I’ve been playing sports ever since I can remember. When I was just a toddler I did gymnastics and dance; specifically, ballet and tap. I also dabbled in softball and soccer when I was in middle school. And yes, at 5 foot 10 inches tall, I played basketball and volleyball (insert rolls eyes emoji).
Basketball is HUGE in my family. Both of my parents played basketball in college, in fact, that’s where they met (think Love & Basketball but the college version minus the breakup). My dad’s older brother and my mom’s older sister played basketball at the same school. My uncle’s now-wife played basketball there as well. So, you get the gist! I started basketball at a super young age. I played varsity basketball for four years in high school and then went on to play volleyball in college (that’s a story for later).
With all that being said, sports are ingrained in my genetic makeup. I’m a competitive person who’s naturally good at most sports. Due to my height, most people assume that anyway. There is another thing that people assume about me too, though: that I’m a model.
All of my life people would comment on my height and ask if I was a model or suggest that I try it. I never ever considered modeling. Especially, not after watching all the intense challenges the contestants on America’s Next Top Model had to do! I knew I was not cut out for that.
It wasn’t until last year that I decided to give modeling a chance. I had been out of college for a few months and was no longer playing competitive sports. I was also job-seeking so I had a lot of free time. I saw an advertisement for a modeling competition that would be happening at the mall. I was reluctant to sign up but, with a little encouragement from my dad, I decided to go for it. The sign-up sheet asked what type of modeling I wanted to do. I checked off “print modeling”. I knew I definitely didn’t want to do commercials or runway.
After a few weeks, I got a call to come back to the mall for round one of the competition. Thinking I would be taking photos, I put my hair in a sleek bun, wore subtle makeup and put on my tallest wedges, hoping that my super-height would make me stand out even more. To my surprise, when I got there, we were assigned to memorize some lines, walk the runway, and recite our script at the end of the stage. I was MORTIFIED! “I’m not an actress! I didn’t sign up for this!”
I was freaking out! I just wanted to take pictures and leave! But I was already there and determined to finish what I started. I memorized my lines, did my best runway walk (which was very stiff and too fast) and was able to recite my lines pretty convincingly. At the end of round one, my name was called as one of the finalists to come back for the final competition. But first, I would have to return to do a photoshoot for a portfolio.
Even though I initially signed up for print modeling, it was a lot harder than I thought! Trying to think of unique poses to do (that actually look right) is really challenging. I also felt a little awkward since this was my first photoshoot ever. The photographer ended up giving me a lot of direction and, out of about 50 frames, I liked three (insert straight face emoji).
Now that I had pictures for my portfolio, I was ready for the final competition. The final competition consisted of runway and (dun dun dunnnnnn) talent! This was dreadful! I don’t have any “performing” talents. Yes, I used to dance but I wasn’t good enough to do it as a talent in the final round! I’m pretty good at drawing and writing, but once again, not a performance! Luckily, I had just started learning sign language that summer and decided that I would do that for the talent portion of the show.
I started learning a poem called “Martin Luther King” in American Sign Language (ASL). I spent the days leading up to the competition on YouTube perfecting my sign language and trying to pick up new runway walks. On the day of the competition I was super nervous. Yes, this was a modeling competition in the middle of the mall, but I was nervous to be out of my comfort zone in front of so many people. Luckily, when it was my turn I was able to perform my talent without stumbling. I felt so accomplished just completing a poem in ASL, a language that I had just learned a few months before.
Surprisingly, I felt confident before it was my turn to walk the runway. I had to make a conscious effort not to walk too fast, as I had in round one. I walked very slow (as least it seemed like it in my head) and had properly executed the moves I learned on YouTube. I felt pretty good! The winners would be announced a few weeks later via email.
Even though I did not know what the outcome would be, I felt SO accomplished after that competition. I had finally given modeling a chance! I was 100% out of my comfort zone, but I felt good doing it. In one day, I had performed a talent in another language and modeled in front of a huge group of people for the first time ever. Whether I won the competition or not, I knew I had taken great strides in my personal progress.
I ended up not winning, but was encouraged to use my portfolio to try to book modeling jobs and realize my full potential. Even though I didn’t win, I was happy. I was happy that at least the agency saw potential in me and that I wasn’t such a sucky model after all. I will say that after that experience, I will not be modeling again. I am able to check “modeling” off of my bucket list and move on to the next thing.
It’s safe to say that when it comes to natural talent, I’ll stick with sports. I do like wearing heels for fun, just not on the runway!
What’s something that you’ve never thought about trying, but would be willing to try now? I challenge you to get out of your comfort zone and do something you never imaged doing! Try it (YOLO)! I guarantee that even if you don’t succeed, you will be happy that you at least tried.
As Coco Chanel said, “everyday is a fashion show and the world is the runway.”
So let’s go out everyday and rock that runway!