Not many can say they were hand-picked by Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson to star in his latest film, recommended by the same actor to sign up to one of the biggest talent agencies in the world, WME, boast of 1.6 million Instagram followers, and feature regularly as a Guess girl – unless you are Brisbane’s Ellie Gonsalves???.
The 26-year-old was dubbed a “one to watch” when she shot to fame wearing a white bikini in wine brand Yellow Tail’s Super Bowl advert last year. Now she is gearing up for her acting debut in comedy drama Fighting with My Family (due out this year), alongside her “great mate and mentor” Johnson as well as a stellar line-up including Lena Headey, Vince Vaughn and directed by Stephen Merchant.
But it hasn’t always been plain sailing for Gonsalves. Unfortunately, like many of the women gone before her in the entertainment industry, she is also a member of the “#MeToo” movement.
“I have not been sexually assaulted, but through my years I have definitely been harassed,” she told Fairfax Media this week in Sydney, where she helped launch Rpple – an initiative designed to link social media influencers with brands.
“Unfortunately it is that job where you are not protected enough as talent and there are people in positions who can ruin your career like [the click of a finger]. But fortunately I have been able to make money for myself, so I don’t have to rely on those who might say, ‘here is $50,000, but you have to do this’. There are those they take advantage of, like those who might be behind on their rent and they are being told that their careers might be over if they don’t do something.
“I know what I am worth and I will never let anyone break me down for a role, for a job, for money, for anything … You can tell people ‘no’.”
Gonsalves didn’t report the incidents, but decided to never work with the offenders again.
She believes the future looks bright for women in this post-Weinstein era.
“You can definitely notice that change. It is really amazing that these women have stood up and said something because it’s changing how we are protected in the workplace for the future. It’s a really fantastic movement and I support it 100 per cent,” she said.
Overcoming adversity is something Gonsalves has grown accustomed to. During the early stages of her career she was told she would never make it as a model because of her body shape, but she persisted.
“I have been told ‘no’ all of my life, especially back in the day when I was 17 and big boobs were not in. It was just all about being skinny, washboard, super tall and I am just not that,” she said.
“I have hips and I have a tiny little waist and I have these big boobs, but thanks to Beyonce, JLo and Kim [Kardashian West], curvaceous bodies are what people just strive for these days. I hated my boobs back then but now I am really thankful. This look got me those Guess campaigns,” she laughed.
For her latest collaboration, Gonsalves appeared at the Portsea Polo in Melbourne on Saturday to help launch Rpple, an initiative founded by Bondi Sands’ Blair James that allows social media stars to collaborate with brands.
“Rpple is great for people like me, who want to take control of their own brand and want to work with international companies and get paid. It connects ambassadors with brands all over the world,” she said.
At first glance, Gonsalves’ Instagram looks like just another bikini account, but delve a little deeper you will find the good and the bad, unlike many other influencers.
“That was some advice The Rock gave me. He told me to always be myself and not be afraid to show the real me to the world, even the not so great parts,” she said.
“My dad committed suicide two years ago. On R U OK Day last year I decided to speak about it on my Instastory telling people how I got through it and what happens. It reached so many people. I feel like if you can impact people’s lives like that, you should.” A post shared by E L L I E (@ellie_gonsalves) on Dec 5, 2017 at 3:37pm PSTA post shared by E L L I E (@ellie_gonsalves) on Dec 6, 2017 at 9:24pm PST