success for miss december comes wrapped in a tall package.
Miss December Cara Michelle has always stood a head above the rest. The statuesque 6'2" native Hawaiian knows it's all in the genes. "My height comes from my German background," she says. "My mom is 5'9", my dad is 6'4", and my brother and sister are both over six feet tall. I'm used to people staring and making comments about me. It bothered me when I was younger and less secure, but now I don't even notice." One would think everyone gets noticed on an island as small as Hawaii's Molokai, which Cara describes as having "about 6500 people, one high school, one town." But the 22-year-old home-schooled beauty spent only one year in a traditional high school environment. "The basketball coach would not leave me alone," she explains. "I was the tallest person in the school except for the captain of the boys' basketball team." Did this make dating an uphill battle? "I didn't have a boyfriend," she says. "I had braces and frizzy hair and weighed a hundred pounds -- just dorky. I grew up with my horses, one of which won a prize in a rodeo. I was the only one who could ride him because he'd dump everyone else. He was like my best friend."
Cara explored the other fruits of her tropical playground, spending her time surfing, sailing and scuba diving, but she got antsy for a change of pace. "I traveled to New York on a modeling job when I was 14," she says. "Once I got my first check after I got home, I said, 'What am I doing here? The whole world is waiting!' That's how I became a handful."
After modeling lingerie and swimwear in New York, Milan, Greece and Istanbul for four years, our nomad temporarily settled in Boston to earn a degree in liberal arts from Fisher College. "My mother believes that I'll never stay anywhere for more than six months," Cara says. "I always seem to abandon my apartments and move in with people I just met. Traveling this much makes long-term relationships difficult because you walk in and out of friends' lives constantly and can't really keep in touch with the people you meet all over the world. My phone bill is big enough as it is already!"
But Cara might not have to worry about that phone bill for long -- she's been busy writing songs and has even landed a few walk-on parts in some high-profile films. "I got a part in Crocodile Dundee in LA for one reason: When the director saw me, he nearly fell out of his chair. He said, 'Oh my God, you look like Elle Macpherson's little sister. I don't care if you can act or not, you've got the part.' I just wish my bank account looked like hers!" Cara also appears in Bedazzled, starring Elizabeth Hurley and Brendan Fraser. "It was my big debut," she jokes. "I flick my panties onto Brendan Fraser's head as he's walking through a nightclub and ask him to call me."
Although she thinks she should learn to finish one thing before starting something new, Cara has never been afraid of meeting new challenges. "I throw my heart, soul and body into whatever I decide to do. I just go for it."
Photography by Arny Freytag & Stephen Wayda