Written by Melanie Burton, November 23, 2016

Growing up in Newcastle, 16-year-old Aleyna FitzGerald had big modelling dreams, and last night those dreams came true when she was crowned the winner of Australia’s Next Top Model 2016!

We caught up with her post-finale to chat about her time on the show…

Congrats! How are you feeling?

I’m really overwhelmed actually, it’s all very surreal. It’s been a big lead-up and now it’s over, and I won, so – it’s amazing. It’s very exciting.

When did you know you wanted to be a model?

When I applied for the show I thought “What harm will it do just applying and seeing if they think I have potential or not.”

I think after every week of them saying “You can do this, you can actually do this” you do have to believe them and believe that there’s a future out of it. Now, having won, I think there is definitely potential for me to be a model, and hopefully it goes somewhere.

You nailed your Tasmania photo shoot! You were the first model to get three perfect 10s from the judges in that shoot. That must have felt pretty amazing…

I was crying I think – it was so emotional. I just hadn’t even thought that when I applied that anything would happen out of it, but still to this day I’m absolutely blown away that this has all happened for me.

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Aleyna scored three perfect 10s in her Tasmania photo shoot…

Courtesy of FOX8/Adam Flipp

What was it like working with the likes of Elle Macpherson, Gemma Ward and Miranda Kerr?

Amazing! I think Miranda was definitely a huge thing for me, because I’ve always looked up to her and known who she was, even when I didn’t know much about the industry. Having met her, she’s just as beautiful and down to earth and thoughtful as I always thought she was, so she was a great role model from when I was younger.

On one episode you said you were unsure of your personal brand and were having trouble working out your identity…

I think when we had that challenge I was put on the spot, and I was kind of questioning what I want people to think when they look at me and my clothing and what am I representing.

But I think I overthought it, I should have just been myself and I ended up doing that and it got me a win for that challenge. You just need to be yourself, you don’t want to be taken over by the industry or anything so I think that was definitely a great time to have realised that – it was a great learning experience.

How much have you changed from when you first came on the show to now?

I think I’ve grown up a little bit. I’ve always been quite mature, but having had those experiences – even just living in house without your parents there, and just trying to do all those things.

For a 16-year-old – that’s taken a bit out of your comfort zone. Even learning how to have 13 other girls around you – it’s a big environment but I think I have grown.

I’m the same person I was, but it’s definitely made me grow as a person. And I now want to do more with my life, I know what I want to do now and hopefully I can do that.

What’s your ultimate goal in the modelling industry?

Well it was to be signed with an agency, but now I’ve got that which I’m so thrilled about.

I can’t wait to work with Priscilla’s [Model Management], but hopefully I can just be international. I really want to go overseas, I want to go full steam ahead into the industry and now is the best time to do that, so to go overseas for fashion week and big campaigns and all of that.

Interview by Melanie Burton.

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