Top 10 Indigenous Australian Models

The fashion industry has an undeniably long history of exclusion. There is minimal representation and even less opportunity for Indigenous Australians. Progress has been made, yet only a handful of faces represent such a diverse and ancient culture. It’s time to celebrate and support one another. The beauty and talent of Aboriginal people are being hidden behind archaic restrictions. They are using their talent to break barriers and their platforms to be heard. Every person should feel as though they are represented fairly. Every person should feel seen.

By Natalie Dawson

1. Samantha Harris


 Photographed by Sam Ruttyn.

Samantha Harris is an Indigenous Australian fashion model from Tweed Heads, New South Wales. Her mother is a member of the Stolen Generations, originally from the Dunghutti tribe. Samantha soared to fame when she won a Girlfriend Magazine Covergirl Model Search at age 11.

As her career progressed, Samantha was titled the first Aboriginal Australian supermodel. She was featured on the cover of Vogue Australia at 18, she then went on to walk in Australian Fashion Week. The Australian supermodel now uses her star power to spread awareness and share her love for her culture.

“I’m so proud to be a part of the oldest culture in the world and to have Aboriginal blood in my veins. My mum didn’t have the chance to be a proud Aboriginal woman. She was part of the Stolen Generation; it was so wrong. Mum dreamt of being a model herself but never had the opportunity.” Samantha often speaks out on the racism she still faces as an Indigenous woman within the modelling industry. She is a strong advocate for changing the date of Australia Day, as that date is associated with pain and suffering for Indigenous Australians.


 Samantha Harris & her mother.

2. Perina Drummond

Undress Runways

 Undress your mind speakers.

Perina Drummond is a proud Torres Strait Islander and Aboriginal woman. She is the founder of Jira Models, a modelling agency for Indigenous Australians. Perina’s goal is to continue to shape and strengthen the Australian fashion industry through the inclusion of Indigenous people. She has been praised for including and incorporating aspects of Aboriginal culture that other modelling agencies choose to ignore. “I recruit talent that is not only great in the modelling industry but, also those strongly connected to culture.”

Perina celebrates and supports Indigenous Australians in all areas of the creative world. Jira Models launched at Melbourne Fashion Week in 2018. Their show featured Aboriginal models wearing looks by designers from desert country Junjuwa in the Kimberley, to Gapuwiyak in East Arnhem Land.

3. Billie-Jean Hamlet

Billie-Jean Hamlet instantly captivated crowds when she starred in the Country Road 2020 summer campaign. Billie-Jean grew up in the small community of Ngurtuwarta in Fitzroy Crossing. A shy child, she was enrolled in local modelling courses to build her confidence and help her transition to city life. Billie-Jean is currently represented by Priscillas Model Management. Shortly thereafter she landed her first big job with Country Road.

“I hope to have a positive influence on any up-and-coming or aspiring Indigenous models, as I know there is an abundance of potential talent within the Aboriginal community which has yet to be discovered.” Billie-Jean often praises her mother for the confidence and strength she now has. She shares how important it is to respect oneself, family, culture and Mother Earth.


 Marie Claire’s “It’s Time” campaign.

4. Charlee Fraser

IMG Models

Vogue Taiwan

Charlee Fraser is an Indigenous Australian model of Awabakal heritage. Charlee is one of three Aboriginal models to feature on the cover of Vogue Australia (the others being Samantha Harris and Elaine George). In 2018, Charlee was the most booked model of New York Fashion Week and was named Model Of The Year in 2019 by the Australian Fashion Laureate. Charlee began her career through a twist of fate.

She was spotted by a local photographer in her hometown of Newcastle. He connected her with a model scout who offered her a contract with IMG. In an interview with Country Road’s online magazine, Charlee mentioned feeling humbled by the notion that she is considered to be a role model for young Indigenous girls. She also strongly encourages the continued diversification of the fashion and modelling industry. “Our generation now is the next generations’ history,” she said. “The changes we make and implement today will hopefully create a more peaceful and understanding future.”

IMG Models

Vogue Taiwan

5. Noah ‘Bijang Moogerah’ Slabb


David Kelly

Noah ‘Bijang Moogerah’ Slabb is an Indigenous Australian model making waves within the industry. Before the start of his modelling career Bijang had dreams of being a coast guard. He grew up in a small coastal town and his name directly translates to ‘little storm’ in his native tongue (Bundjalung). Bijang’s striking features were noticed by a representative for Vivien’s Models. Bijang was raised off the stories of his people. As a child, his older cousins would teach him the traditional dances and chants.

He feels extremely close to his culture and hopes to represent them properly in his chosen career. Bijang feels most at home in the water and never wants to stray too far from the rippling tides. He enjoys splitting his time between surfing and his new love for modelling. “We’re a saltwater tribe, a lot of what we do revolves around the water like swimming, fishing and surfing.” Bijang has used his Instagram to advocate for movements such as Black Lives Matter.

