Joanne Nicolas is a multi-talented individual with a diverse range of occupations. She is a supermodel, solicitor, fitness instructor, model teacher, small-scale property developer, and, most importantly, a mother of three. Her children include two boys and a newborn baby girl named Av’e Maria, who was born on Valentine’s Day.
Joanne is known for her strong work ethic. Despite being six months pregnant, she strutted down the runway during Paris Fashion Week and modeled for numerous designer lookbooks. She has always wanted to be a mother to a baby girl, and now she has fulfilled her dream with the arrival of Av’e Maria. Joanne’s modeling career has spanned two decades, and she recently achieved the title of Global Elite Supermodel of 2022. She was scouted for Victoria’s Secret casting in 2011 in New York and judged and mentored on Elite Supermodel Australia 2021. She collaborated with America’s Next Top Model, Chanel, Louis Vuitton, Dior, Dolce Gabbana, Issey Miyake, Hugo Boss, Loreal, Karl Lagerfeld, Myer, David Jones, Westpac Bank, Westfield, Maybelline, Vera Wang, Sony, Max Mara, and numerous others. Remarkably, she achieved all of this without an Instagram account, relying solely on her posing skills and the ability to shoot quickly. Joanne has always believed in laying a solid foundation, including perfecting her poses and runway walk. As a result, every pose and walk is flawless, making every shot an ideal one. She is known for being a hard worker, and no brand or client is beneath her. She accepts jobs from both big and small brands, believing that every brand deserves a chance to shine. She feels humbled and grateful that they have chosen her to represent their brand.
Over the past six years, Joanne has established herself as a supermodel, primarily working in New York, Paris, and Milan. However, she has also shared her expertise as a model teacher with thousands of models across various academies, including the Academy of Modeling Excellence, the Style Academy, Elite, and Luxe.
GEQ magazine recently caught up with Joanne to discuss her journey in the industry and here’s what went down:
Congratulations on the birth of your baby girl. Tell us a little about her name and how you’re feeling about this new addition.
Thanks so much. My baby girl was born at the Royal Hospital for Women in Randwick. She was born on Valentine’s Day and is just a quiet baby girl. Her name is Av’e Maria which is one of my fave church hymns, and it doesn’t matter how I’m feeling – if I hear that Church song, it just gives me so much peace and instant calm. Her middle name Valentina was added because she was born at 9:15 on Valentine’s Day. I feel like a lifelong dream of having my own girl has finally been realised. After having two boys and being super content with them, I am super thankful this baby is not just healthy, but that she’s a little girl. I can do all the things with her I’ve always wanted. It was no secret to those who knew my wish for a girl. Im elated; I can’t stop smiling when I see her and hold her. She’s been what I’ve prayed for such a long time.
What was it like for you growing up and your family upbringing?
I’m one of four children from a strict Catholic family and private Catholic schooling. I remember my childhood and teens as a majority of sports and have a massive collection of sports trophies that don’t fit into our cabinet. I had straight A’s across all my subjects and enjoyed PDHPE the most, in fact, I was always first in PDHPE. I also enjoyed work experience at Sydney Chambers tremendously with a Barrister and mentor of now 20 years Rory McCrudden, His first comment to me upon meeting me was “Oh, what are you doing here? Go and become a supermodel.”
When my parents divorced, I decided to stay with my dad and take care of him as best I could. Having taken the road less travelled is something I feel has shaped me incredibly. My dad demands excellence, and he is the hardest worker. My aunty and grandmother have played an important role in my womanhood, celebrating my achievements and I love them tremendously.
You’re unique in the sense of being a Supermodel, a Solicitor, a fitness instructor model teacher, and also into property renovations/ development. Can you tell us more about how you managed to acquire different titles and how you managed to do so many things as well as being a mum?
