The stunning MAXIM Australian Swimwear Model of the Year makes her cover girl debut…
Hey, Isabelle, congrats on your MAXIM cover. How does it feel?
It feels super surreal. It didn’t actually sink in properly for a few weeks that I’d be getting my very own cover and feature in such a prestigious magazine. My cheeks were still so sore a week after from smiling so much – it’s so overwhelming. I can’t wait to show off all of my hard work to the world and share this moment with my family and close friends.
Tell us about this shoot.
This was a long one – 15 hours to be exact – and I was just getting over the flu! The overall shoot was an amazing experience, from the makeup/hair, location, photographer and the impressive car which has now turned into my dream car. I was basically born into the car scene – I’m a bit of a revhead – if it’s fast and luxurious you have my attention. My other favourite part was wearing all the different cheeky swimwear.
Well, you look gorgeous. When do you feel sexy?
Thank you! I feel my sexiest when I’m lounging around wearing my favourite red lingerie.
What’s your best asset?
I think my face is my best asset. I was always told from a young age I have a really pretty face and I’d break some hearts when I got older.
Tell us a bit about yourself and your life story so far.
Well, I have quite a story behind me. I was born in Canberra and moved away with family when I was 12 to a remote island in the Arafura Sea called Elcho Island. I spent a couple of years living there where I learnt a lot about my culture. Living on the island really opened my eyes to knowing who I wanted to be and with what morals I wanted to live by. I’ll tell you a quick story – one day on the island my friend and I went for a walk on the beach. I had seen something small moving around in the distance and said to my friend, “Let’s check it out.” So, we walked up to this object and it actually happened to be a baby crocodile. My first instinct wasn’t to wonder where mummy crocodile is, but to pick it up.
Basically, I tried picking it up, but it nearly had my pinky for lunch. I took my shirt off, obviously wearing bikinis underneath, placed my shirt over the baby croc so it couldn’t see where I was coming from and picked it up and took it to school the next day for show and tell. I also spent a lot of time fishing, camping and riding motorbikes on the island. After living on the island, I moved to Broome in WA, finished Year 12 playing sports and living it up in the small tropical town. Once I was 19, I moved to Cairns for a year and now I’m located in the beautiful Gold Coast.
Wow, the Croc Whisperer! You’re the current MAXIM Australian Swimwear Model of the Year (ASMY). What went through your head when you won the title?
I was thinking, “Holy shit, I just won! All of the hard work has finally paid off!” It was such a crazy week. On the Thursday which, was the swimwear judging, I actually tore a ligament in my ankle right after it finished. I went to the doctor that night, got it bandaged up, took some painkillers and rested it. On the final night I was actually walking onstage with a very sore ankle, but I soldiered through and did my best – apparently my best was enough!
Why do you think the judges chose you?
Maybe because of the way I walk with confidence? I’m very natural in my appearance and my personality and I also always try to do something different onstage. For example my signature “strip it off” move where the surprise is underneath because we all love to know what’s underneath the hood right? I’m also very happy and bubbly around everyone and really just happy in general.
Describe your overall experience competing in the MAXIM ASMY.
I won’t lie, it was very stressful but it was totally worth it. I always see girls I know, who I competed with, and they have become lifetime friends. Everything from the staff to the accommodation to the venue – it was all perfect.
What advice would you give the contestants taking part in the MAXIM ASMY later this year?
My best advice would be to go into it, and any competition you ever compete in, and don’t expect to place. Go in with the confidence like you’ve already won but with the attitude that you’re no better than any of the other contestants.
What’s been happening since you took out the illustrious title?
I have been pushing out the photo shoots, working with brands and just enjoying the title of being the MAXIM Australian Swimwear Model of the Year.
What do you like to do for fun?
I’m a very mixed girl but in my free time I like tanning on the beach, fishing, taking my beautiful German Shepherd puppy out for walks, applying make-up, gaming – it’s usually Fortnite – and hanging out with my bestie.
What have you learned about men over the years?
Actually, it’s surprising how many men can be romantic and thoughtful – they aren’t as confusing as we assume they are.
What does a man have to do to win you over?
Treat me like a queen, listen to me – even if you don’t think it’s important, make me feel safe, make me laugh so hard that you bring out my ugly laugh and never try to tell me I can’t wear that short skirt!
Describe your perfect date?
I find it really romantic if a man organises a dinner and movie date – even if it’s a drive-in theatre sitting in the back of the car with takeaway. Finish it off with Nutella covered strawberries and maybe we could use the Nutella in another way later on in the night.
What’s the best piece of
advice anyone has ever given you?
Always be true to who you are and never let anyone change that. Have morals and have the integrity to live by them.
What’s next for you?
I want to do some time over in America and see what they have to offer. Hopefully grow my business as a model and swimwear designer – I’m looking to start my own business in the next couple of years – it’s something I’ve wanted to pursue from a young age. Obviously, I want to move onto bigger and better things with modelling and I can’t wait to do so!
NAME: Isabelle Lee
BORN: September 15, 1998
HOMETOWN: Canberra ACT
LIVES: Gold Coast Qld
FIVE-WORD SELF-DESCRIPTION: “Adventurous, motivated, creative, admirable and most definitely affectionate!”
JOB: “Sales consultant.”
HOBBIES: “Make-up, TikToks, gaming, fishing and jet skiing.”
PHOBIA: “This is a weird one but I have a phobia called trypophobia which is the sight of irregular patterns or a cluster of small holes. It definitely freaks me out!”
GO-TO DRINK: “Vodka, lemon, lime and bitters!”
HANGOVER CURE: “A dirty Maccas feed!”
BEDTIME ATTIRE: “Most of the time just underwear, but if it’s winter a full-on onesie.”
LIFE MOTTO: “Hakuna matata, which means no worries for the rest of your days”.
PHOTOGRAPHED BY RICHARD MAMANDO
INTERVIEW BY SANTI PINTADO
STYLING SELINA MACDONALD
HAIR & MAKE-UP BEAUTY QUEEN BY ELLIE WRIGHT
SPECIAL THANKS TO THE PROCOMP AUS GLAM SQUAD
For the full article grab the May 2020 issue of MAXIM Australia from newsagents and convenience locations. Subscribe here.