Samantha Harris on using her platform for change: ‘People listen when I speak’


Indigenous model Samantha Harris is deliberate with her content – here’s why.

Key Takeaways
  • Samantha Harris is an Indigenous model, who featured on the cover of Vogue at just 19
  • Harris has amassed a following of 70,000, but will only share thoughtful collaborations.
Samantha Harris wears a black suit. She is posing in front of a pink background and her hair is down.
Samantha Harris | Image source: Damian Bennett

After winning the Girlfriend cover girl model search at just 13, you’d think success would have gone to Samantha Harris’ head. It hasn’t. Harris is as down to earth and genuine as she is gorgeous, and her followers know that to be true – it’s part of the reason they’re there.

“All I ever wanted to be growing up was a model – I didn’t have a Plan B. Thankfully it worked,” she says.

After heading to London for fashion week at just 19, Harris got a life-changing phone call from her agency.  “They rang me and said I had to go back [to Australia],” she says. “I thought, ‘it better bloody be for a good reason’. It turned out it was to shoot the cover of Vogue.”

It was a fairly good reason, in retrospect. At that point, Harris had just moved to Sydney to model full-time, and had shot an editorial for Miu Miu just months earlier. “It was mind-blowing. I never thought in my wildest dreams I’d do that.”

“The older you get, you come into your own a bit. You know who you are and you know what you stand for.”

– Samantha Harris, model

Harris’ career continued to go from strength to strength, and she would eventually become an ambassador for David Jones. Being Indigenous, Harris says she was proud to represent her culture for an iconic Australian brand, and hoped other Indigenous people were proud to see her doing it.

After amassing a following of 70,000, Harris says uses her platform as an advocacy tool. She only collaborates with brands that are raising awareness for her culture or for other Indigenous artists, or for the planet.

“The Indigenous culture is such a special culture,” she says. “I’ve been modelling for 18 years and it’s never been at the forefront. Now it finally is.”

Harris is also an ambassador for World Vision Australia and WWF, and says being conscious of the kinds of companies she aligns with is important to her and to her followers. It isn’t just a picture on a billboard anymore – it’s deeper than that.

“The consumer or the young girl or the mother that’s following you, they can see that you’re representing a particular brand, so I share brands that I love and think highly of. People need to trust you.”

But it wasn’t always that easy, Harris recalls. She was shy and having her image out there – being one of the first Indigenous models to be discovered – was overwhelming. Eventually, after time in the industry, she opened up.

“The older you get, you come into your own a bit. You know who you are and you know what you stand for.

“It’s so much more than just modelling now – it’s bigger than that, and people listen when I speak.”