Thursday, October 11, 2007

Supermodel Gemma Ward a hot act

Supermodel Gemma's a hot act
Splashing out ... Gemma Ward wearing Valentino last week, (inset top) with Toni Collette and Erik Thomson in The Black Balloon and (inset bottom) starring in the upcoming film. Pictures: Black Balloon Productions, AFP

STRIKING the perfect pout wasn't the only thing on Australian supermodel Gemma Ward's mind as she paraded on the Paris catwalk last week.

The world's No. 1 high fashion stunner is also establishing herself as hot acting property, using her international modelling career to boost her profile for the big screen.

Sydney-based director Elissa Down, who gave the 19-year-old her first taste of acting in 2001 with short film Pink Pyjamas, says Ward oozes X-factor.

Down says when it came to casting a lead actress to star in her directorial feature film debut, The Black Balloon, Ward was top of her wish list.

"When I first saw Gemma all those years ago at just 13, you could tell she was going to make it," Downs said.

"She is a very natural actor and so engaging. Some people wondered about having a model (in The Black Balloon) and now they have seen her work they are like 'oh my god'. There is something personally pleasing about that for me. She is just so good."

The Perth-born performer appears alongside Toni Collette and Jack Thomson as Jackie in the coming-of-age drama, which will hit screens early next year.

Down wrote the part with Ward in mind.

"When we started writing we had Gemma in mind and then bless her cotton socks she went and got famous on us," she said. "But she was still interested."

The Black Balloon is Ward's third film, with her turn as a masked stranger opposite Liv Tyler in suspense thriller The Strangers set for release late next year.

As the world's 10th highest-earning model, Ward took home $3.4 million in the past year but has scaled back catwalk commitments as acting takes priority.

For the Paris fashion shows last week Ward walked only for the top houses such as Celine, Givenchy and Balmain.

At 19, her new womanly curves were also on show this week filling out the forms of a diaphanous gown at Valentino - a stark contrasts to past years when she was known for "doll like" girlie looks.

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