My Top 5 Travel Destinations

Sydney, Australia

I chose Sydney, Australia because I have always been so interested in the country on the other side of the world. I recently started watching a Netflix show called Dance Academy. This is one of my favorite shows because it is about dance and it also takes place right in the heart of Sydney. Seeing how amazing Australia is through this show and the fact that I have two amazing friends who are like my siblings who live in Australia makes this dream of mine even more exciting.

Bora Bora

Bora Bora is my second spot for a couple of reasons. I always see it on social media as a dream vacation spot, and I also love how crystal clear the water is and how remote and exotic it is. There is one particular spot where the houses are in the water—it's so pretty! Bora Bora has always been a place I have dreamed of relaxing in.

Prague, Czech Republic

-The city of Prague in the Czech Republic is a place that is so unique, small, and interesting in so many ways. Prague has a very medieval and early European vibe to it. I love European history and although Czech Republic is not too well-known for tourists, I find it very intriguing. In Prague they have a lot of older architecture, like the arched bridges that were first created by the ancient Romans in the 4th century BC. They also have a lot of old cobblestone streets. I think visiting Prague would be a great way to experience a piece of Europe.

Montana

Montana, USA is a place I just recently became interested in. I chose Montana because it is so uninhabited and calm. It is such a beautiful big piece of land full of insane forms of nature. I feel like a trip to Montana would be such an incredible escape and cleanse from daily life. Montana has open land, lakes, mountains, and so much more. I would love to just hike around Montana and embrace such an amazing place.

Tanzania

Lastly, I would love to go to the country of Tanzania in Africa. I have wanted to go to Africa to volunteer. Over the past summer, my sister lived and worked at an orphanage in Tanzania for almost a month. The experiences she had and the bonds she created with so many of the kids there were so remarkable to me and made me realize that I want to visit there. She lived with the kids in one of their houses, woke them up every morning, helped them get ready for the day, and walked them over to school. Each day, she would teach at least one lesson to the kids, then she would play with them in the evening. She formed a bond with all of the kids and they became like family. This is an experience that I would love to have.

As you can see, all of the places I chose are very different and fit different parts of my personality. They all have something special about them that makes them very interesting to me. I hope that before too long I can visit all of them and make a new list of the top 5 places I haven't been!

My Journey: Chapter 1

I had gone to my first Fashion Passport that April in Alaska. From that first experience with Fashion Passport, I knew it would be so incredible to become the Face of Fashion Passport. The month of August during the contest to become the face was so much fun. I got to come up with marketing ideas that will help me in the future, and the contest made me realize how many people in my life wanted me to succeed and to watch me grow as a person. This was a major confidence booster and helped me realize all the support I have to make my dreams come true. Up until the final hours of the contest I had people voting and texting me. The anticipation of waiting to find out who had won was one of the hardest because I wanted to win so badly and I knew how close the competition was. 

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When I finally heard the news I was at dinner with some of my closest friends for one of their birthdays. My mom walked into the restaurant and didn’t say anything. From the way she just looked at me, I knew I had won. I leapt out of my seat and started to cry because I was so overwhelmed with joy and excitement. All of my friends ran up and hugged me. That moment was such an incredible experience and one I will remember for the rest of my life.

It took me a week to process the fact that I was actually the Face of Fashion Passport. The time leading up to my first trip was so exciting as I looked forward to all the amazing things we were going to be doing. Finally, the time came for me to fly to Arizona, and from the second we landed I was busy. I learned a lot about the company, marketing strategies, and more as I did interviews and photoshoots with Gianna Nicole and the whole team. I got to do my own hair and makeup the whole week, so I got to learn different looks and techniques.

My first official photoshoot as the Face of Fashion Passport was with Gianna Nicole in Flagstaff, Arizona. I shot in the woods and did a fall look, then we drove up to the mountains a little further where it had just snowed and I got to do a snow shoot. Over the next few days I got to do a dance photoshoot by a lake, take a class called Core Rhythms which is a strengthening ballroom dancing class created by the amazing 12 time rhythm champion and designer of Artistry in Motion Julia Gorchakova, and do a sunset boho photoshoot with Georgia with a gorgeous horse. This was such an amazing experience because I have never done a photoshoot with an animal, let alone a stunning horse.

I also got the opportunity to shoot with Joseph James. The look for this shoot was absolutely incredible. I was wearing an old lace wedding dress, a leather jacket with studs, and boots. This was such a fun shoot to do because there was a story to go with the look. I was a biker chick who just got married and hopped on the back of a motorcycle. My hair was all ruffled up and crazy. After this shoot I got the amazing opportunity to work with Joseph and learn more about his acting course call the 7 essential characters. He coached me to start creating several different characters that I could tap into and pull from their experiences and emotions during auditions. Since then we have continued meeting weekly and growing these characters. After that lesson, we set off for our trip to California. Our first stop was the Glamis sand dunes. We arrived at a hotel in Glamis that night and crashed so we could so a sunrise shoot in the dunes.

The next morning, we were up bright and early at 4:30. We started our hair and makeup and were out the door before sunrise. When we arrived at the dunes I was just overwhelmed because in front of me were mountains and mountains of sand. It was stunning. We walked a little way out and I got to shoot photos and video of one of the beautiful Artistry in Motion dresses with AJ. When I was done with my first look, the sun was rising and reflecting off of the sand which made everything around us look golden. We continued shooting another look for a total of four hours and then we got in the car and finished our drive to LA. When we arrived in LA, we went straight to the beach and did another photoshoot! This look was super cool because I was in jean shorts I had made out of jeans earlier that week and a very big sweater. The waves were crashing behind me and of course I got a little wet. After this shoot we raced to our fitting with the amazing Justin Haynes, designer of Jus10H designs. We rehearsed a routine for the finale of his show, which is always so unique. That night we all went right to sleep because we had another long, fun day ahead of us.

