This is the second time in a few weeks I have written a tribute to an amazing lady I have known who has passed away.
I am not here to write that Charlotte was my best friend or that I saw her all the time, I didn't.
I first met Charlotte Dawson when I appeared on a television show in 2007 called 'Runway to LA', a spin off of 'Australia's Next Top Model'. I had auditioned for the role of the stylist on the reworked "ANTM" and got the gig, (in the way television works) within a few weeks the production company had changed its mind and gone in another direction so I had been dropped. One of the executive producers of "ANTM' had taken a shine to me and wanted to have me make an appearance on the spin off show "Runway to LA' and as they were going to film in Melbourne I did the show.
This is where I met Charlotte, she was quite the star of television at the time especially now that she was to host this spin off show for Foxtel and the huge success of 'ANTM'.
I off course expected to meet someone that was like her on air persona, tough model judge. I really didn't expect her to even look at me, just film our bit and go onto the other scenes they needed to film.
She walked into our location came right up to me and used my name 'Hi Philip, so great to meet you. I hear you have some great clothes for us'. She was warm, professional and friendly to everyone in that room.
We went onto a second location and in the filming breaks Charlotte got chatting with myself and my partner at the time about our upcoming holiday to Queenstown in New Zealand, she spent time listing the places we had to go and chatted about lots of things she loved in Melbourne. Charlotte didn't need to do any of that, it was a busy filming schedule and she had details to remember and producers to work with. I always remembered how kind and giving she was to both my partner and I and how she was nothing like her TV persona, just a friendly person.
I really didn't think I would meet her again but was happy to have met just the once to experience her warmth.
'Runway to LA'
Nigel and Charlotte
The producers of 'ANTM' contacted me a year and a half later and asked me to appear on an episode of 'ANTM' where I was to be part of a challenge for the contestants as a super nasty stylist to test their professionalism. Sarah Murdoch had taken over as host and my close friend Nigel Stanislaus, (who was the Australian make up director of make up brand Maybelline) had the role as a judge and on air make up chief who would appear in my scenes with me on location where I would be hideous to the model contestants. I off course did my best to be the most awful and nasty stylist I could as well as treat poor Nigel dreadfully just to see what these budding models would do. I'm pretty sure the producers wanted me to make the girls cry. At the end of my scenes Sarah Murdoch was to return after earlier introducing us to let the models know it was all a test and I was acting being nasty.
I did have a few choice lines that of course did make the editors of the show happy, one was to a girl in a tweetie bird costume ( the youtube clip is attached to clear this up) who had just asked 'what am I meant to be?' I answered very dryly 'A bird, a very ugly bird'.
Cut to the glamorous launch night of the new season of 'ANTM' later that year that I attended with Nigel in Sydney at Luna Park and we saw Charlotte on the red carpet and she shouted "Oh my god its one very ugly bird!!!' She had loved my 'bit' on the show and decided she was going to continue to call me 'Ugly Bird'.
Nigel had become very friendly with Charlotte while filming the show in the outback and in Sydney and had begun socialising with her outside of the show, in a few visits to Sydney I had some brunches and breakfasts with Charlotte and Nigel which were always fun and in her usual manner she enjoyed meeting people and collecting friends finding out about what they did in their life.
'Australia's Next Top Model' Cycle 5 Episode 5
I remember a day when Nigel and I were having coffee and Charlotte called and said she was in Melbourne and had heard that Nigel was too, she was about to get ready for the Logies and she asked would Nigel do her make up. He mentioned I was with him and she said 'quick come to the hotel and lets get together and get me ready for the red carpet'! We had a fun afternoon and she looked gorgeous in her custom made sequin gown by her good friend designer Alex Perry. She had even said in her usual self deprecating way 'God I look like a silver Logie!!!
A little later in that year I had a call from Charlotte who was in town and she said she wanted a big shopping spree in Melbourne and would I pick her up from her hotel and take her to the best stores in Melbourne. I picked her up in my vintage Mercedes (which she loved) and my partner at the time and I had a great brunch and catch up with Charlotte and a great day shopping showing her my favourite stores and hidden gems.
It was at this time she had just started to use Twitter and every opportunity was taken to update and share her life with her followers. I had been on Twitter for a while and hadn't found it to be addictive but I sensed that it was becoming a little for Charlotte but didn't think much of it, this was early on in her use of the social media platform and we could never have foreseen the kind of hideous abuse that she would go through years later from those vile Twitter trolls.
Over the coming years I would see Charlotte at parties and events as well as the odd catch up lunch and she would call me particularly when she was writing an article for a newspaper or magazine and wanted a Melbourne fashion angle, whether it be for the Spring Racing Carnival or one particular time when she would ring many times to be updated about the story of the Gasp store here in Melbourne who's bad retail experience had gone viral around the country.
Nigel had talked with me many times about Charlotte sharing her depression with him, how helpless he had felt and how could he help her. It is the most awful feeling to know someone you know is going through this, I have had experience with partners dealing with depression and even suicidal tendencies from my early 20's, it is heartbreaking and the continual feeling of helplessness is something you don't forget, ever.
It is probably why in some sub-conscience way I decided to align myself with the Prahran Mission Charity here in Melbourne that works with mostly people affected with Mental Health issues through my PHILIP BOON PRESENTS: charity events.
It is something that 1 in 5 of us in this country will go through in our life and I applaud the Prahran Mission's charter to de-stigmatise mental illness. We will all know someone or will be someone that deals with this, we have to embrace learning more about mental illness and be not afraid to talk about it openly. I believe when you shine light on something it comes into focus and you can hopefully understand it a bit better. Charlotte did this continually in the last few years by letting us share her illness, shining a light on it and bringing it to the worlds attention. It was tough to hear her going through such awful depression but it seemed she was strong enough to keep it at bay.
She wasn't, and she took her own life last Saturday.
This above is the last photo I have of Charlotte and I together at the launch of designer Matcho Suba's collection a while back, as I said at the start of this post I was far from her best friend or even a close friend. I loved every time I got to see her either randomly or planned, I loved chatting about 'fashion things' on the phone and feel very lucky to have even got to see her again after that first meeting on 'Runway to LA'.
She was as everyone, friends, colleagues and family has said in many articles and on television, a kind sole that was always giving and there for you, even if you knew her for a day.
I'm sure she would hope that we would start to talk more about depression and the anti bullying campaigns she was so passionate about as well as being more gentle and kind with each other as she was to all she met.
She would also want us to laugh more, her laugh was infectious.
Goodbye Charlotte, I hope you are rocking that red carpet in the sky in your usual style and are at peace.
If you would like more information about the work the Prahran Mission do please go to: http://prahranmission.org.au
If you or someone you know is needing help:
Lifeline Australia 13 11 14
Suicide Call Back 1300 659 467
Kids Help Line 1800 551 800