I always thought sports would be a career path. I travelled to Malaysia at 14 for netball, but I could have easily had a career in elite-level running as my times were relatively fast. I decided to study law as I was simultaneously offered a Scholarship for Law and Certificate 3 in fitness at Tafe. It was mentally gruelling. I became a solicitor by age 22 via the NSW Law Society and graduated with Certificate 3 at TAFE, qualifying me as a fitness instructor. Modelling jobs were throughout my studies, and I travelled to New York after being scouted by Elite Models New York and Victoria’s Secret by Monica Mitro, the VP. My studies were intense as I was on a Scholarship, but it was worth the late nights of study after I graduated, and I could solely focus on climbing the modelling ladder in New York. I’ve naturally also been called through the last eight years to teach at various Academies all over Australia, as well as a Judge and Mentor at Elite Supermodel Australia, which was an incredible opportunity. The title of property developer (small scale) comes from my passion for property and turning ordinary into extraordinary.
What area of law do I mostly enjoy and work in?
I work primarily in construction law and criminal law. I really enjoyed studying my LLM Masters in Law at Sydney University, particularly Intellectual Property, however, it’s such a niche area, but what I most enjoy is criminal law and construction law. It also pays off to have construction clients as they always help me with my renovations on properties, and my house has been texture rendered three times by my renderer client. It’s so white I can’t look at it when the sun shines on it – it’s quite blinding. I have had Members (the equivalent of Local Court Magistrates of NCAT ) Moss and Livingstone both state after winning my cases “excellent lawyering “ Miss Nicolas, and “always 1000 steps ahead Miss Nicolas” at NCAT. With 15 years of experience of being a solicitor, I find those compliments mean gold to me. I enjoy criminal law and helping clients’ situations. I don’t judge my clients – that’s God’s job.
What’s your 20-year career highlight?
Over 20 years, there are so many that come to mind. What first comes to mind is being selected as the Global Elite Supermodel of 2022. I am so humbled to have received it on my 20th anniversary year of modelling with an AMAZING bunch of people like Mike Ilagan, Sue Turner, and Vicki Chew. Also, being in demand for the whole 20 years makes me feel humbled that my look and hard work are appreciated by the brands. Definitely, some career highlights include Victoria’s Secret runway in New York, Judging and Mentoring at Elite Supermodel Australia, strutting a runway for Oppo with America’s Next Top Model, as well as high fashion brands such as Chanel, Dior, Louis Vuitton, Dolce Gabbana, Paris Fashion Week, Karl Lagerfeld, Max Mara, L’Oréal on International Day of Women, Balenciaga, Westfield, Vera Wang, Sony, David Jones, and Myer – they all make me feel so accomplished and Im so grateful Ive been able to make a career from my passion. Magazine covers always bring a smile to my face, and I am so immensely humbled and elated shooting this cover two weeks after having my baby girl. I love this magazine and its director, and shooting in one of my favourite Sutherland locations is just icing on the cake. We shared a bottle of Moet, and I am still on this amazing natural high from one career highlight to another.
Have your modelling and law worlds ever collided?
Actually yes. When I was Judge and Mentor at Elite Supermodel Australia, I was also asked to edit their legal retainer, and I enjoyed doing both roles utilising my legal knowledge. One minute I’m at the Judging table asking models to see their walk and tell me about them, and by night legally drafting and editing.
A previous boss walked in with her daughter to audition on the casting day. When her turn came, we gave each other the biggest hug. I hadn’t seen her in years. She was an awesome boss, always letting me leave work early if I had a model event. When Im in court, I can just tell other solicitors are aware of my modelling profile, but I’m serious about my clients’ situations and achieving resolve for their legal problems. I try mostly to appear in court electronically these days. When I studied for my LLM Masters in Law, my mediation teacher recognised me from modelling and stated she was impressed with my modelling and legal/ academic achievements.
How do you cope with fame and constantly being in the spotlight for modelling?
It’s such a progressive fame journey, but now it seems everybody everywhere I go, someone wants a selfie or autograph. I don’t mind the cameras flashing, as I am generally sociable. Sometimes it can be overwhelming, but I switch off at home through exercise, jogging in our home gym, boxercise, aerobics sessions I’ve made for myself, prayer, planting new plants in the garden, and maintaining regular contact with my loved ones who make life feel at home.
