Homeless at 13 and pregnant at 17, Carla Banks is now set to become a reality television star.
The 38-year-old Birkenhead resident will appear in the premiere episode of Starting Over on February 10.
The programme helps women carve a new career path and gives them a physical makeover.
Ms Banks received new front teeth, botox, a new hairstyle and an updated wardrobe.
A film crew followed her journey for more than four months as she sought to combine her passion for social work, which she studied at university, with her current career as a film and television makeup artist.
She has worked on shows such as New Zealand's Got Talent, Outrageous Fortune and Good Morning.
Ms Banks, of Nga Puhi and Scottish descent, started up the makeup department at Maori Television and says there is not a Kiwi celebrity whose face she has not done.
Starting Over also touches on Ms Banks' childhood. She was brought up in Remuera but family problems meant she was on her own at 13.
"For a time there I was homeless. It was a really dark time in my life, I was a bit of a street kid," she says.
She ended up in the court system because she was skipping school and "hanging out with some pretty undesirable people".
After a year-long battle against the State, her 19-year-old sister won custody.
She says at the time, her sister was the youngest person to take custody of a minor who was not biologically their own.
At the age of 15 she was homeless again, until she was taken in by the family of her son's father about a year later.
Ms Banks has now lived in Birkenhead with her husband and children for the past 12 years.
"I came to stay on the Shore for one week about 16 years ago now. I can't leave, I love it," she says.
For someone who is used to working around cameras, being in front of them was a new experience, she says.
"They're in your face and you're like ‘Oh my gosh, this is a little bit of a role reversal' and then you sort of forget about it, and so that's why I'm cringing a little bit."
She says she is scared about seeing how the weekly ‘diary cams' will turn out.
Starting Over premieres on February 10 at 7.30pm on Vibe, Sky channel 7.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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