Getting to Know Grace Quealy
Melbourne-based model and mental health ambassador Grace Quealy tells us about her soon to be launched website, Icarus, and also about her music tastes and why she is a “100% certified dagster”:
I am… fine. How are you? I am a master of the ‘fine’ mask. I am a master of convincing people that everything is great, fine, dandy. Most of the time when the ‘fine’ mask is on, I am absolutely not fine. If I had been asked to write this piece last year, or even at the start of this year I would have written ‘I am…a giant’ and spoken about the joys of being 6’1. That piece probably would have been funnier but instead I want to be honest. It is ok to not be fine and it is even more ok to tell others that you are not fine.
Modelling is… misunderstood. I believe that modelling is possibly one of the strangest professions in the world. I walk in to the studio with bags under my eyes, flat hair and comfy clothes and within two hours I am transformed into a different person. Models are beautiful people (duh), yet when you walk into a casting room you are just another one of those beautiful people. You become accustomed to comparing and judging yourself. I know that sounds like a terrible thing to complain about, and it is, but those insecurities do not stay in the casting room, they leave with you and stick in the back of your mind. The truth is that you are either right or wrong for the job. You may be blonde and they want a brunette or you may have 2000 instagram followers and they want 200,000. It is not personal, it is business. You need to have thick skin in this industry. Easier said than done.
Aside from modelling… I am passionate about mental health advocacy. I have recently become an ambassador for Headspace and I am in the process of creating a website for young people with mental illness. My friend recently told me about a Stephen Fry quote, ‘depression isn’t a straightforward response to a bad situation, depression just is, like the weather’. No matter how you choose to portray your life, it is important to remember that, like the weather, sometimes it is bright and beautiful and other times it hails. So like the weather, lets start talking about it. Mental illness is scary and isolating yet no one should feel alone. The aim of my website is to create a space where people can realise that they are not alone, they are part of a community. The website is called Icarus and will be divided into three sections – live, chat, inspire. Live will provide a range of inspiration for living a healthy life from recipes to naturopathy and music. Chat will be a directory of where to find help with profiles on counsellors in universities and private clinics. Inspire will be a monthly story from someone affected by mental illness. My ultimate goal is to reduce the stigma around mental illness. I want to create a fun space for people to access whether they are looking for ways to feel better in their bodies or to find a counsellor that is right for them.
Home is… where you can wear your ugg boots.
I spend too much time… cooking. I cook and bake when I’m stressed. Well actually I cook and bake when I have exams or an assessment due so maybe it’s more just delicious procrastination. I enjoy trying to make recipes healthy although this usually results in expensive cardboard. #cleaneating.
I’m currently listening to… Georgia by Vance Joy, on repeat. I have actually listened to the new Vance Joy album so many times that I now know all the lyrics off by heart. I may be a little bit in love. The other albums I know off by heart are – Blue by Joni Mitchell, Grace by Jeff Buckley and five albums by The National. Actually, I can totally recite several Spice Girls albums – stop trying to be so cool Grace! I am a bit of a National groupie. I went to their concert at the Sydney Myer Music bowl this year and it was possibly one of the best nights of my life. I considered abandoning all my life plans and following them on the road. I wasn’t that into music growing up.
I spent six years playing clarinet when I was younger (seriously Grace stop trying to be cool) and I wish I had learnt guitar or piano. I started falling in love with different bands when a friend of mine gave me a USB filled with music before I went to LA. I now use music as a form of therapy and I have a slightly narcissistic tendency to try and manipulate the lyrics of songs to be about my life. When I listen to songs with my headphones I like to imagine the song is my own personal soundtrack. I have fallen in love with people because of their taste in music. I identify holidays, dates and people with different songs. Good music has the same effect on me as love; it courses through my body and plays with my soul. So if you listen to the lyrics of Georgia you may find out a little bit about my soul.
It might surprise people to learn that… I am a complete and utter dag! 100% certified dagster. I am a member of Star Walking, the longest lasting Star Wars appreciation society in Australia. I dance like an old man trying to dry himself with a towel. I quite often bust out a little jiggy dance move in public spaces. I say words like ‘bust out’ and ‘jiggy’. My cats’ names are Buffy and Spike and I hope to one day have a black cat called Angel that I can call Angelus when he’s being naughty! When I am excited about something I do happy flappy hands, which involves doing single handclaps and bouncing up and down. I quite often point my fingers around whilst winking and saying ‘eyyyy’ like I’m trying to be The Fonz. At school I was President of the Student Representative Council, a member of the debating team, state-finalist in the spelling bee, editor of the Year 12 newsletter and at one point the proud student representative at the buildings and ground committee meetings. I wagged school once to attend a protest in the city but notified both my parents. When I laugh I don’t make any noise just a long silence with intermittent shrieks to inhale oxygen. What can I say? I am quite a catch!
In the future… I hope to have Icarus worldwide.
Interview by Bobby Townsend