The upcoming model Amy Willerton really wanted to become famous. And since signing up with the management company owned by the model Katie Price, better known as Jordan, and winning Price’s reality show, the nineteen-year-old model has gained fame far beyond her home city of Bristol. While the tabloids were savouring the details of her turbulent relations and quarrels with Price, Amy came up with another surprise by winning the title of Miss London. What has this meant for her?
I fell into it. I always wanted to be in the media, do journalism, maybe. I love this industry, I am one of those people who want my job to be different every day. But I became a model, got scouted when I was 15 on the streets.
Did someone stalk you and say to you ‘come with me’?
Sort of... It was a woman – I was out with my little sister, we were going shopping, and she was following us. It turned out, she had a model agency and offered me some work, and then I made it into a full-time career. I was supposed to continue studying. I got accepted into Cardiff University but instead did a reality TV show, and gave up my place. I might go back to studying as I love learning new things. But right now, as everything has been so fast-paced and my career is growing, it’s not something I will do.
When a girl starts doing charity work at 17, it’s surprising...
I started it when I was young because my brother is severely disabled. He lives at a special school part-time, and part -time at home. He’s got one more year to spend at school and then he’ll legally become an adult, which means our family will need to rely on government funding. One of my parents will have to give up their career to look after him. My brother is mentally a one year- old, he has no choice about his future, and he will always have to rely on others. I did my first charity event when I was 17 – it was a fashion extravaganza in Bristol where all the models were also performers – singers, dancers, free runners. I wanted the show to be interesting for men, too, as they don’t embrace fashion and clothes like women. We raised a lot of money, and I was really pleased.
It all went to the Variety Club, which is a children’s charity. It went towards its ‘Sunshine Coaches’ – they were given to schools around the country, allowing children to go on trips. Sometimes parents leave their children in special schools where the kids don’t have much of a life. The Charity gives them a chance to have fun, and do various activities. When I won Miss Bristol, I continued doing work for other charities, and my whole family got involved. For example, my dad does the Ironman Triathlon every year and raises money for charity – he’s in his 50s. I don’t know how he does it!
You have a younger sister – is she as beautiful as you?
She’s 15, and looks like me but has really dark, almost black, hair. She’s a lovely girl, really kind-hearted, and sometimes worse than me. I heard her crying upstairs in the house once and asked why, and she said she was thinking about the kids in Africa. I am sure she will do lots of great things in the future.
You are blond and clever – how do you deal with all the jokes about dumb blondes?
I suppose if you’re very clever, you can use this stereotype to your advantage when you feel like it.
After school you applied to the University of Cardiff but then took a gap year. Will you go back to studying?
Currently, I’m not studying as I’ve concentrated on modelling. We’ll see what happens. With today’s climate I meet so many graduates who can’t find work when they leave university as employers prefer people with experience, not qualifications. Universities have become so popular that they ‘ve lost their prestige...
Miss England is happening in June...
Yes, and as Miss London I’m going straight to the finals, the winner then will go to Miss World. This summer I’ll be competing against 50 other girls.
It’s a chance, an amazing opportunity – to be Miss London when the whole world will be looking at this city is an honour. I’ve lots of meetings lined up to make sure that we use the opportunities. Even if I don’t win the Miss England competition, no one will take the Miss London title away from me!
Have you ever dreamed of becoming a beauty queen?
I wanted to be a princess, to wear a pretty dress and crown. You see, I didn’t let that fantasy go – that’s why I’m taking part in beauty pageants.
Is it true you were bullied as a child?
Yes, children can always find something to pick on. For example, at the age of 14-15, teenagers are pressured into smoking, drinking, and drugs. I’ve never touched a cigarette or tried drugs. I’ve never felt it was for me.
You grew up in Bristol – it’s a tough city...
It can be, and the school I went to was quite rough and from what I remember, verbal and physical abuse were quite common. So then I decided I’d rather be on my own than having the wrong friends.
When a foreigner goes to UK school – he has an accent – I can see how he might have been bullied. But you were English, pretty, and confident – why did you get bullied?
