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Model Citizen


Michaelee-Jayne McDonald may look at home on the rugby field or out in the Sumner surf, but this beautiful local is equally at home on a runway or a glamorous photoshoot.

 

Scouted by Portfolio Model Agency Director and owner Mel Radford-Brown four years ago as a 16 year old in a model search competition, Michaelee had recently recovered from a surfing accident.

She broke both her jaw and her nose, requiring about 80 internal stitches. Doctors told her she was lucky not to be paralysed.

“I realised that you can’t take life for granted and really do have to make the most of every opportunity,” Michaelee says.

“Which is why I put myself into the Portfolio Model search and say yes to every gig/do all the castings that I can!”

But that wasn’t to be the last of the daredevil’s injuries! “In early 2018 I decided it was a great idea to skateboard down a paved hill in Blenheim!” she laughs.

“This ended with me once again waking up in hospital. At the time they only did an ultrasound to check if I’d fractured my skull, but there was so much blood they couldn’t see anything!”

With constant headaches and worsening vision following the accident, Michaelee’s mum demanded a CT scan.

“I actually still remember the look on the lady’s face coming out and saying that the specialist needed to talk about something but then coming out again saying they’ll send it to my GP instead,” Michaelee says.

She had already seen a neurologist in after her 2015 surfing accident and was concerned about wasting the doctor’s time when she was called in the following day. “But this time she said ‘it’s actually not good news, they’ve found a cranial tumour’.”

Two years ago she had a craniotomy to remove the tumour. “This meant I had to leave the New Zealand Institute of Sport (NZIS), I had to pull out of my touch Canterbury team going to nationals, I wasn’t allowed to play rugby, I was unable to do anything related with modelling and I lost all my muscle/general strength,” she says.

“I was constantly tired for months, could not stand noise and was unable to eat. I’m a very active person so, as anyone would be, I was gutted. Especially because at the time I was so fit both mentally and physically; feeling like I had to start from scratch was tough.”

After her operation, Michaelee’s right eye was permanently looking right out to the side because the tumour was putting pressure on her orbit.

Then, when the part behind her orbit was removed, it lost its support and there was a risk that her eye would not be able to re-adjust itself.

Now she says one eye protrudes out more than the other.

“This used to make me self-conscious but I’ve learned so, so much since I first began modelling that I now take no notice of it and just enjoy the moment rather than focusing on those thoughts at the back of my mind!” she says in true Michaelee fashion.

There is also a distinctive shape on her forehead from the surgery. “I’m constantly getting asked if I’ve hit my head, but it’s actually my bone! I could get filler put in to make my forehead symmetrical if I wanted/needed to but I love the way I am!

“Every time I look in the mirror I smile because it’s such a great reminder of how far I’ve come and what I’ve achieved!

You can decide to be a patient, think the worst and ask for sympathy but, for me, there’s no point drowning yourself in sorrow.

Regular MRI scans and multiple tests are all a part of my current journey now, so the best remedy by far is to stay positive and set your mind towards something you’re passionate about!”

Michaelee is now enjoying the lucrative opportunities coming her way with Portfolio and recent bookings include a television commercial for an international client and a New Zealand fashion label based in Christchurch.

“Michaelee is quite a hard case with a personality that is larger than life,” Mel Radford-Brown says.

“Michaelee is one of those beautiful girls, inside and out, who truly sparkles and leaves an impact on everyone she meets, she is a very special girl, and without a doubt, has been ‘one to watch’ with us.”


 

Local Lad’s International Success


Portfolio Model Agency’s Jordan Barron has a whirlwind international career. However, the down to earth 25-year-old with the striking looks still calls Christchurch home.

Originally from Cambridgeshire UK, he moved here when he was 12. After finishing St Andrews College, Jordan was discovered by a modelling agency at Merivale’s Aikmans Bar. And next minute he had a 10-page Remix magazine shoot, and then modelled the Zambesi campaign, leading to experiences overseas.
He completed his degree in finance, accounting and commercial law, despite being asked to go to New York. Four years in Europe and Australia followed, with numerous events and working for brands such as Louis Vuitton and Harvey Nicholls in London, and Hugo Boss and Armani in Sydney, before returning home.

“Fashion has been one interest, but I have always been interested in the person behind the clothes. Being in my 20s, my taste will evolve and change as I grow. I believe everyone’s style is a measure of someone’s story, values and confidence.”
He says modelling comes with tension, and when you are young it is often more difficult to stay true to who you are.
“Continuing to mature and learn about having good people around me will only help me understand the modelling landscape better. It’s a bit like the plains of Africa. In serving that landscape you deal with a lot of rejection and opportunities. This teaches me so much more about who I am; some of my greatest life lessons have come from those.”

Jordan’s friends didn’t understand modelling initially. “The great thing about my close friends and family is that they have kept me grounded. The funniest story was when my friend went to kiss a new girlfriend, he looked up, and there was a poster of me on her wall and his date didn’t go too well!
“I’m a big believer in as we move through life our choices shape who we are. I’ve learnt more about that in the last year especially. I don’t see myself as a role model – we all have a story which informs someone else’s story. I always have hope. We can all help someone or something else as we move through life.
“I’ve always been proud to be a Kiwi – it’s been great to come home after a long stint away.”