“I’m still young and I’m just getting in the groove of it all,” said Shaughnessy Brown, the 20-year-old model repped by Next Management, on a recent afternoon at WWD’s Bryant Park offices. Brown, an Orlando, Fla., native, seems to have a mature outlook despite her tender age. “Growing up with all of this, it’s really helped shape me, but also taught me a lot,” noted Brown. “You’re being pulled in all these different directions and getting all these opportunities. You have to have a fearless approach, or else that fear will pull you straight down.”
Brown, who was scouted at age 15, moved to Los Angeles after high school to pursue acting, then switched gears and — after a few brief stints in Australia and throughout Europe — moved to New York City a year and a half ago, where she’s been modeling ever since. The 5-foot, 9-inch model, who is Native American and Irish and looks like a cross between Mazzy Star’s Hope Sandoval and a young Brooke Shields, has thus far appeared in an editorial for Vogue Italia and counts scoring a beauty campaign among her future goals. “It’s cool being able to play with all these different people and artists, and getting involved in the whole story process,” she said.
WWD: How did you start modeling?
Shaughnessy Brown: When I was growing up, everyone was like, “Oh, you look beautiful. You should be a model or an actress.” But I was never really into it. I was kind of a tomboy. I liked to play sports and live to the beat of my own drum instead of being in this micromanaged world. I got scouted at around 15 years old, but I didn’t start until I actually graduated.
WWD: What was it like growing up in Orlando?
S.B.: Disney World, warmth and water. I have half-brothers and sisters. I’m an only child from my mom, but I just found out I have another brother.
WWD: How did your career take off initially?
S.B.: I graduated high school, and three days after graduation I left. I wanted to get out and go. My mom is super open-minded about anything I want to do. She’s super stoked for me. She doesn’t really know this world. I moved to Los Angeles first because I wanted to get into acting, and I just really wanted to travel. That’s why I stepped into this whole world in the first place.
WWD: Do you still want to pursue acting one day?
S.B.: I’m taking it one step at a time. I think me stepping into modeling before acting really helps. A dream role would be “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo” kind of feel. She was such a badass.
WWD: When you’re not busy working, what do you like to do in New York?
S.B.: I live out in Brooklyn. I love New York. It’s the energy. When you first move here, it’s overwhelming a bit, but you have freedom to go anywhere you want. I like to go to random coffee shops. I like to venture around and see different museums and experience the culture. There are so many people you can meet here.
WWD: What sorts of projects are you currently working on?
S.B.: I’ve been creating a real portfolio of who I am. My [editorial] book right now is representing the different characters I can be. I found a really good team [at Next Management] that understands how I want to portray myself and brand myself. I can be a beautiful girl but also a rugged cool chick.
WWD: What’s your trick to keeping a positive outlook in such a competitive industry?
S.B.: I’ve finally come to the conclusion that you go in, you do your job the best you can, keep a clear view about things, and then continue the rest of your day — get a coffee, whatever, just keep going with your day. You’re an individual and…look at me, I’m preaching (she laughed). But really, we’re all individual people and you just have to do the best that you can. It all comes down to how you look and your personality and how you approach it, and then you move on with your life.
WWD: How would you describe your style?
S.B.: I like ripped clothing, nothing too perfect. A good heel or a good boot is always good. I don’t like to wear makeup, but you want to look the best you can when you go to meetings and try to get jobs with clients and photographers. But I feel the most confident and the greatest when I can just be myself.
WWD: Can you think of the weirdest thing you’ve ever had to do on a photo shoot?
S.B.: Just the other day, I had to jump on a couch with a boy half naked. I was wearing a nude bodysuit. Artists are kind of wild. When they put models in these positions, they think that we will do anything. Sometimes [at presentations], you’re standing there in these weird feathers and constructed dresses for like, six hours or something crazy.
WWD: What are your thoughts on Instagram?
S.B.: Expressing who you are in your own way [on Instagram] allows people to see what you’re doing and communicate with you. It’s all these different people together in one spot, and I think that’s the freedom in it. I think it’s a great outlet for any guy or girl to express themselves in. Even you.
WWD: What are some of your goals?
S.B.: I’d love to get a cosmetics campaign. That’s a big goal of mine. Also, to work with a brand that’s a whole family, and you can consistently work with the same people; a brand that has a strong viewpoint, something that you can really stand for.
WWD: Where do you see yourself in five to 10 years?
S.B.: I wouldn’t still be doing this if I didn’t see myself in this career, that’s for sure. I would like to not be rooted in New York in the long-term future. I think right now is my travel time while I’m young. But I think I’ll want to be based somewhere close to the water.
WWD: What’s your idea of happiness?
S.B.: I don’t have a ton of really close friends in the city yet. My place of happiness is when you have that solid group of people, and that place you can go to be with them.