Christina Hendricks' modelling agency thought she looked "ugly" when she first dyed her hair red.

The Mad Men star - who is a natural blonde - changed her hair colour when she was modelling early in her career.

Despite initial criticism, she decided to keep her flame-coloured look after beating off competition from a number of other models thanks to her new bright tresses.

"When I first started modelling I was blonde. Then I got a job and they wanted to do my hair bright red. I'd always wanted to, but the head of my agency was like, 'You look terrible, it's so ugly, you cannot have red hair'," she said.

"I came back as a redhead and couldn't get my hair back to blonde for two days - in the meantime I had to audition. I booked two or three jobs, because there were a lot fewer redheads than blondes, and I was like, 'This is working for me, I'm keeping this'."

Hendricks also credits her flame-coloured locks for helping her land Hollywood movie roles, such as 2011 action film Drive.

She said her hair ensures people remember her.

"I think it does make you stand out. People remember you when there's a sea of faces. It helps."

The West Australian

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