THE lights, the outfits, the crowd - every aspect of the runway excites Grafton High School student Gabrielle Larkin.
Which is a good thing, because she may be doing a lot more of it soon after tasting success at the nationwide Aboriginal Model Search earlier this month.
Out of more than 100 contestants in the open section, Gabrielle came first runner-up.
It was a huge achievement for the 17-year-old, and one she didn't dream of when she entered the Grafton heat for the national model search in January.
"I never did anything like this before and I really just did it for experience... and just for fun," she said.
By winning the local competition, she secured a spot in the national final in Sydney.
The next few months were spent throwing herself into the model lifestyle - eating well, working out and practising her walk.
Then there was the all-important quest to find the right dress to compete in.
"Gabby's formal gown was actually bought at Lasting Impressions in Grafton," mum Michelle said.
"We went everywhere - Brisbane, the Gold Coast - and came home and found the dress right here."
On the day of the final at Rydges World Square, hopeful contestants were interviewed by agencies and had two photoshoots before a rehearsal.
Gabrielle, who is usually comfortable in the spotlight as a dancer and actor, said her nerves didn't kick in until the big show.
"During the practice and run-throughs it was all very calm and cruisy," she said. "But the night of the performance was very daunting, and very exciting as well.
"I love everything about the runway, it's quite an adrenaline rush. It was definitely an amazing experience."
As part of her prize for placing second, the Year 11 student will go for a photoshoot with a leading photographer. The images will be placed on an agency's website.
"That will hopefully open doors for me," she said.
"Now I've been introduced to the whole scene it's definitely something I want to pursue."