Tongan-born, New Zealand-raised model Teresa Moore is a bona fide success story with campaigns for global brands Ralph Lauren, Diesel, L’Oreal, Neutrogena and more under her belt. Now, the brunette beauty is following in fellow Kiwi model Rachel Hunter’s footsteps with a potential spot in the coveted Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition for 2016!
Teresa was born in the Tongan capital Nuku’alofa and moved to Auckland, New Zealand with her family at the age of 10. After doing a few small jobs here in New Zealand, Teresa made the big move to the US where her career has gone from strength to strength!
We chat to the New York-based model and aspiring actress about her favourite Kiwi spots, career highlights and what booking Sports Illustrated would mean for her.
Q: How did you get started in modelling?
Teresa: I was scouted on the street shopping in Auckland by 62 Model Agency and did small jobs while in high school in New Zealand. Then a model scout from the USA came and wanted me to come for a two-month season in my school holidays and I did so well in the US and European markets (which I am so grateful for!), the rest is history!
Q. How does New York life compare to living in New Zealand , and what do you miss most about Aotearoa?
Teresa: New York is big, busy and loud, but it's the epicenter of fashion and culture. I really miss the beautiful nature and quiet of New Zealand, the friendly and cool attitude Kiwis have and my mama in Whangaparaoa. Oh, and feijoas ... why don't they have them anywhere else! So good!
Q: What are your favourite NZ spots?
Teresa: I love Cable Bay and Mudbrick at Waiheke Island and always make a trip there when I return home. I love Shakespeare National Park by my mum's house, which has nice beaches and is great for a summer picnic.
The majesty of flying into Queenstown is pretty incomparable, as well as the beauty of the lakes.
There's also this secret spot just outside of Rotorua where the hot spring mixes hot and cold water and you can bathe in the bush and pick your temperature depending where you sit. That's pretty awesome.
Q: You’ve worked for some big name brands in the past - what’s your favourite campaign that you’ve worked on?
Teresa: I think shooting the cover and editorial for W magazine in New York was a fashion highlight and the clothes were [from] gorgeous designers like Valentino and Oscar de la Renta.
One of the most fun shoots was for the Diesel campaign shot in Buenos Aires with 150 extras and 10 members of the Argentinian Ballet, choreographed by Michael Rooney (Mickey's son).
Q: Do you have any favourite Kiwi models?
Teresa: Rachel Hunter is a legend and is the only Kiwi model to have been in Sports Illustrated. We met at a birthday party of a friend at a club in NYC a few years ago and now she's just given me a shout out on Instagram supporting me for Sports Illustrated. Thats pretty exciting for me!
Q: How did your SI Swimsuit casting come about, and what would it mean to you to make the Swimsuit Edition next year?
Teresa: My agent sent me. I met the editors, they invited me back to do the video. Making the final casting call was a total and amazing surprise!
[Making the Swimsuit Edition] would be an amazing opportunity to get large exposure to move to the next level of modelling and to have a platform to talk about charitable causes I believe in, like the environment and mindfulness meditation.
Elle Macpherson, who was on the cover five times, started her own lingerie line and brought jobs to New Zealand because her line was produced there by Bendon. It's great to create a brand and create jobs and more awareness about New Zealand.
MJ, the editor of Sports Illustrated, said she's always wanted to shoot in New Zealand and was asking me about locations, which would be awesome to show off New Zealand's great beaches and vistas.
Also, many Sport Illustrated models have gone into acting (Kate Upton, Brooklyn Decker, Molly Sims) and with three TV show appearances under my belt and two years of method acting, I'd be excited what would come with that too.
Q: Have you picked up any beauty tips and tricks from working in the industry?
Teresa: Pilates is great for toning and running for cardio and exploring. Drink lots of water and green juice (made from spinach, kale, parsley and cucumber). Use a good serum for your skincare and wear sunscreen everyday!
Q: You were born in Tonga before moving to NZ – how often are you able to get back and which must-see spots would you recommend to visitors?
Teresa: I was back there four years ago and I recommend it as an amazing experience seeing a real Polynesian island with traditional culture, amazing beaches and awesome food. Tonga is really special because it hasn't succumbed to mass tourism and is really authentic.
Make sure to see where a local Pola (feast) is and enjoy the local pig on a spit, Ota Ika (raw fish in coconut milk), taro leaves, kumala and taro.
Fafa Island Resort was owned by my childhood friends and is a gorgeous little break outside of Nuku'alofa with traditional-style fales right on your own private beach.
The Blue Banana Beach House has cool bungalows right on the best surf beach. Vava'u has amazing upscale resorts and pristine beaches, and in Nuku'alofa, go to Friends cafe and catch up with all the locals.