Olivia Sturgiss is a 19-year-old checkout girl from Bowral, New South Wales. She has almost 50,000 Instagram followers because—Olivia's own effervescent personality aside—she looks a lot like Taylor Swift. Luckily she's also a huge Swift fan, which makes getting snapped on public transport and dealing with online haters a little more bearable.
The similarities aren't just skin-deep. Olivia is a self-confessed "crazy cat lady," just like Taylor, which is why we took her to a cat-themed cafe in Sydney to talk about online stardom and play with some cats—mainly the latter. As it turned out looking famous is great, until it feels like you're living in a bubble that isn't yours.
VICE: Hi Olivia, so how did the whole Taylor Swift thing start?
Olivia Sturgiss: I'd be working at the checkouts at Target with no makeup on and had long brown hair and people would occasionally say, "You look a bit like Taylor Swift in the face."
Just before Taylor Swift's Red Tour I went to the hairdressers and I was complaining about how pale and sick I looked all the time. The hairdresser suggested I should lighten my hair so I got dark blonde hair with a fringe. When I went to the concert people started asking for photos. It was really surprising.
How did you feel when this started happening?
I was kind of paranoid because I didn't want people to think I was a try-hard. Of course I'm going to wear red lipstick and eyeliner at a Taylor Swift concert, like every other girl, but I also happen to have the haircut and similar features. Now I won't even have my hair done and people tell me all the time so I can't really escape it.
How has life changed for you since?
If Taylor is in the country it goes absolutely crazy. People will actually approach me on the streets. It's worse when I go out and there are lots of drunk people around. It's like getting cat-called but instead I get called Taylor Swift. People would just yell it out—I'm not a dog. They call out at me, "TAYLOR SWIFT!" while pointing directly at me. Then others go, "She doesn't even look like her" as if it's an insult. Grown men like to call out "DON'T WRITE A SONG ABOUT ME!"
Does that get annoying?
Depends on my mood and the day. I don't care what people say but the fact that they're saying it in a mean way—the tone of voice—that bothers me. Sometimes I'll feel really over people taking photos of me on public transport without asking. Someone once posted a photo of me on the train on Facebook with the caption, "Is this Taylor Swift?" Another time on the train, a stranger came up to me and was like, "My friend's on FaceTime can you say hi to them?"
On top of that you have almost 50,000 followers on Instagram.
Yeah, people always ask what it's like having fans. I don't really have fans. Taylor Swift has fans. I don't feel like I've done any significant work or anything to earn fans for myself.
I heard you got to meet the woman herself. What was it like?
So Taylor's people messaged me on Twitter during a concert and asked if I wanted to meet her. So I walked in and it was so surreal. It was like the second coming of Jesus. She was like, "Oh my god, you look like me." She was just ridiculously perfect, like you just wanted to punch her. She was that gorgeous. And she's so petite too, I thought she'd be tall and skinny like me but she's actually a lot smaller.
Now that you've found fame, does it come with any perks?
I'd feel like too much of a douchebag to use it to get things. At the concerts, all the parents who got their kids photos with me say I should charge people for photos. I always say no because I don't do this for profit. I'm a fan first and foremost so if people think that I look like my idol, that's cool. And while I do have attention on me, I can talk about things that I care about. I can raise awareness about uterine endometrial cancer because my mum passed away from it.
What are your plans for the future?
I'd like to travel around a lot. I've found other lookalikes on Instagram and we've been chatting and becoming friends. There's a Harry Styles lookalike who has 80,000 followers. Then there's another dead ringer for Taylor Swift and she lives in the UK. We chat on Facebook all the time and when I go to the UK we plan to go out together.
Would you recommend this experience?
I don't know if I'd recommend this to anyone. Sometimes it feels like the bad outweighs the good. There's the awesome stuff like meeting my idol, appearing on TV, and opportunities to build my own success. But then comes the harder things to deal with like people who stalk and message me constantly, people saying mean things on my posts online, people accusing me of trying to be Taylor Swift.
People have no respect for personal space and privacy. It's not like you have the luxury of having personal security like Taylor herself, and yet you get harassed just for looking like her. Sometimes it feels like I'm living the downside to Taylor Swift's life.
Follow Naeun on Twitter.