I first saw Australian model/actor Harry Hains on Instagram. He was wearing a black muscle tee while grungey locks fell over to one side, and his cyan eyes glowed against the dusk backdrop. He was absolutely striking; a contemporary Dorian Gray; yet it was clear that he possessed blazing trails behind his Elizabethan stare.
As a Ford model, Hains recently fronted campaigns for Skingraft and Kitsuné. Additionally, the pre-med drop out is now well on his way to a promising career as an actor here in Los Angeles; scoring lead roles in the upcoming films The Surface and Nowhereland. He also catalogues photographs of his adventures on the blog bend-light.com.
The dedication Hains has to his passions is unwavering, and his genuine appreciation for life reveals itself wholly; from admiring the trees of Bel-Air to his giddiness over eating hot dogs at a little league park. He lives in the moment with a child-like enthusiasm.
I had been wanting to do a photo shoot in tribute to River Phoenix for some time now, but until I saw Hains, I never came across a male subject who I felt could pull off both a heightened beauty as well as the emotional depth and tainted-youth-rebellion that Phoenix carried. I wanted to resurrect the spirit Phoenix emitted from a fashionable standpoint, and I knew Hains was the one to carry the torch.
LF: What sort of characters are you most interested in playing/what stories do you want to tell?
HH: I’m very much interested in the stories I can connect with most and roles I can express the most genuinely as when you are so emotionally invested in material you believe in, it becomes real: no acting, no characters, just you. I want to be in roles that changes people and show the dark realistic nature to the world. I’m very much excited to explore this in my next feature, NOWHERELAND, about underage sex trafficking in the US, drug addiction, physical abuse, homelessness: not to spoil anything but there is no happy ending here. Of course I also want to use that side a little darker to me as some villain in a horror film or a sci-fi, and eventually explore all sides to myself in a variety of roles.
LF: I know during the filming of The Surface you had some pretty intense sexual scenes- including one with yourself! Was that intimidating to explore and share on camera?
HH: Oh dear, I guess it didn’t occur to me that accepting a lead role in a feature would mean YOU are the one in all those sex scenes! There was a few sex scenes including a very “passionate” up close and personal one plus my own solo scene (under the covers luckily). I try to make everything to me as real as possible, but in a sex scene, well you aren’t actually having sex, it’s all simulated on the command, ACTION and we gotta jump into it. It’s more awkward right before then doing it, just talking to each other casually and then suddenly it’s go and there’s multiple takes and have to make sounds and stuff, and then having to fake an orgasm when there is a closeup on your face- Let’s just say I’ll be passing on watching those parts.
LF: What has been your favorite memory during the shooting of The Surface?
HH: The whole process! This was my first lead role in a feature, and it allowed me to make great progress with my craft, working every day for a few weeks, teaching me the discipline required, with the fantastic team and director, Michael Saul who gave me a new perspective on every line, and the two supporting-leads were a blast to work with, giving me a lot to play with on set. This further confirmed this is what I want to be doing and where I should be, preparing me for all the next roles to come. Everything is a step towards the next big thing, and this was the perfect opportunity for me I’m so grateful I could be apart of so soon into arriving in L.A.
LF: How has growing up in Australia informed your personality?
HH: It’s hard to say what aspects of our environment are the ones that cause our various personality traits. My parents and brother, the people I’ve met throughout my childhood and adolescence, those I’ve befriended and shared experiences with and the school I went to and all the various encounters accumulated interacting with my natural predisposition and development. The majority of these experiences were in hometown of Melbourne, Australia, so was the formation of my personality. I have lived overseas for 75% of the past two years which has enabled me to gain a new perspective on everything. While everywhere is different, people can have these similar experiences throughout their life since at the core of it, people want the same thing, we have mutual desires and our emotions are not quite as individual as we would like to think.
LF: Has your family been supportive of your career switch from becoming a medical professional to acting and modeling?
HH: They have been very supportive and I’ve been so fortunate to have a family who may not have initially believed in me, as I didn’t completely either, but once I started to work hard and realize my own ambitions in establishing my creative future, they have become understanding and proud of what I’ve been able to accomplish, and though it took a long time to get to where I am, particularly through the emotional development as I am still so young and did at one point feel lost, I know that I’m finally on the right track – it’s only just the beginning. There’s still that part of me that wants to become a doctor and it may still happen, though that is one day in the future, because this burning desire to create surpasses all.
