Model Jessica Gomes replaced Miranda Kerr as the face of David Jones in March. The Sports Illustrated model touched down in Sydney this week to attend the department store’s black-tie 175th birthday celebrations. Kate Waterhouse caught up with the 27-year-old to talk about filling Kerr’s shoes, finding success in her home country and having her sights on Hollywood.
Congratulations on your new role. Did you have any idea you were going to be the new David Jones ambassador?
No, but it was always a dream of mine, so it was very exciting when I found out. I still can’t believe it; it really is huge. It is a big deal in Australia and it’s a great gig for a model. Obviously we have seen what it has done for Megan [Gale] and Miranda [Kerr], so I definitely feel very lucky. And I’m proud of myself, too – I’ve worked really hard to get where I am today.
You are a household name in South Korea and in the US. Is it nice to finally be finding that success in your home country?
Yes. I’ve worked with people like [famed photographer] Mario Testino and had my own TV show in Korea and they are amazing achievements that I’ve conquered overseas. But conquering this achievement in my own country is the most rewarding because I’m proud of being Australian, so it’s really nice to be recognised for what you do in your home town.
You are becoming recognised in Australia. Have you found the spotlight more intense since you arrived back in Sydney this week?
Yes, when I arrived at the airport and there was paparazzi and everything. I was like, ”Oh my god, this is so funny!” It felt like I was Madonna or something. I was laughing to myself. It’s a great feeling to be supported by your home country and for people to recognise you for what you’re doing.
You were once told you would never be the face of David Jones because of your ethnicity. How do you feel about that now?
Yes, and there has been a lot of talk about the whole racial thing and how ”she overcame racial taunts” and I think, oh, how dramatic. Yes, it was pointed out to me because obviously I’m ethnically ambiguous – I’m half Asian and half Portuguese. I had been told that it would never happen because it wasn’t the ”Australian aesthetic” and I thought, OK, cool. I started modelling 10 years ago and it was just different then and I had to go to Asia [to find work] and that is all good; I’m happy with the journey I had to take to get to where I am now. I’m really happy that Australia is now embracing all these different cultures because that is what the world is coming to now. Look at America, they have conquered a lot of racial problems; they now have a black president. It’s great that we are embracing and becoming more open-minded about cultures.