Being a dancer, actress and model may seem like the dream for many young people; performing in front of thousands and inspiring those who want to break into limelight and get their names out there. But with stardom comes the obvious pressures to conform to a certain look and size.
I speak to Hannah Levitt-Collins, a dancer, actress and model who has danced alongside the likes Kylie Minogue, was the stunt double for Rey in the new Star Wars movie, and modelled for D&G, about how she deals with her own body image when immersed in the three body-concious industries.
You’re a model, dancer and an actress. Which one came first?
“I trained as a dancer first when i was 16 at Stella Mann performing arts and began my career at 19. Modelling actually kind of just fell into my life as did acting. Acting was such a big part of my dance & modelling jobs so its something i learnt along the way on my jobs.”
Dancing for the likes of Kylie Minogue, Olly Murs and The Kooks must be so much fun and exciting. What style of dance is your favourite?
“My favourite is super feminine & strong commercial dance. I love anything super creative & visually striking. I love working with artists that view their dancers as artists too.”
How do you prepare yourself the day before a big performance?
“I am usually in rehearsals or doing a dress run of the show before the performance day so I try and be focused & stop myself from becoming nervous. I make sure I eat & sleep enough for sure so my body has the energy it needs for the performance.”
Being a dancer, you must take care of your body. How do you condition your body?
“I do. I am very into my fitness and train at the gym as much as I can with my work schedule. I love yoga & running so they’re my two main things I have to have In my lifestyle. With the pressure of being in shape due to my job it’s very important i feel good in my body. I also need to be strong & fit physically to be sure I do not get injured. A huge key item is my diet. Diet is so important in order to stay strong and fit.”
You were the double preforming as Rey in the new Star Wars movie, The Force Awakens. What did your double role entail?
“I was the picture & physical double for Rey. It entailed learning new skills & a lot of copying Daisy’s movement & imitating them to the best I could. A lot of running as her characters always on the go which is why it was so key I had fitness on my side. It was a the first film i worked on so it was a huge learning curve for me.”
Did knowing that you would be appearing in a big, blockbuster movie change the way you view your body?
“I didn’t feel pressure about the media or public viewing of myself at all. I just was very conscious of keeping my body looking as close to what Daisy’s looks like as that was my job and I wanted to be the best double I could be.”
How did you have to prepare to be Daisy Ridley’s double?
“I was training hard for my fitness as her other stunt double Chloe Bruce is an outstanding female who is so incredibly fit! Also daisy was training so hard for the movie so i felt i needed to keep up!”
Have you ever felt under pressure to be a certain size in the fashion and film industry?
“In the fashion industry yes. I am a shorter model & have felt I have to be a certain size in the modelling industry as well as the dance industry as those two industries collide a lot. The smallest thing in your body image can make or break a job for you!”
Modelling for Adidas, Selfridges, Harrods and D&G must take a lot of confidence to pull off. Have you always been confident within yourself?
“I haven’t always been confident but yes i am now. It has taken years of work to really love myself for what i am in order to become confident. I have had many low moments where I haven’t booked a job & I’ve thought straight away its because of the way I look. The older I’ve got the more I’ve realised I have to love myself & if people don’t want to book me because I’m an inch to small or to wide then it’s simply have to except I’m not right for that job.”
In your opinion, what does the high fashion industry contribute to girls’ body image these days?
“I feel in the fashion industry there’s still such a huge pressure for models to be size 0 and fit the stereotypical type of ‘model’. However I feel the plus size and real women look is becoming more popular which is amazing! People are realising & recognising fitness models are breaking through & how much better it is to want to be fit and love our bodies. There’s a huge impact from the social media industry which is effecting the dance and modelling industry as now a days your value is on how many followers you have rather than your talent. I feel fitness for females is a huge trend at the moment and I really hope it remains that way! We should all embrace our bodies and be as healthy and fit as possible.”
Have you got any tips for aspiring girls who want to be in front of the lens?
“Always be you! My tip is always love yourself & know your self worth. If you want to be a model or dancer go for it and follow your dreams! Just remember you are beautiful no matter what anyone says!”