I love spending quality time with my children in the backyard and the sandpit, and I love nurturing their talents. They have a way of making me feel the cameras are far away. When I was at the Judging table for Elite Supermodel, so many of the models were shaking when they would talk to me so nervously, and I would say, why are you shaking? Just breathe. They would say because I’ve always wanted to meet you, and you’re right there. I didn’t see myself in that way.
How do you keep looking young and slim after having children, and what are your fitness and beauty secrets?
No secrets at all. I’m a vegetarian and have been my entire life. I eat as organically as possible, and salmon is my favourite food. I love blueberries and strawberries and eat PLENTY of fruits and vegetables. My year 12 jersey said ‘99% fat-free’. I’ve always eaten healthily, and water is my best friend. I drink so much water, and I remember fitness and sport has been part of my life way before modelling ever was. I exercise daily and play many sports in the backyard with my children. I do like to train downstairs in our home gym, and holding planks is something I attribute a strong core to, and I do my own homemade aerobics sessions. My husband holds the mitts up for boxercise, and as he was a personal trainer, we both value fitness. I believe good skin and looking young are all in the food, no illicit drugs, alcohol on special occasions, good sleep, and not stressing about things. Every year or two at Christmas, I just get peels such as chemical peels and microdermabrasion, and it keeps me looking young. My skincare is Cosmelan and Sekissei creams from Japan, and a sunscreen over SPF 50+ daily. These brands tend to work for me, as well as L’Oréal products. I try not to wear makeup for too long as I believe the skin needs to breathe.
What achievements am I most proud of?
I am mostly so happy with being a mum. I love my children to death, and they are my biggest achievement, especially my little girl who was almost going to be a neonatal baby as she was very tiny and somehow made it to a healthy baby born on Valentine’s Day. It’s no secret to anyone that knows me. I have always wanted a little girl, and I’m so blessed she’s finally here. I’m so blessed to have them.
I am also super content with the fact I’ve, from a young age, put my wealth in the right places and been able to buy property in my 20s without a bank. Not many people can buy property without a bank. I attribute this to my taking life seriously from a young age, working so damn hard at law and modelling from the get-go, taking modelling seriously. I’ve gone from building my modelling portfolio to building a property portfolio. I’ve made wise choices regarding property, and I remember the day I bought the house I’m currently at, the real estate agent Ben Gibbons asked if the cheque would bounce. We laughed, and I assured him it wasn’t, and five days later, he was handing over the key. I owned my Mercedes from a young age. I wasn’t even legally allowed to drive it and had an RMS exemption to drive a supercharged vehicle. My Galia Lahav handmade in Israel wedding gown was quite pricy at $20,000, but at the end of the day, what makes me happy is not these tangibles but rather the love of family and friends and the things which I can’t see that give me inner peace.
Congratulations on the birth of your new baby girl. How are you all doing, and how did your two little boys react to her arrival?
Thank you. Av’e Maria is honestly the quietest baby ever. I don’t feel her presence compared to when my boys were newborns. She doesn’t even cry when she has soiled her nappy. I don’t feel like I have a newborn; she’s an angel baby.
Matthew was so protective, acting like a goalkeeper to her cot, saying no, Nicolas, stay away from the baby. Nicolas was so excited, and he was saying can I pat it? Can I touch it? Where is she from, mum? He was trying so hard to pat her, and Matthew was so protective of her. I have to explain to them every day she’s from mummy’s tummy, remember .. the baby in mummy’s tummy. I always find Nick trying to pat her, feed her a bottle, and try to carry her. I have always stopped him, but he’s so excited by her. Matthew is just the most precious caring brother to her. He won’t let anyone touch her. I can already tell they will both be great older brothers for her.
What is your parenting style like?
I would say strict but give them heaps of love. Love needs nurturing daily, and kids like routine. I shower my children with love, but they know they cant misbehave and that mum is boss. I am big on routine, and they’re in many sports. My boys attend swimming, athletics, soccer, and bowling classes. The bowling class is more so fun class they do after soccer than competitive junior league bowling. Im constantly playing with their soccer and any active sports in our backyard and park. I am big on sports and the fact children should be active. I don’t let them watch tv unless it’s phonics or something they can learn from. I live by the same principle and think my parents have done a great job providing that healthy outlet for sport. They keep bugging me for gadgets, but I won’t give in. I take them to the library, get them to borrow books, and read to them every night. My son Nick is big on books, and Matthew sometimes wants to play in the sand pit or soccer with me. Our nanny knows my routine and my focus on sports and healthy food. My boys have adjusted well to my busy schedule swimmingly, and all their teachers say they’re happy little kids.