I was a very shy person then. I got more confident towards the end of school when I myself started an anti-bullying campaign – younger students could come to me and talk about what was going on and I could give them some advice, as I knew what they were going through. I had to, as the teachers would do nothing about bullying. Back then, I had braces, glasses, and I was a lot bigger – I lost a lot of weight when I was 18. Kids can be mean – there was a disabled girl at school, and one big girl, who you wouldn’t want to mess with, started a hate campaign against her. Kids would take pictures of this poor girl who couldn’t defend herself, and post them on the internet with abusive comments. In the end, I had to publicly put the bully down and stand by this disabled girl.
I would tell them that school is a short period in their lives, that they need to work on higher goals, concentrate on the future, and not let the bullies break them. I can see bullies need help too – maybe sometimes they were bullied themselves, that’s why they need to put someone down to make themselves feel powerful.
Have you kept in contact with any friends from school?
I took only a few friends away from school. I can count the closest people on one hand, so those are the real ones, the ones who have always stuck by me. It’s nice to know they will be with me, no matter what.
You now have more opportunities to do charity work, since becoming Miss London...
Yes, even when I won Miss Bristol before that, the newspapers were more interested in what I had to say, and even more so with Miss London. The title puts you on a platform that people care to listen to. It’s a fantastic and powerful opportunity, and I hope the other girls in the competition use it, too.
Do you have some sponsors and designers already approaching you to represent their products?
Yes, we already get so many emails and phone calls with offers. My agent advises me what to wear now, which offers to take. For the Miss London competition, for example, I wore an Armani dress, and now the brand wants to do more work with me. I feel like a fashion ambassador – it’s not only about getting the most expensive dress but about understanding the message behind the clothes, being in tune with what’s happening in fashion now.
You started working with the glamour model Katie Price but then terminated your contract. Why did you do that? Wasn’t it a risky decision?
She’s a lot more powerful in the media than me, so it was difficult to get the message across. They weren’t allowing me to do what I wanted to do and be who I am. Katie was pushing me more towards glamour modelling. I don’t mind doing lingerie shoots but I want it to be elegant and respectable, artistic, not tacky. It’s a very fine line, that's why you need to work with the right people. I felt that direction for my career wasn’t right. I made the right decision. There was a lot of mistreating towards me, but instead of going to the papers and blaming people, I thought I would work hard and show people with action rather than words who I am.
Do you make decisions yourself or consult your parents or someone else?
My mum and dad aren’t involved as I moved away from home. Their careers are far from what I’m doing now – Mum is a primary schoolteacher and Dad works for an insurance company. I have an agent and now I’m meeting more people from the industry. I’ve started presenting the programme The World of Luxury on Fashion TV, and interviewed the heads of big companies – Dior, Hermes, Vertu – during the exhibition at Basel. Presenting is something I’d like to get more involved in – I found it really easy, it was interesting to meet these very respectable people. I’ve also become the face of Geneva-based Shawish Jewellery – they produce very daring pieces.
You did Drama at A-level. Would you like to study drama again later on?
I love acting but I’m not sure if it’s necessary to study more. I believe acting has to be creative, you’re either good at it or not. The best thing I can do now is to make the right contacts and hopefully one day get an audition and see what happens. Half of the actors don’t train! I don’t want to drag on my education for too long.
The Russian super-model Natalia Vodianova also does charity work – she builds children’s playgrounds. You know, her sister is also disabled – your stories are a little similar.
I didn’t know that. Anybody who grew up with a disabled person knows how lucky he is just to be able to walk and make his own decisions.
How did you lose weight?
I took up running and started going to the gym. Then I went to Asia, where I started using chopsticks and it changed my relationship with food. I still eat a good amount as I want to be healthy .
Have any companies given you any expensive presents yet?
Yes, I got given some watches at Basel, which was nice. They were with white gold diamonds and crocodile skin. I can’t complain - I’m a lucky girl.
Now your standards are higher, it will be harder for you to find a boyfriend...
I’ve already met a really nice man – he’s 25. Six years is a nice age difference. I don’t think I could have a relationship with a guy my age. He’s really supportive. This relationship is quite new, so I don’t want to say much about it.
PHOTO: © SASHA GUSOV