As a country girl from a property near Bulahdelah, Gabrielle Keaton has a good sense of direction. In her first year after graduating from the University of New England with a degree in zoology, she’s realised the possible rewards from exploring an opportunity to enter a new model contest based on an array of skills and talents beyond the catwalk.
Keaton is one of 10 finalists in the Miss Multiverse Australia contest, which is being filmed for broadcast as a reality TV show. It’s considered a blend of Australia’s Next Top Model, Survivor and The Apprentice.
After graduating from Bulahdelah Central, Keaton enrolled at the University of New England. She has plans for post-graduate study in zoology.
“I took this year off,” she says. “I went straight into study from school. I decided to take this year off and see what direction I want to go.”
She was encouraged to enter the Miss Multiverse state final, which included an IQ test and a team 10-pin bowling event with other competitors, and was surprised to reach the national finals.
The Australian winner gains entry to international finals, held over two weeks in a South American city. There is no cash prize, but for Keaton, the experience at this level is already worth it.
Keaton surmises the on-the-job learning could provide an opportunity in media.
“I actually never really thought about it until recently,” she says. “I wanted to research. I began thinking it would be cool to get into documentaries. This would be nice for a foundation. Hopefully, once I do post grad, I would enjoy getting into media.”
Keaton has had a life-long appreciation of animals, particularly reptiles, with fond memories of picking up snakes along the country roads near her home with her brother Bradley and letting them loose safely in the bush.
She’s considering research on reptile embryos and climate change. “It interests me because some reptiles are temperature dependent,” she says. “When they are developing, temperature can affect egg development, the sex or how the fetus develops.”
If she could combine research with documentary-making skills, it would expand the reach of environmental messages, she says.
“I would love to get the word out about conservation,” she says. “I would love to get this experience, to build a profile for me. So that what I say gets heard. So people can say, ‘we know her, we can relate to her’. It’s more than just a name at the bottom of a paper.”
She recently ventured into modelling for the first time, including swimwear, and also works at Carla Swimwear’s Sea Folly store.
She has always been involved in sport, playing soccer since the age of five and competing in cross country for several years.
Keaton’s sponsors are University of New England, Carla Swimwear, Vida Cruz, Planet Fitness Lambton, Lairne’s Hair & Beauty, Diamond Smile International, Austin College and Genesis Skin Health.