Rebecca Hardy’s life changed exactly two years ago, when the aspiring model won cycle two of Canada’s Next Top Model.

“I’ve had the opportunity to model in Milan, England, New York and all over Canada,” said Hardy, who worked at JM Schneiders before the win, preparing meats to be processed. “I’ve met some huge celebrities and had the opportunity to walk many red carpets. I’ve been part of some huge show productions and music videos.”

She will walk in several shows during Toronto Fashion Week, which takes place Oct. 19-24.
Hardy — who stands five-foot-11 and is often recognized for her red hair and blunt bangs — was born in Burnaby, B.C., and moved to Mannheim, Ont., in the first grade. She first became interested in modelling during her senior year of high school, when a friend asked Hardy to model some clothing she designed for a school fashion show.

“I was really nervous because I didn’t feel comfortable at all in front of an audience,” she said. “I was practically shaking, but when I got on stage, I completely changed. I loved it. This opened my eyes to modelling and made me want to pursue it more.”

She signed with Ontario-based Cameo Models at 19 and applied to Canada’s Next Top Model a few years later. For winning the competition, Hardy received a $100,000 contract with Procter & Gamble, a modelling contract with Toronto-based Sutherland Models and an editorial spread in Fashion magazine.

Hardy says while the competition was often much more stressful than depicted on television — participants regularly worked long days on little sleep — she wouldn’t trade the experience for anything.

“The show, and modelling, has taught me a lot about myself and although times were difficult, I wouldn’t have it any other way,” she said. “You learn how much you can take, and how to push yourself to the next level.”

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