Interview - Hannah Fraser

Interview: Hannah Fraser, Professional Mermaid, Artist, Activist and Model - July 2017


Hannah Fraser official website


Environment Models Art

When and how did you discover your artistic streak?

I’ve been artistic since I was a tiny child. My mother was very artistic and as I was growing up she engaged me in lots of fun play with stories, paint, pottery, calligraphy, creative writing and dress ups. I excelled at drawing and spent endless hours creating fantasy worlds of mermaids and fairies.

When did you first become interested in Mermaids, and what was the point where you knew you wanted to incorporate much of your life and career around mermaid culture and the like?

As soon as I could draw stick figures, they had tails! I was always fascinated by the idea of beautiful maidens living in the sea, riding the waves and living one with the ocean! As a kid I naturally swam With my legs together and felt totally comfortable underwater. I used to go to the library to research where I could find mermaids in real life! I was so frustrated that no-one seemed to be able to tell me. When I was 9 years old I saw the film ‘SPLASH’ starring Daryl Hannah as the mermaid, and it blew my mind! It was the first time I realized that it was possible to make my dream of being a mermaid happen in real life.

I realized it was my dream to have a tail too, and created my first mermaid tail with the help of my artistic and supportive mother.

Later in life I learned to swim underwater with a hand crafted, fully functional mermaid tails, that took me many months and thousands of dollars to design and create. Being a professional mermaid was a SELF CREATED job. There are no schools I could go to, or agents that would find specific mermaid work for me. I had to be self motivated and creative in my approach to making it happen!

My life near the ocean began after I finished school and moved to the sub tropical paradise of Byron Bay NSW East Coast of Australia.

I had continued making mermaid art for 20 years. Now I began modeling, performing and costume designing. I was hired for an underwater photoshoot, and the imagery that was created showed me that I was born to be in the water!!It was the one point where all my passions converged and I became the living example of my artistic dreams.

Now I create high-end art tails.. and each one takes over 4 months of work to make. There’s a lot of intensive sewing, gluing, and constructing. It’s a labor of love, but worth it in the end. My tails are functional, durable, self-fixable and very beautiful! They are fully functional underwater and help me to swim fast.

I have been performing as a mermaid since 2003, and to my knowledge I was the first person to make a full time career out of being a freelance professional mermaid. Creating a career that fit into my passion rather than trying to fit into an existing career path hasn't been easy, but endlessly rewarding.

I moved to Los Angeles in 2010 to fully explore into my passion, and make the most of my career in a place where there are many creative people with a lot of motivation! I have worked in many of the world's top aquariums, performed at large scale events, and been featured in photo shoots, campaigns and short films for many large companies and creative ventures. I have swum with great white sharks, whales, dolphins, manta rays, stingrays, turtles, seals, and a wide variety of other sea life. SO far I still have all my limbs!

This love of mermaids was definitely something that was part of my soul no matter where I lived or what else was going on in my life. I used to have dreams of flying.. and now when I swim in the ocean, I feel like I am weightless, flying through an ethereal landscape of beauty! Dreams do come true!

What's parts of Australia and the world has being a professional mermaid taken you?

I have been incredibly blessed to travel to some of the most beautiful and remote tropical locations for my work! I have swum with great white sharks in Guadeloupe Island in Mexico, Tiger Sharks in the Bahamas, Humpback whales in Tonga, Pilot whales in Hawaii, Mantas in Indonesia, Turtles in Australia, Seals in the Galapagos Islands, tropical fish in Fiji, and many more adventures! I am heading to the Cenotes in Mexico next!

What's the biggest and most significant mermaid projects you have ever worked and participated in?

Shawn Heinrichs and I took on a projects that people said were impossible..

We created the world’s first Whale Shark Fashion shoot, encouraging one Island community to make more profit by non-invasive eco-tourism than from shark finning. The photos and story went worldwide.

Next we took on protecting Mantas Rays.

These creatures are giant, harmless, majestic beings whose numbers are dropping dramatically. They are being hunted relentlessly in mass numbers merely for their gills which are sold on the Asian food market.

The Convention for International Trade of Endangered Species called CITES meets every 3 years to decide which animals will be listed for protection. We created the short film Mantas Last Dance, to inspire people to care! It went viral worldwide, and was shown to the convention delegates at CITES. Manta rays were put on the protected list, garnering more votes than any other animal, land or sea.

We also shot a film with Tiger Sharks. What I witnessed when interacting with them was astounding to me. Of all the animals I’ve connected with in the ocean, they were the ONLY ones who came around again and again to be touched and even tickled on the nose! I’m not suggesting that everyone go and try to pet tiger sharks… They are still wild apex predators, and I was with a group of trained professionals.

The film ‘Tigress’ was seen by over 50 million people the first day it was released on tv networks and online. Once people saw these animals in a different light interacting harmlessly with a human, interest soared, and people felt connected to the issue!

With a call to action, it inspired thousands to sign a petition to the Environmental Protection Agency of Australia to end the shark culling program. Soon after, CITIES increased protection for 5 species of sharks.

All of these efforts have been in conjunction with thousands of environmental organizations around the world calling for transformation and compassion.

Did you have any mentors and people who have inspired you in your career?

Martin Seleki, an environmental film maker and amateur underwater filmer was an initial help in shooting the very first mermaid footage of me, and giving me help and ideas on creating my own monofin.

Shawn Heinrichs has been instrumental in inspiring me, collaborating on environmental campaigns and to be able to swim with large ocean animals.

My mother, Ri Fraser was the initial inspiration to make a tail, and she has helped me creatively throughout my entire life.

My father Andy Fraser was helping organise and fund some of the environmental projects for Tears of a Mermaid film before he passed away in 2014.

Was the Channel Seven 'Today Tonight' feature around the time that much of Australia finally become aware of you, or was there a key splash media or event prior to that which helped make the masses of Australia's aware of you?

The first big TV interview I did in Australia was A Current Affair and the first big job I got was being featured at Sydney Aquarium for the arrival of the resident Dugongs.

Stay tuned for the next part of the amazing, talented and inspirational Hannah Fraser...

Click here for part 2