6. Maminydjama ‘Magnolia’ Maymuru

Maminydjama Maymuru, known as Magnolia Maymuru, is an Aboriginal model primarily known for being a Miss World Australia 2016 contestant. Magnolia made headlines as she was the pageant’s first Northern Territory contestant ever! After the competition, Magnolia went on to feature in Chadstone Shopping Centre’s summer campaign. Magnolia chooses to navigate her career while maintaining her traditional values. She only accepts modest campaigns due to her cultural beliefs.

“I wanted to empower young women from Indigenous communities who think they don’t really stand a chance in competitions, to show them they can follow their dream.”Although she did not win Miss World, Magnolia’s story was an international success. It was reported that high schools in Italy changed their curriculum to include the histories of Indigenous Australians. Magnolia grew up in Yirrkala in North East Arnhem. She was scouted on the street but didn’t pursue modelling until the completion of her studies. “No matter what colour you are, you can achieve in the end.”

Ascension Magazine

Grace & Grandeur Fashion Editorial

7. Guyala Bayles

Guyala Bayles is an Aboriginal Australian model and activist. She uses her voice to speak out against bullying, racism, and discrimination within the modelling industry. “I’ve grown up my whole life with my mum, my aunties, and my pop all telling me not to be ashamed, that the power is within us as Aboriginal people. Aunty Mook always said: “Nobody can make you feel the way you don’t want to feel. You can make your own tracks.” Guyala took part in Brisbane’s Invasion Day march in 2016. Since then she’s been vocal about not just changing the date, but abolishing the “celebration” entirely.

Guyala came forward about the injustices she faces within the modelling industry. She has been told on many occasions that she should keep her Indigenous heritage a secret. Early 2020, Guyala’s 9-year-old brother, Quaden, went viral after a video of him crying due to bullying was posted by his mother. Quadan was the target of bullies due to his dwarfism. Guyala quickly jumped to his defence sharing the love she has for her brother, his disability, and by extension her community. The siblings use their platforms to share how detrimental bullying can be to young Aboriginal Australians and Aboriginal Australians with disabilities.


Guyala and her little brother Quaden.

8. Katarina Keeler

Katarina Keeler is no longer a model, but her experience within the industry opened her eyes to her true path. Katarina reflects on her childhood as being a constant thoroughfare between hospitals and funerals. In an interview with The Guardian, Katarina shares the mistreatment her Elders and family members would receive from healthcare systems. Never feeling safe to ask for help in fear of losing their basic rights due to the colour of their skin. Katarina’s parents ingrained the importance of her studies within her. Her short burst within the fashion industry was during her time at university. Katarina became the first Aboriginal Australian model of the Face of Adelaide Fashion Festival in 2014.

She felt proud to represent her culture and became a beacon for other Indigenous women trying to get into the industry. Katarina’s resentment for the industry built as she always had to carry her foundation shade and she was the victim of many racist remarks. “The lack of representation of seeing black faces or faces that resemble your culture can be damaging to the self-esteem of young women. We are black and beautiful. If you look at magazines, campaigns and runways, and no one looks like you, it can make you question if you are beautiful.” Katarina found that her true passion was for helping her people. She completed her degree and now works as a nurse.

Teo Magazine

Adelaide Fashion Festival

9. Sarsha Chisholm

Sarsha Chisholm is the daughter of former AFL player Scott Chisholm and a proud Indigenous Australian model. Dubbed to be “the next Jennifer Hawkins” by the media, Sarsha’s big break was Myer’s Spring/Summer 2019 campaign. Sarsha and her family’s heritage is the Noongar peoples of the south-west of Western Australia. Sarsha was signed by Vivien’s Models in 2017 and has since featured in publications such as InStyle and Stellar Magazine.

According to Vivien’s representatives, many international clients have taken an interest in working with Sarsha. Currently, she is still working with Myer as their Youth Ambassador while she completes her studies. Sarsha’s father, Scott, remains vocal about the frustrations of experiencing racism on the football field. During a 1999 game, a player from an opposing team called Scott a racial slur. In a 2020 interview, Scott stated that he is still affected by the comment and its aftermath. “I even felt my children didn’t want to live being an Aboriginal in the world today because that’s the way we’re labelled.” Scott, Sarsha, and their family have since felt compelled to use their profile to educate people about Aboriginal culture.

10. Casey Conway

The Iconic

#THEICONIChumans Campaign

Casey Conway is a former professional rugby league footballer of Aboriginal Australian descent. He is a proud Indigenous homosexual man and uses his platform to spread the love for LGBTQ+ within Aboriginal communities. Casey’s modelling career began shortly after his career in football ended due to a shoulder injury. He often works with Australian swimwear company aussieBum and compares keeping in shape for modelling to maintaining his fitness for football. Casey is currently a representative for the NT AIDS and Hepatitis Council campaign.

He stated that he lacked gay role models growing up and hopes that he can be a figurehead for those struggling with their sexuality. “It is okay to be gay, you can still be yourself, it doesn’t change who you are or that you belong in society.” Casey is also an activist for racial equality within Australia. He uses his social media platforms, predominantly Twitter, to repost important information about the injustices Torres Strait Islander and Aboriginal people face. He hopes that he can shed light on his communities that homosexuality is okay and shouldn’t be frowned upon.


Adelaide Fashion Festival

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