Homeless at 13 and pregnant at 17, Carla Banks is now set to become a reality television star.
The Birkenhead resident will appear in the first episode of Starting Over - a programme to help women carve a new career path with a physical makeover - on Vibe.
In the show - for which Banks received new front teeth, botox, a new hairstyle and an updated wardrobe - a film crew follows her journey for more than four months as she tries to combine her passion for social work, which she studied at university, with her current career as a TV makeup artist.
So far Banks, 38, has worked on shows including New Zealand's Got Talent, Outrageous Fortune and Good Morning.
Of Nga Puhi and Scottish descent, Banks started the makeup department at Maori Television and said there was hardly a single Kiwi celebrity whose face she had not done.
Starting Over also touches on 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 said.
Skipping school and "hanging out with some pretty undesirable people" meant she ended up in the court system, however, Banks was taken into her 19-year-old sister's custody after a year-long battle with the state. At the time, her sister was the youngest person to take custody of a minor who was not biologically their own.
By 15 she was homeless again, until she was taken in by the family of her son's father about a year later.
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 said.
For someone who is used to working around cameras, being in front of them was a new experience, she said.
"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's cared about seeing how the weekly "diary cams" turn out.
Starting Over premieres on February 10 at 7.30pm on Vibe.
- North Shore Times