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Sunday 22 July 2018

Down-to-earth and beautiful, why Hannah is still our Top Model

REVEALED: The low-down on falcons, fry-ups and that nude photo shoot

SHE might describe herself as a "plain Jane", but Hannah Devane is anything but.

When we meet for our interview, the hottest new addition to the Irish modelling scene turns heads instantly with her enviable physique.

This is despite her insisting that she has "never been so curvy" and loves McDonald's.

It's been five months since she exited Britain And Ireland's Next Top Model, and Hannah's had a hard time keeping it quiet before last night's episode.

"Obviously at the time I was devastated. It's like getting a little taste of what you want and then suddenly, it's all over," Hannah reveals.

"So it is hard because you're living in this house with these girls away from home and you get used to it very fast.

"But then they're like 'you have to head home now'.

"That was disappointing but I tried to stay positive about it. It's hard to go from modelling every day to not modelling at all and then going back to your normal life. It was a hard transition."

There was huge shock among her Irish fans after she was eliminated.

The show saw contestants flying to Ireland for a shoot at Carton House with celebrity photographer Barry McCall with Yvonne Keating as guest judge.



falcon

But Ballsbridge native Hannah explains how her heart dropped when she realised they would have a falcon as a prop during the Irish shoot.

"I'm not a fan of birds and when I spotted that, my face just dropped. I just thought 'just suck it up, hopefully it will be a cool picture'. We had this glove on and all the girls before me had the bird placed on their hand.

"But when I got to the set, they said 'we're just doing it a bit different this time -- we're going to have it flying from behind you instead,' so I actually found that really nerve-wrecking."

However, she still didn't survive the tough elimination process and was eliminated after being deemed "too nice" and not edgy enough.

"It had been said to be that, I was too commercial but I'll never regret the experience. I gave it 100pc," she states.

Nearly five months have passed since she left the show and she admits it was hard keeping it all under wraps.

"I could only tell my parents, my sister and my best friend," she explained.

As well as getting a job as a manager in Dundrum store Hollister (she has just left), she was in Miss Universe Ireland contest and signed up to Andrea Roche's AR Agency.

She also confirms that she has a boyfriend but discreetly declines to go into too many details about his identity as it's "still early days".

Chatty and super-sweet, she almost seems too nice for the programme, given all the catfights in the model house. It's the same adjective used by the judges -- but it's a claim she rejects.

"I don't think you can be too nice. You do have to be thick skinned about things said to you but I don't think you have to be bitchy and mean to other people just to get ahead," she said.

"It's a really stressful environment. You're all together 24 hours a day, you're often woken at 5am. You want to do well but you've all got your personal stresses going on."

The beauty, who laughs how she used to hide during the worst fights, added: "You're missing your family and it's easy to rub each other up the wrong way. Things that never usually annoy you wreck your head.

"But it's like the way you fight with your sister -- afterwards, you still love them to bits and they're still your best friend."

Hannah is adamant that it's not a "bitchy industry" but admits that it can take its toll.

"You have to have tough skin and go into it with the right attitude. If somebody criticises you, you can either take it as an insult and just block it out or you can try and learn from it.

"It's hard to take comments about how you look and that's not something you can change. You are the way you are," she continued.

The most successful Irish contestant ever to appear on the show, she proved she has no body issues after revealing all for a daunting nude photo shoot.

And she said her supermodel mentor Elle Macpherson helped give her the confidence to strip off.

"For me the nude one was my best shoot, I was really at ease. Elle just told me to be really natural and even if it feels a bit wrong, it can look right and not to be afraid to play around with a pose.

"At the start when you're not used to being in front of the camera, you can be a bit shy and you just have to be more confident. I found her advice invaluable.



tasteful

"You don't have things to hide behind like mad hair or a fancy dress. It's just you. For me, it was important just to be natural and portray a woman as a beautiful thing rather than selling something.

"I wasn't nervous about doing it -- I was actually cooking a fry up that morning and the girls were like 'Hannah!' but I like my food, I wouldn't be able to starve myself."

She also hit back at industry insiders who claimed that aspiring models shouldn't be stripping off so early in their career.

"It is something you have to be careful of," she admits. "You want it to be tasteful and to represent yourself well.

"But I've watched all the shows, I knew it was going to be tasteful and done by the best photographers. In a normal model's career, you wouldn't get the chance to work with such great people.

"I didn't feel uncomfortable at all about it and my parents were really supportive. They wouldn't be bothered by things like that. You can see that it was part of a skincare campaign -- it's not just photos of naked girls and they portrayed it in the right way. I didn't have much of an issue with it."

However, her confidence didn't come naturally as she reveals how it took her years to accept her 5'11" figure, describing herself as a late bloomer.

"I've never done a day's work in the gym and I've never really liked being this skinny little thing and was always trying to put on weight," she explains.

"I never thought of myself as striking in any way and was a bit of a wallflower and very shy in school.

"I thought I had bad skin and was lanky and awkward. It took a while for me to be comfortable with myself.

"It didn't really matter how other people saw me, I didn't get that self confidence until I went to college and really came into my own. I used to watch all the Next Top Model shows but being on it was something I would only dream about."

In a far cry from the usual vacuous image of models, Hannah is also a dark horse when it comes to her personal life.

As well as having just qualified with a degree in Social Science from UCD, she has an impressive history of fundraising, having drummed up more than €53,000 for the Hope Foundation.

She has completed three lengthy treks through the Himalayan foothills in India, having been inspired by the work of her late grandfather Andy Devane.

"He lived there for 19 years and worked with people like Mother Theresa and a few charities including the Hope Foundation, which is how I came to hear about them," she said.

She has now been asked to be an ambassador by the charity and help with its youth campaign, which she describes as an honour.

In the meantime though, she's determined to carry on with her modelling career and see how far it takes her. Asked about who she wants to see winning the show, she names Belfast student Stacey Haskins as her top choice.

And Hannah insists she doesn't mind if she doesn't end up setting the modelling world alight -- saying how she can "always go back and work in Hollister".

"I don't know what's going to happen now but that's the exciting thing. I'm going to try modelling here and I might go over to London and try there. I don't have a set plan yet and we'll just see what arises. I'm open to any opportunities.

"I have some great photos for my portfolio and I have learned loads from the show. I was getting advice and feedback from top industry experts and you just have to grab the opportunity with both hands.

"Obviously I was gutted to leave the house. But afterwards I thought to myself, 'Hannah look how far you've got.' It's definitely one to tell the grandkids."

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