East Corrimal beauty's shot at fashion and fame

Danielle Kampers didn't see many girls who looked like her in the fashion magazines of her early teen years.

It was a revelation the day she saw Samantha Harris looking back at her from those pages; all brown skin, brown eyes, dark hair and - instantly recognised by Miss Kampers - indigenous, the same as her.

The East Corrimal 18-year-old is one of 18 finalists in an Australia-wide model search, poised to walk the catwalk at Australian Indigenous Fashion Week in April.

The competition, held in partnership with lead modelling agency Chic Management, is aimed at providing a leg-up to aspiring Aboriginal and Torres Straight Islander models, so that the fashion industry might become more representative of the real world.

"I don't think there are enough opportunities [for indigenous models], especially when they're out in the middle of the country," Miss Kampers said.

"You notice they're not in the magazines and you just question yourself."

In the lead-up to the fashion week, which showcases the work of upcoming indigenous designers, Miss Kampers will attend a series of workshops aimed at nurturing her abilities, with tutelage provided on fashion styling, health and wellbeing, career planning and the technical aspects of runway and commercial modelling.

The opportunity comes during a gap year for the Irish-Aboriginal Miss Kampers, a graduate of Holy Spirit College who works as a waitress in a North Wollongong cafe.

She secured her passage to the finals with a series of photos snapped by her mother, Mareena, with little expectation of success.

"Mum just got the camera out and took them out the back [of the house]," Miss Kampers said.

"I submitted the entry form on the closing date, and the last minute, having no hope, so I was really, really surprised."

She was made a finalist on the say-so of a judging panel that included a familiar face - Samantha Harris.

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