How did you begin your career as a model?
I got started at birth. There was a small agency in my hometown, right next to my family when my mom was pregnant with me. My mom became a model as well and did local modeling jobs, acting and TV commercials. Growing up, I thought my mom was famous. I said to myself: “I want to be famous just like my mom.” I really wanted to become an actor and I still do. I went through many phases and finally my mother’s agent signed me. They sent me to a convention called IMTA. There I got discovered and signed by Wilhelmina. At the time I didn’t know what was happening. That summer, they sent me to a job in Europe. It was for London Fashion Week and I learned a lot. I can say most of what I know about modeling and this industry I learned from my first experience on the runways.
When you’re walking runway shows in different cities, what goes through your mind?
It’s about the whole experience — it’s an adventure, an opportunity. Fashion week has given me amazing travel experience and industry experience, but I don’t want to stay in fashion forever. Eventually I will want to spread my wings into the commercial realm. I want to act as well, so when I go into it I will keep reminding myself it’s an experience and enjoy the moment, as I love to jump on opportunities others can’t or won’t. But it can be nerve-wracking at times.
Has there been a “wow” moment during your career?
During my senior year in high school, it was 10 p.m. on a Tuesday, I’m ready to head to bed and I get a call from my mother’s agent, she asks me to take photos in my Calvin Klein underwear and have them sent to my agent at Wilhelmina. It was superweird, but it was really urgent. When I asked what it was for, they said I was on hold for the Calvin Klein campaign. The next thing I knew, I was getting a call from the casting agent directly and right there on the spot we booked my travel to L.A. for the next morning. I arrived in L.A., got to a salon, they bleached my hair, I did the shoot — which was about four hours — and then I flew back home. The next day was back to my normal life, back to school and all my friends kept asking me why I bleached
my hair. I sort of bragged a bit that it was for the Calvin Klein campaign. It was a bit surreal. I said to myself, “I could get used to this.” The they booked me a second time and that was awesome.
What do you think of the modeling industry?
If you are lucky it can be very fulfilling, but the key word is “lucky.” In this industry, it’s based on looks, your specific look. You can’t do anything about it, and there is no reason to get down if you are not successful. You just don’t have the look that people want at the time. But to me, it’s just the beginning, a means to gain connections and insight on the industry and overall knowledge that will benefit me to launch in a different direction.
What advice would you pass on to someone starting out in the industry?
Persistence. You need to be kind and open-minded. “Don’t speak like you know it, listen like you don’t.” It’s one of my favorite quotes my dad told me growing up. And take all the opportunities. If you do that, you are bound to gain something positive.