The next day was the day of the shows. We had to be at the venue for hair and makeup by noon so at least we got to sleep in a little. Once our hair and makeup was done, I got to co-host the red carpet with Georgia. It was such an amazing learning experience for me to be able to see her interviewing all of the incredible designers. I got to walk for two designers: Fashion Disorder and Jus10H. Fashion Disorder’s designs were all stunning and done in all black and white which I thought was very aesthetically pleasing. The next show I walked in was for Justin. I had two outfits in this show which was so amazing. The finally walk went perfectly and I am so glad to have been a part of such an amazing show. After this show I put on another fabulous Artistry in Motion dress. I got to sit in the front row for the last show which was such an amazing experience. I got to see beautiful models and learn from each of them different things to improve me as a model, and I got to see gorgeous designs. All in all this was an amazing day filled with incredibly talented and kind-hearted people and I am so grateful to have had been a part of it. The next day I flew out of LAX and arrived back in Pennsylvania. Even though I am not with the Fashion Passport team in person anymore, I still hear from them almost every day. We are hard at work on new shoots and trips together and I cannot wait for more amazing adventures as the Face of Fashion Passport!

My Bio

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My name is Ellie Monique Matus. I am 13 years old and live in the small town of Royersford in eastern Pennsylvania. This year I am an eighth-grade cyber student at the Pa Leader Charter School in West Chester, Pa. I have two brothers, Jacob who is 21 and Tucker who is 20, and I have a sister McKenna who is 17. I also have a big crazy dog named Lacey and two cats named Jingles and Fig. My home is a very busy place!

In addition to being a student, I am proud to say that I am a model, a dancer, an actress and a philanthropist. My interest in the industry began about 5 years ago when I had a part in a small play for Drama Kids International, and from there I started taking a few acting classes. Headshots followed, a few small modeling jobs, and I knew I loved both acting and modeling. My love for dancing came from my years as a competitive gymnast. When I was 8 I was an all-around state champion gymnast, but the year after I grew so much and switched to dance full time. I have been in love with dance ever since. It is one of my greatest passions.

I am currently a pre-professional member of the Klassic Contemporary Ballet Company in Philadelphia. I have spent the past two summers training with the Company and performing at the Fringe Festival in the Fall. I hope to continue to be a part of the Company and transition into the professional Company. I am also a member of the Dance Depot Competition Team. As a team member I train all year long in Ballet, Pointe, Contemporary, Lyrical, and Jazz, learning advanced technique and choreography. This year I am competing two solo, one trio, and four group dances. Last year I performed a solo dedicated to the victims of Parkland, and was awarded the Junior Miss Beyond the Stars title for my performance. I was so happy to not only dance well but to raise awareness at the same time.

From the first times I modeled when I was younger, I knew that it was something I had a passion for. I started small with a few local photographers, progressed to doing some small runway shows, and recently walked at both New York Fashion Week and LA Fashion Week. I also have walked in the charity Runway show AIMS, which raises awareness for autoimmune diseases. I have shot bathing suits in a mansion in Greenwich, Connecticut, fun activewear in Bryant Park, modern glamour in a snowstorm in Alaska, and most recently beautiful gowns at sunrise in the hot sand dunes of Glamis, California. I absolutely love all of it! I feel so lucky to have been named the Face of Fashion Passport and to be connected to the company at the ground level.

I love acting and being on commercial, TV, and movie sets. One of my favorite experiences was shooting an FTD commercial this past Valentine's Day. It was a really long day of shooting but it was so much fun and so worth it—I couldn’t believe it when I saw myself on TV during the Super Bowl and the Opening Ceremonies of the Olympics!! I have also been lucky enough to work on many TV sets, my absolute favorite being on Divorce with Sarah Jessica Parker. She was the nicest person and told me how well I did when I was working with her. I also worked for about three weeks on set of The Greatest Showman. I worked with the awesome Director Michael Gracey and of course the amazing and kind actors Hugh Jackman, Zac Efron, Michelle Williams and Zendaya. Watching behind the scenes and then seeing it all come together in the theaters was so incredible! I have learned so much and really feel comfortable and love being in that environment.

As a middle school student, I saw and experienced a lot of bullying and students, girls especially, being unkind to one another instead of supporting one another. With that in mind, my sister and I created the movement called G4G4L (Girls for Girls for Life). We are trying to encourage girls to unite and stand together in strength so they can all be successful. Instead of letting the people in my life tear me down, I chose to stand up for myself and I want to encourage others to do the same. I want to grow G4G4L and spread the message because I know this is something girls struggle with every day. Giving back is very important to me and I want to incorporate that into my future in many ways. Last year at NYFW I worked together with an awesome group from Gianna Nicole Media and Fashion Passport to collect and distribute Blessing Bags to the homeless of NYC. I was so excited about how many people from around the world wanted to give back and make a difference with me. When we spent the day walking the streets of NYC and watched how grateful the special people were who received them, I realized I wanted to do more and continue to give back whenever I could.

One person can make difference.

This is me.

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