#FlashbackFriday: How I Got Into The Modeling Industry

I may have had a successful career in this industry—but it wasn’t always easy.

In 1991, I was enrolled in prelaw at Vanderbilt University, but that was about to change. At the end of my sophomore year, a girlfriend who had done some modeling suggested I take pictures with a fashion photographer she’d worked with in Memphis. It wasn’t something I’d considered before; but the second she said it, I knew it was something I wanted to try.

So, I drove my butt down to Memphis and a few looks later, took my first-ever modeling shots with the photographer and days later, we sent the pictures to all the New York modeling agencies.

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My very first modeling photo!

A few agreed to meet with me, so my momma and I flew out to the Big (and scary and exciting) Apple to take meetings.

Straight out of Murray, Kentucky (population less than 15,000), I walked into my first meeting at Next Model Management wearing pearls, pantyhose, and carrying a leather briefcase. I looked part preacher’s wife/part tax attorney—zero part model. We had our meeting; I was nervous, but remember feeling overwhelmed with excitement.

At the time, Next was owned by Jean Luques, Lorenzo Cedrini, Joel Wilkenfeld, and Faith Kates—I met with all of them. Jean Luques and Joel did not want me. Literally, when they saw me, they thought, “Next!” But not Faith; she saw something in me they didn’t see. If it wasn’t for Faith’s faith in me, I would not have a career. She got her way and Next took me on. She gave me my first ever big break, backed me from day one, and I’ve been with Next ever since.

A lot has happened since I first signed with Next! I’ll be honest—I’ve received as many no’s as I have yes’s. I wasn’t the prettiest, tallest, or the skinniest. I didn’t have the clearest skin or the best body. With hard work, dedication, and a whole lot of faith—I ended up going from a “catalog” girl to the covers of French Vogue, Sports Illustrated, and beyond.

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Even if there was some luck involved, I’m a big believer in that quote, “Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.” I prepped, plotted, prepared, and planned. I did everything I knew to give myself the best possible shot.

There’s actually an entire chapter in my book The Everyday Supermodel dedicated to my journey and what I’ve learned along the way. Also known as “I Made That Sh*t Happen!”

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I still continue to apply these make-sh*t-happen strategies in my personal life. In fact, anyone can. I’m now offering autographed versions of my book, The Everyday Supermodel, for you to order in partnership with CZND. Get your copy here!

Actress, model, active humanitarian, & Mom! Author of 'Everyday Chic'.