The Perth-born model was the youngest-ever to grace the cover of American Vogue.
Gemma Louise Ward
03 Nov, 1987
Perth, Western Australia
The young model was reportedly seeing actor Heath Ledger after the pair were linked together in late 2007 while on holidays in their hometown of Perth. This was shortly before Heath's untimely death of an accidental drug overdose on January 22, 2008. Since then, the model has kept a relatively low profile.
Before They Were Famous
Gemma was the second child for Gary and Claire Ward. Her father is a doctor and her mother a nurse. She has younger twin brothers, Henry and Oscar, and an older sister, Sophie, who is also a model. Gemma was educated at Perth’s Presbyterian Ladies' College and Shenton College.
She was discovered in 2002, while accompanying her friends to the Aussie modelling competition Search for a Supermodel. Gemma recalls, 'I came to watch my friends. I was sitting there in the crowd when the agent from Perth came over. I didn't even want to enter. It was a bit of chance. I was so shocked when I got my first job.' Gemma later told Teen Vogue, 'I had come straight from my auntie and uncle's farm, and I was wearing this big gray barn jacket with mud all over it. When the scout came up to me, I said, "No, thank you." But my friends were like, "Hell, yes!" They forged my mum's signature [for mandatory parental consent], and pushed me in front of the cameras.'
The teenager didn't win the competition, but with her fragile, unique look, Vivien's Model Management in Australia and later IMG in New York soon came calling.
At the age of 15, Gemma was already well-known in the Australian fashion industry and at 16, she was the youngest model to be listed by American Vogue as one of the nine It girls in the modelling world. In September 2004, Gemma became the youngest fashion model to grace the cover of US Vogue, and the first model to appear on the cover of Teen Vogue. Top fashion magazines such as Harper’s BAZAAR, W and Pop all regularly featured Gemma. She’s also modelled for an enviable list of fashion houses, including Balenciaga, Chanel, Dolce & Gabbana, Ralph Lauren, Louis Vuitton, Givenchy, Prada, Valentino and Yves Saint Laurent.
Gemma has also fulfilled her childhood passion for acting by starring in three films. Her debut in 2001 was the Aussie coming-of-age drama Pink Pyjamas. More recently, Gemma starred alongside Toni Collette and Rhys Wakefield in the award-winning film The Black Balloon. The film had its world premiere at the Berlin International Film Festival in Germany in February 2008, where it won a Crystal Bear award. Later that year, she appeared with Liv Tyler in the suspense thriller The Strangers. John Mayer has also featured the young beauty in his music video for the single Daughters.
In July 2007, by earning an estimated $3.2 million in the past 12 months, Forbes placed Gemma Ward 10th in the list of the World's 15 Top-Earning Supermodels.
'I do pinch myself sometimes when I'm home in Australia, chilling with my usual buddies. It's easy to start thinking its' normal when you're surrounded by girls in the same situation, because a lot of my good friends are models.’