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In Italy, I was hired for a bathing suit shoot. The photographer made me stand in a freezing pool for hours, then screamed in my face when my skin turned an unattractive shade of blue. In Mexico, I was given drugs, then coerced into going topless for a shoot. I learned the hard way that my body was not my own.
I felt powerless, and after just a few years, I wanted out. So I found myself, at 17 in 1994, sitting on the floor in a corner of the Wilhelmina modeling agency, reading a pilot script for the first season of the television show “Xena: Warrior Princess.” I remember being excited by this incredible land of make-believe, a land where women ruled.
I auditioned for the role of Gabrielle, a farm girl who becomes a fighter. Although I did not get the part, I eventually made my way to Los Angeles, where, a few years later, I was cast in the stunt-heavy role of the Amazon warrior Amarice.
I traveled to New Zealand, where the show was filmed, and I soon realized that acting was nothing like modeling. Everyone was constantly asking me if I was O.K.; if I needed to take a break. They assured me that the stunt person could do this or that move if I was not comfortable with it.
Perhaps the main difference, then and now, is that actors have a union and models do not."
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