Would you let your children model?
I get asked this question a lot. The answer is only if they want to. I don’t think childhood should be commodified, particularly if it’s just the parents who want their son or daughter to model. You can never get your childhood back full stop. It’s really important to me for my children to have stability, love, and the best possible childhood memories. There’s always time to model, ONLY if they want.. and I personally won’t push any of my children to model or make any career in general that they are not passionate about. They won’t go far if they’re not passionate about something away. It needs to be that fire inside for something, with any career, really.
Yes, I admit some children are just made for the camera, and I’ve taught many child models as young as seven who have a natural modelling personality in various Academies. Certain personalities cope very well, and other times when I’m just not sure the child has an idea of what’s actually going on at the photo shoot, I can’t take any instruction from photographers. I’m wondering if the child wants this at all or if it is just the parents. It’s important to strike a balance as children’s self-esteem and memories they carry through to adulthood were discussed here, not something I take lightly. I would only expose them to that world if they showed signs of wanting to model, and only then would I help them succeed.
Tell us where we could expect to find you in private or spare time.
Spare time? What is that? I fed the homeless every Thursday night for more than 15 years in Sydney and New York with the Church United Palace Cathedral. My time has become so pressed I now struggle to find time for myself. I also don’t have the luxury of privacy anymore, so I find myself making private donations to good causes instead of being in the public eye helping hand out food face to face, which I regularly did in Sydney, New York, through UPC Church ministry. It’s just difficult as fame changes things. I have a massive soft spot for homeless people and those of ABTSI heritage. They are the gatekeepers and have suffered so much historically, so it’s important for me to help them at any opportunity I can despite not getting any money from it. I wish the Government would help more with homeless people as I see large amounts allocated to things like renovating stadiums. Still, yet there are more and more people becoming homeless. It really needs Government intervention and wouldn’t blow the budget to build homeless housing facilities, which takes priority over a stadium renovation. I am finalising my model book and tending to the newborn at the moment, so spare time doesn’t exist.
At the moment, and to be honest, for some time, spare time hasn’t existed. I’ve been such a busy mum, model travelling both internationally and interstate, model teacher teaching models all over Australia even amidst covid via Zoom, solicitor, and fixing up property spare time seems to be a thing of the past. But I hope to find that balance in the next 20 years where I can have more me time and children time with less nanny. You will always find me daily, finding time to jog or do planks. I have a green thumb, and sometimes I make that trip to Bunnings to choose some plants to add to the garden.
Congratulations on reaching 20 years of modelling. What are your plans and career goals for the next 20 years?
Firstly, Thanks so much. I celebrated shooting this with a bottle of Moet at the same location I shot at, and it was the first time I saw a heart on the rocks, and I have previously been lucky enough to see a whale surface in the past. As for the next 20 years, first, I will be publishing my model advice book, continuing practising in law, and working on the next property development. This property is ready for sale, so I’m looking keenly for the next project. I will always enjoy being in the courtroom advocating, renovating, fitness, and teaching models. There’s been so much interest in me going back and modelling for Paris Fashion Week and shooting more campaigns. There has also been interest in New York for me to become an agent and teacher leading a New York-based agency. I am weighing up so many options at the moment. I’d like to further my law career and take my time and pray on things, so I make the right choice given I have young children. I feel I’ve given enough of myself to modelling and now it’s time to give my other talents time to shine.
On a last note, I’m so grateful to have reached this 20th Anniversary Milestone of modelling, especially shooting this cover with an amazing magazine. I’ve worked so hard and am so grateful to the modelling industry for giving me so many opportunities. I’ve met incredible people, made lifelong friends, and this cover is something that I will treasure forever.