LF: I know you’re super interested in fashion design- Who are some of your favorite current labels?
HH: My favorite labels are Comme Des Garçons and Issey Miyake among other Japanese designers that have such interesting shapes. I have an unusual and eclectic style that cannot be so easily defined. I collect clothes from around the world – constantly new ideas that change, expressing the internalization of self through image. I love layering and matching patterns – I do not believe in the gender classifications of clothing, so consider my style unisex: a dress or skirt can be equally feminine and masculine or why not neither? I play around with conventions and represent the conflicting identity while boasting a total confidence and freedom.
LF: You have your hands in a lot of areas and are kind of a renaissance man. What words of wisdom do you have for people who don’t want to be labeled as only one thing?
HH: Do everything you possibly can, if you have an ambition, follow it, you have passions, follow it – and don’t listen to anyone else unless they are going to help you achieve your goals. Set them, set many goals and never settle for anything less than your desires. If you work hard enough, and are ambitious enough, you will get what you want, there is no giving up in the face of true passion.
LF: Whats the mood you try to capture for your blog bend-light?
HH: bend-light.com is a visual diary that captures the spontaneous moment-to-moment on film. Aside from the occasional modeling editorials, all photos are taken with a disposable camera, they are instant and capture things the memory can’t always capture, so it allows a gateway into the past, showing a somewhat disorted array of images that support the wildness and incongruent flow of the night (or less-so morning). This is a blog that follows the journey of my life, it tells the story of all those I’ve met and the adventures we’ve had together. I want my life to be a spectacle, this is artwork demonstrated through an online documented performance.
LF: Do you ever feel like your spiritual, emotional and intellect self is underestimated, misjudged or stifled because of your superficial features, or that people treat you differently and don’t take you as seriously?
HH: Absolutely, there is so much more to me than the “model” I’ve been classified as in the past – it’s as if some people expect less of you because you are pretty and think you aren’t capable of anything else. You don’t need to prove yourself to anyone when they are most likely speaking out of jealousy or merely misunderstanding. Being more comfortable and knowing myself, I’ve stopped caring if I’m being judged or not since my accomplishments speak for themselves. Obviously not everyone is so narrow-minded, but when you are modeling and not doing much else you can get this attitude. However, doing other things like moving into film and booking roles, people aren’t as presumptuous.
LF: How do you pump yourself up before and during a photo shoot? Do you have specific songs you listen to or mantras you tell yourself?
HH: I’ve done so many photoshoots at this point that I really don’t need to prepare for them as I know exactly what I’m doing. When there is music on set, it effects the way I’m posing and helps me to tap into it – rapid fire posing aka fierceness.
LF: Being in front of the camera all the time forces you to be really present and put yourself out there. How has that effected your self esteem?
HH: Modeling has really had a great impact on my life, making me such a confident person and part of the reason I’ve come to love myself over time. There is so much rejection in this industry and blunt honesty that we have to deal with and accept, understand without making it personal – despite it actually being personal – as you’ll be talked about like you aren’t there or talked about like you’re an object. “You’re too short” is the sentence I’ve heard most, or too feminine, something wrong with my hair, or becoming somewhat body dysmorphic from working with your body too long and seeing constant images of yourself. All of this builds character, and make you a stronger person and I’m so appreciative that I can’t get offended anymore and wouldn’t be able to let anything negative people say affect me – thankfully now a rare occurrence with the amount of positivity and praise I receive.
LF: The fashion and entertainment industries can be cut throat and vicious and can kind of blemish creativity with all the politics. Have you experienced a rude awakening or do you find that kind of jungle mostly positive?
HH: People don’t realize the fashion industry is a tough business, you need to be resilient, and keep going no matter what people say, and it’s competitive like all other creative pursuits, so people are going to be direct as there isn’t time to waste (in their mind). While there is a lot to be said about this, it really does develop thicker skin which has an strong impact on all aspects of life if you carry it across.
All photos by Jessie Askinazi