was actually shorter than I expected. It was a really great day, I was exhausted coming home though, I was up at 3am to come back to Ireland.
It will be my first time being in a magazine so I’ll be bulk buying copies for friends and family no doubt!
Next year is a big year for you in school with your Leaving Cert approaching, how difficult will it be to juggle an international modelling career with your studies?
I think I have to see how the summer goes first with the modelling before I start getting too worked up over how I will juggle it, it might be tricky for me or it might work out that I wont have much difficulty juggling them before I leave school, but I think no matter what I’m in a very lucky position, I have a very supportive family, an incredible mother agent, and I’ve spoken to people in my school who are also supportive so for the moment I’m trying to just take each day as it comes but I’m confident I’ll be able to manage.
You have received incredible feedback from London, so where do you see yourself in 5 years time and what are your main goals in modelling?
I’ve been really pleasantly suprised by some of the feedback I’ve recieved so far and some of the very exciting emails I’ve recieved. Its been looking good but again I’m just going to take each job as it comes and see how things go. Fashion means so much to me, its an area I’ve been obsessed with since I was literally about three and anyone who knows me knows that…although I hadnt necessarily anticipated modelling, but i adore it. As for five years time, well I’ll be 24 so whether I’ll be still doing this, who knows? Theres a short shelf life in this industry, but for the moment once I’m travelling and meeting the super cool and creative people like those which I’ve met so far, I’ll be more then happy. I’m just going to work really hard, for as long as I’m happy doing it and so long as I still can, and see how I go from there. I think thats all I can ask for, and Im still very new so at the moment I’m just hoping that I’ll last the summer lol! Then one day, hopefully I’ll go to university to study something like English and Philosophy, maybe a language. Things are good at the moments, theres lots of choices and oppurtunities :)