Name: Ollie Henderson
Occupation: Model and big boss at House of Riot.
Hometown: Creswick Victoria
Currently residing: Sydney!
“Drive fast on empty streets with nothing in mind except falling in love and not getting arrested.” Hunter S. Thompson
Victorian model and political activist, Ollie Henderson started a riot (pun intended) at Mercedes-Benz Fashion week 2014. Upset with the current affairs of Australian politics, Ollie made a statement by distributing 100 t-shirts amongst friends – ‘Cull Hate Not Sharks’, ‘Sexisim Sucks’, ‘Save the Humans’, ‘House Of Riot’. This is when HOUSE OF RIOT became the international, recognised voice it is today. “ It’s been a pretty wild ride” says Ollie and she may have lost a few clients due to her personal, public onions but she also gained in other ways becoming more of a personality rather than just a face. French Elle and US Harpers were fast to tell her story and she is collaborating with other politically minded organisations and people to get the word out there!
The House Of Riot is a multidisciplinary activist movement, which aims to empower the younger generation by giving them a voice through which they can express their opinions on current social justice issues, whether they be local or global. “ We are the future, we can be the change united and strong. stand up for what you believe in. Use your voice, START THE RIOT!
When I was a child I wanted to be… Everything! It changed every week, although none of my childhood dreams included any of the work I’m doing now.
The one thing I do everyday… Nothing hopefully, I hate routine
The studies I took to get where I am… Zilch. I dropped out of high-school and moved to Japan when I was 17. In the past I felt really embarrassed by my lack of formal education but this embarrassment is what pushed me to self educate. I hated the idea of being seen as a dumb model.
I’m inspired by… Everything that intimidates me.
My influences are… I’m heavily influenced by 70s punk culture (obviously)
People I admire… I admire many of the people I have had the opportunity to work with. Two women who are blowing my ming right now are Fanny Calendar and Tamsin Omond. They started The Future, the climate change activist group I work closely with. Fanny and Tamsin take on their lives and political action from very different angles but what I see in them both in bravery and vision.
I’m currently listening too… Motley Crue (*blush* half embarrassed half really want to own it)
The tools I can’t live without are… My first thought goes to my smartphone, damn it! Aside from the obvious modern living tools, the best tool we have in life is internal strength. (God I’m cheesy)
The obstacles that have come my way… The biggest one I have found is people thinking House of Riot lacks integrity and intelligence because it’s based in Fashion, being a model probably doesn’t help this either. This challenge has really been a blessing; it has really made me push to make sure House of Riot maintains both of these qualities and is now one of out top priorities.
If I could change anything… Nothing (boring answer but true)
The internet has influenced my career… My work with House of Riot is hugely based in the internet. It has been the blessing of any modern start up. Creating online zines, connecting with people on Twitter, receiving customer feed back on Instagram, building online forums for political discussion. I <3 internet. (insert cute emoji here)
My favourite place in the world… My grandparents house. They have a huge property in Daylesford where they have a sawmill and keep bees. They are also massive hoarders, this place was a childhood wonderland of broken down cars to fix up, lawnmower that became billy carts and general exploration.
I would like to travel… The Outback. I’ve been lucky in life that my career as a model has taken me so many lovely places but I’m really not well traveled with in Australia, we have such a beautiful country, I would love to see more of it.
The highlights over the past 12 months have been… Starting House of Riot. It has completely changed my life, I have met so many amazing people on this journey and had the opportunity to be apart of things I really feel will change the world. I spoke at the National Change Makers festival a couple of weeks ago, being invited to speak alongside people I idolise was definitely a highlight.
Advice I have to share for those who want to get into this profession… Be brave and go for it.
The latest project I’m working on… We have so many on at the moment. I suppose that one that I’m most excited about is a collaboration with 3 Things, Oxfam’s youth activism program. We are putting on a music and art festival next year designed to discuss ideas around social and political justice.
Photographer: Katie Kaars
Interview: Michelle Owen