Jude Nabney: Belfast model trying to crack America
Following mega successful ad campaigns here, how this beautiful Belfast model and her oh so sexy husband are set to take America by storm after being signed by two top New York agencies
With conduct perhaps unbecoming a svelte model, stunningly beautiful Jude Nabney polishes off a bar of chocolate before she starts to talk about how she and her equally camera-friendly model husband Rob Rea are about to sink their teeth into the Big Apple on what they hope will be their very own fairytale of New York.
The Belfast couple, who are among Europe's most sought-after models, are this week heading off to NYC in an attempt to establish themselves in the tough-to-crack American modelling market where the signs are already looking as good as they do after they signed up with two of the top agencies in the States.
Between them, Rob and Jude have clocked up thousands of miles criss-crossing the world to work on top TV advertising assignments for global brand leaders and on photo-shoots for magazines and catalogues for major fashion houses.
Jude (26) is currently appearing in a Diet Coke ad which has become a cult hit after having been seen by millions of people on every part of the planet. The blue-eyed blonde east Belfast girl is one of five women filmed swooning over a hunky gardener cutting grass in a park in Johannesburg as he peels off his tee-shirt to reveal his impressive six pack.
Jude is also the star of a new Colgate toothpaste advertisement which aired on TV screens nationally just a couple of days ago and she has figured heavily in a television campaign by the ISME fashion chain.
The former Wellington College pupil is also the slender face of in-store and online promotions for the trendy Fat Face shops.
Hubby Rob has been in the forefront of Marks & Spencer and Crew Clothing promotional campaigns as well one for the Ted Baker clothes firm which featured prominently on a website for the huge Bloomingdales store in New York.
Jude and Rob were dubbed the model couple last year after they walked down the aisle instead of a catwalk near Downpatrick but they had to postpone their exotic honeymoon on a beautiful Indian Ocean island after landing a lucrative modelling job together.
So instead of jetting off to Bali, the glamorous twosome, who met at a fashion competition in Northern Ireland in 2008, went to Rome to start work on one of their biggest ever modelling assignments for the upmarket Napapijri clothing company.
The firm dispatched Jude and Rob — a one-time finalist in a Northern Ireland's sexiest man competition — as ‘brand ambassadors' around Europe to model their clothes in a raft of different cities including Paris, Stockholm and Berlin.
Rob and Jude, who lived and worked for six months in Cape Town before their wedding, later based themselves in London. But their globetrotting has meant they've had to spend much of their first year of married life apart.
“We've been working in different places a lot. We had three months there when we literally went weeks without seeing each other. Then we would have one night together before travelling on somewhere else. But it makes our time together much more precious,” says Jude who resorted to helping herself to a pile of Marks & Spencer leaflets featuring her husband during one of their enforced spells of temporary separation.
Their busy schedules have also disrupted plans for them to attend the weddings of close friends together and family holidays have also had to be curtailed.
Birthdays have been celebrated away from each other and there's a chance that they might not be able to spend their first wedding anniversary next month in the same country, or even on the same continent.
“You can't plan anything in advance. Which means there are a lot of sacrifices but hopefully it all pays off. Besides, you have to take the work when it's there,” says Jude, the youngest of a family of four children.
In New York, the couple who are both represented by the prestigious Premier model management firm in England, will live in an apartment just off Wall Street in Manhattan as they dip their respective toes into the US modelling world. Armed with their books of photographs, Rob and Jude went to NYC for a week in March to meet American agents face to face after their British reps lined up interviews for them after supplying them with portfolios of their work.
Jude has been snapped up by the renowned Wilhelmina International company and Rob by the go-ahead New York Models agency.
“To be in it to win in New York you have to be with one of the big five agencies and we are both lucky to have got well-respected representatives,” says Jude. “All the agencies have a lot of people who walk in off the street every day wanting to be a model. So for them to take notice of us is fantastic.”
Even before he arrived in NYC, Rob already had a job in the pipeline. But nothing is guaranteed. “We will still have to go out and do our castings and get lucky,” says Jude, who is relieved that that the couple have been fortunate enough to have had the tricky problem of visas sorted out for them in New York.
Less than a fortnight after getting her entry stamp on her passport, however, Jude will be crossing the Atlantic in the opposite direction, flying to Morocco for a modelling assignment.
