After almost two years away from the limelight and grieving for her friend Heath Ledger, New York-based Perth supermodel Gemma Ward plans to be back on the catwalk next year.
Ward also intends to go to university and is taking Shakespearian acting classes.
She denied international media reports that she had given up her successful modelling career.
"I have not 'quit modelling' and my fans back home can expect to see me back at work modelling and acting in the new year," she said in an email to The West Australian.
Her mother Claire Ward revealed that her daughter plans to stay in the US to pursue her acting career and is considering doing a three-year course at the prestigious Yale University.
Mrs Ward said the former Nedlands schoolgirl was working towards achieving a long-held ambition to be an actress.
"She's 22 years old and has worked incredibly hard," Mrs Ward said. "She's had a very difficult few years personally and now she's having a really lovely time doing things she wants to do and enjoying being young.
"She's been doing some great drama theatre courses and is considering doing a three-year course in Yale which is a great possibility. She's making one step at a time."
Discovered by a model scout in Perth at 14, Ward had a meteoric rise in the tough world of modelling and catwalks.
Her wide-eyed look and doll-like features captured the attention of leading fashion houses and she has done global runway shows for Gucci, Prada, Chanel and Versace.
She has appeared on 24 Vogue covers and was the youngest model to feature on the cover of US Vogue at the age of 16.
Many would understand how Ledger's sudden death in January 2008 could have prompted Ward to reassess her direction and resurrect the acting ambition she had before she started modelling.
Ward's acting aspirations received a boost last year with the success of her first major feature film, The Black Balloon - in which she played the girlfriend of a boy caring for his autistic brother - starring Toni Collette.
Mrs Ward said her daughter had visited Rio de Janeiro to see Brazil's shanty towns, or favelas.
"She was very interested to see what's behind the glossy facade of Brazil and looking at the slums, with a view to doing something there in the future," she said.
Along with her father Gary, the model has visited Malawi with The Hunger Project, an Australian charity which raises funds to build facilities there.Mrs Ward said her daughter recognised that she was very lucky to have made her money from modelling and now wanted to spend time developing herself.
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