WELCOME TO OUR MARCH GUEST BLOGGER: 90`S BIG TIME INTERNATIONAL MODEL TURNED FARMER; JORUNN HAUGEN
My name is Jorunn, and I'm very excited to be this month guest blogger here at THE 4 OF US. I'm actually Sara’s aunt and she asked me to tell my story here on the blog, which I gladly accepted. I worked as an international model from 1985-2004 and lived in many exciting cities all around the world. I basically travelled non stop for two decades. It was a great experience, and I’m am happy to have seen so many corners of the world.
A DIFFERNT TIME
But the job and this lifestyle were also challenging at times. In my time as a model, there was a lack of all the technology we have today. No Skype, no WhatsApp, no Social Media, and making international calls costed a fortune. Making the world a much larger place than what it is today. When getting home sick my only option was to write letters or make a short call from a payphone.
The photo-editing technology was also next to non-existing and for most of my career photo retouching was not yet possible. If you woke up one morning with a pimple, you were in big trouble. The makeup artist would almost burst into tears when you arrived on set and the client would accuse you of having had to much sugar in the days leading up to the job. Crazy times.
Another big difference from today's industry is that back then you had to be taller than 5'9.
Now I think, thank God for that, because we didn't have the competition from all the gorgeous girls just an inch shorter. I am 5´8 1/2, which was not so good for me. I, therefore, used to put folded paper under my heels when going to casting or seeing my bookers (a great trick if you want to appear taller.
ARRIVING IN PARIS AS A TEENAGER
When I arrived in Paris, fresh out of High School from my small Norwegian hometown, I completely ran over by beautiful Amazons. Super tall beautiful women with sharp elbows, pushing little me out of their way. But I was lucky. In 1985 there was a change in the fashion world. In the early '80s models should be blond, tease their hair into great heights, whilst wearing enormous shoulder pads and high heels. Then came Cindy Crawford. She was not an Amazon like the others. She had brown hair and was a little bit curvy. Didn't use high heels or makeup, and she started a new fashion. And just like that, I arrived at the right place at the right time. I also have dark hair, thrived in snickers and hated makeup. I suddenly fitted into the right 'model-bracket' and ended up working like crazy from the start.
A MAGAZINE COVER AND 18 PAGE SPREAD BY A LUCKY FAULT
Another thing that helped my career was that we used film back then, rather than digital imagery like today. One time I did a shoot for a big French magazine. This magazine normally had two fashion stories in each issue, with one of the stories going on the cover. I was modelling for one of these two fashion spreads.
Sadly for the other team (but very lucky for me), the crew who made the 2nd story for this months issue got their films ruined in the airport x-ray. Because of this, I got the cover as well as an 18 page spread inside the magazine that changed my career.
This photo is one of the images that ended up being used in the french magazine.
My career was made thanks to old school film rolls and Cindy Crawford. Hehe - unbelievable right?
I went on having a great career, maybe also because I understood how important it was for our clients that we were behaving like professionals. That I valued all the months of work that had gone into planning a project before arriving at the point of photographing their product. My job was just the finishing line for the brands.
My base became Los Angeles and I was married to a great American guy there. But he was so rude as to have the last name Gash... oh well. Any Brits will understand my frustration with this name. And my first name, Jorunn, didn't make things much better. Since I started working in Paris in 1985, nobody could pronounce my first name, so my name became Jo. But whenever I signed papers at hotels etc. I used my legal name. Jorunn. Try to say it out loud....
When I came to London for the first time I didn't know what my lovely new last name meant in the UK.
So when I was signing into the hotel in London, I wrote my name down in the reception. The lady behind the counter looked at me, looked down at my name, and back up at me again. She looked like she was about to burst with laughter, but tried to remain serious. She struggled to keep a straight face and said 'are you sure? Is this really your name?' I was confused and said 'yes, my name is Jorunn Gash, why should I lie?' She laughed out loud and said that Jorunn sounds a lot like urine. And she whispered in my ear what gash means in the UK. We both laughed together for ages of this, making me never forget my first visit to the UK.
I also worked on the Oscars and Emmy’s several times. The Norwegian media absolutely loved that. Norwegian small town girl on stage with the biggest stars in Hollywood. My career was in modelling and I was part of several commercials. I kept getting asked to do auditions for movies, but a movie actress was never something I aspired to be. On modelling jobs, I occasionally worked together with Cameron Diaz, who at the time was a model at the same agency as me. She thought I was crazy for turning down these auditions and not even give it a try. She on the other hand did, and look where she is today :)
MOVING BACK HOME
So almost after 20 years on the go as a model, I decided to move back home to Norway. I missed my family, the clean air and the beauty of four seasons. It is strange how quickly you can get sick of having sunshine and hot weather all year around. Now I spend pretty much every day walking in the forest with two large dogs, Luna who's mine and her brother Zorro who belongs to my sister (Sara’s mom).
A DRASTIC CAREER CHANGE
I guess I took the whole nature thing a bit far when shortly after arriving in Norway, I became a farmer, working with very large cows in a little mountain village in the middle of Norway. I worked as a cow farmer for 9 years and has now helped many cows give birth. It's quite a contrast from the glam Hollywood life. The Norwegian media loved that too and wrote about my extreme change of lifestyle in several newspapers and magazines. Sara’s boyfriend only knew me as a farmer, and one day he was in Norway for work, he saw me on the cover of a national newspaper. He called Sara and asked her why her aunt was on this cover for just being a farmer. Sara had at that point never told him what I did before that.
Now I'm safely home in the town where both Sara and I grew up. It's not that large either, almost 54000 inhabitants. And here the mountains, forest and ocean are very close by - just as I like it.
This month I am going to give you some (more) stories about my life back in the day as a model. I had lots of great experiences, but also some I could have done without, like losing almost 33 pounds in a really short time. But I’ll get back to that in one of my next posts!