“That's the life of a model,” she says. “While we will be based in America, there are still options for work in Europe too. I will be in Marrakesh in early September and I have possibilities of more jobs in the British Isles as well and I could even be in Mauritius before the end of the year.
“But that's the beauty of the business. While you may be centred in one place like New York, you can find yourself going anywhere in the world for jobs. It's hard work but I love it.”
Rob, a former business analyst with the Ulster Bank, and Jude insist they haven't got stars — or stripes — in their eyes. Just yet.
Jude says: “I don't know how long we will be in New York. We might love the city or we might hate it. We just like travelling around and experiencing life in lots of places. When we are in New York, we are going to live like New Yorkers. No two cities are the same and things were very different when we were in London and also before that in South Africa.
“Looking to the long-future who knows? We can see ourselves living anywhere, really. That's the exciting thing about our lives. We have no idea where we will be this time next year.”
One thing they do know, however, is that they won't be hearing the patter of tiny feet anytime soon. Jude says: “I definitely want a family but just not right now. Maybe in five or six years but we’re so busy at the moment we can't even have a dog. So we can hardly have a baby.
“We move around so much and you can't really take a baby in your
pocket. For the next few years we are certainly not planning to settle in any one city. We have all the time in the world hopefully.”
The jet-setting lifestyle however isn't all that it's cracked up to be according to Rob and Jude. Gone are the champagne, the Concords and the first-class luxuries and Jude says: “That's another part of the package. You have to travel.”
In February 2011 Jude almost encountered an air disaster nearer home. She was booked on the ill-fated Manx2 commuter plane from Belfast which crashed in thick fog at Cork airport, where six people were killed.
But not long before she was due to fly she decided to drive south instead after agreeing to give a lift to other models who were travelling from Dublin. The shock didn't put Jude off flying. But ironically Jude has taken cold feet about air travel in more recent times.
“All of a sudden I developed a fear of flying. I think it might have been because of a bad landing. However, I am trying to think mind over matter to get on top of it. But at least Rob is with me on the trip to New York whereas I normally have to go on my own.”
Before leaving for the States, Jude had a farewell family dinner and she says the one part of the job in a million which she doesn't enjoy is the time away from her loved ones back home.
But the couple's relatives are all behind their bid for the big-time and the big bucks.
“It's a giant step for them,” says Jude's father Norman. “But they've already done well to make their names in Ireland, then the UK, then Europe and then South Africa.”
Jude says: “We know we are facing a major challenge. Some of my friends have gone to New York and it's been difficult but then no market around the world is easy. We are determined to give it our best shot but we could end up sitting on our backsides eating cronuts for months.”
Cronuts, for the uninitiated, are a mix between a croissant and a donut.
“It was invented by a French patisserie chef in New York in May but it has already become a sensation. You have to queue for hours in New York to get one. But they are something that I really want to try,” says Jude.
She clearly knows about these things. But while she may have a sweet tooth, it certainly doesn't show on her as Jude sips a cup of green tea before pondering the possibility of another Kit Kat.Temp Head - fashion world s super earners
Fashion world's super earners
Brazilian bombshell and mother-of-two Gisele Bundchen (33) earned $42m in the last year according to Forbes' list of the world's highest-paid models. Married to New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, she was first noticed by a model scout at the tender age of 14 while on a school tour.
Australian model Miranda Kerr (30) comes in second place on Forbes' highest paid list, earning $7.2m in the last year. Kerr was the first Australian to join the Victoria's Secret campaign. She is married to actor Orlando Bloom and the couple have a two-year-old son, Flynn.
Adriana Lima (32) is widely known as the most familiar face of Victoria's Secret, raking in $6m in the same year. This Brazilian beauty and her Serbian sports star husband, Marko Jaric, have two daughters, Valentina and Sienna. She won second place at the Ford Supermodel of the World contest at the age of 16.
Forbes estimates that British supermodel Kate Moss (below) earned $5.7m in the last 12 months. The 39-year-old Londoner was first discovered when she was 14 years old at JFK airport in New York. Moss who has a daughter, Lila Grace, has been the face of Rimmel London, Topshop, Chanel Dior and many, many more.
Liu Wen (25) is widely regarded as the world's first Asian supermodel. She took the fashion world by storm when she became the first Chinese model to join Victoria's Secret. In the last year she reportedly earned $4.3m and is ranked at number five on Forbes' list.