Thanks slenderbreadmag.com for the feature! It is always an honor to be able to tell your story…
How did having a father working as a professional photographer benefit you? (Were there any other benefits besides having loads of photos taken by him?)
Photos by Judy Walker
Actually, my father was a professional football player. So, I CAN credit him for my hamstrings, but when it comes to pictures he still uses disposable cameras (I am not kidding). My mom is the professional photographer. For most of my life she was a stay at home mom, and to see her grow into the artist she is now is awe inspiring. She attained her degree and has not put her camera down in years. We have so many great pictures. She actually shot my engagement photos and she just came to visit in Miami and I took her down to the painted walls in Wynwood. We spent hours just goofing around and shooting. When you have a connection with the man or woman behind the lens I think your work comes out much more energized and authentic. I am so proud of her. She spent so much time and energy raising my bothers and I. To see her come into her own over this past decade has been so great to watch.
Did you always know that you wanted to be a fitness model, or was that a discovery you made later on? What led you to specialize in fitness?
No! I had no idea that a market like fitness existed until I moved to Oregon. Most of the big fitness brands are out there: Nike, Adidas, and Columbia. Essentially a fitness models dream. Unfortunately, by the time I got the ball rolling and was booking consistently my hubs and I embarked on our journey to Miami. In Miami I do a lot more commercials and lifestyle work, but I was able to book a big Champion campaign this season. It was a huge casting and they booked four of us. It is always nice to see when your hard work pays off, and although I love doing the resort and department store stuff fitness is my true niche.
You recently won the Wilhelmina Fitness Model search. How has this changed your career?
I did and I was about 5 minutes away from not entering. I knew a few girls who have been working with Wilhelmina Fitness for years and I just wanted to improve my book a little more before submitting. My former dance teacher kept sending me the link and encouraged me to enter and before I knew it I was flying to my home state (New York) as one of the five finalists and signed my contract three days later. My agent has been amazing even from afar, filling the gaps with great clients including: Reebok, Dick’s Sporting Goods, Fitness Magazine, Target and Kohl’s. Clients I do not think I would have ever gotten the opportunity to work for if it was not for Wilhelmina. I am planning on going up for the start of the fall season to get some more momentum going. So, we will see!
Was this the first time you had entered a modeling competition?
Yes! I was very hesitant because I already have great representation in Florida and I did have to pay a fee of $25 bucks. At the end of the day it was obviously the best investment I ever made. Before leaving for New York my uncle told me a story about my brothers lacrosse team. Before leaving for the national championship my uncle looked at coach and said “Hey coach, Why not you?”, and they went on to win the championship game. He uttered those same words to me before I got on the plane and you know what? For the first time in my career I took in every second and truly lived in the moment. I really did believe in myself, but after Wilhelmina explained that over 3,000 people submitted to the competition I already felt like a winner. Yes! I did “win” the entire contest, which is still crazy to think, but the best part of the trip wasn’t when they announced my name as the winner. It was the overall experience of being able to share such a pivotal experience with my mom, to arrive to a beautiful bouquet of sunflowers from my husband and to have two other finalists gain a contract as well, what more could you ask for? It was a dream come true and such an incredible experience.
Some of your clients include Fitness Magazine, Nike, Under Armour, Om Shanti Yoga and Wal-mart. Who has been your favorite client to work for and why?
I think my clients tell a story of my journey in the modeling world, and I see them all as moments in time. They were all such different experiences and I would love to continue to grow and work with all of them! My first fitness job was over five years ago with Under Armour. I was actually told to step out of many of the shots lol, but the images that were used crazily ended up being ones that I was in. It is incredible to see how far they have come as a brand and I would love to work with UA in the future.
Nike was an whirlwind experience and I actually shot for their first video game (Nike for Xbox Kinect) while living in Oregon. They shoot a ton in Portland because that is where home base is. Before moving to Miami I had the opportunity to shoot some other cool things for them including the release of their Nike for NFL women’s jerseys and the Team USA Olympic warm up’s for the London games.
I recently shot my second spread for Fitness Magazine coming out in their September issue. Those shoots kick your butt! They are probably the hardest shoots you do because you have to do a full work out and hold every position for almost a minute or two at a time and then shoot video of each exercise, but the crew who you shoot with is top notch. They are really like a family, and it is always a blast to shoot with them.
Recently I shot a Champion campaign that was a huge surprise. It was such a large casting in Miami and that phone call was a great one to get. The imagery shows us as strong, real women and I am honored to be able to represent Champion this season.
Your blog is heavy food-focused. How does food play a role in your life? Is it an important one?
Food has always been a huge part of my life. My grandma is Italian and my mom taught me to cook Italian “gravy” at a young age. Luckily, I have always had a fast metabolism, but at 25 something changed. I wasn’t dancing as much and my digestion wasn’t the same. I do credit the Wilhelmina contest for giving me the push I needed to eat clean. Eating well has transformed my body and the want or need for anything processed has gone out the window. My hubby is from Ohio and is a meat and potatoes guy through and through. It has been a blast to cook him healthy food and have him enjoy every last bite. I like a challenge and I know when he goes back for seconds that recipe or meal is a keeper! Eating right keeps me in tiptop shape for last minute castings or jobs and enables me to indulge on date night!
What is your regular fitness routine? Do you ever mix it up with anything fun?
I get that question a lot and since I was a dancer I always have to change it up. I actually don’t own a gym membership, but I utilize my online personal trainer from http://www.ImFitandhappy.com. She tailors workouts to my needs and changes them up on a monthly basis. She offers daily feedback and I am addicted!
I also throw in some Nike Training Club and head down to Vinyasa Hot Yoga once a week. If I don’t have a full 30 minutes to an hour to offer up I usually check social media. On Instagram I love @workouts_daily and utilizing Pinterest for a quick circuit. If all else fails, I love to jump rope for 5-10 minutes, such a tough workout.
Oh and the hubs got me a paddleboard for Valentines Day. I love to throw the board in and cruise. Paddling takes care of your mind body and soul.
What is your fitness background? (Did you dance or participate in sports when you were growing up? If so, what and how did it help shape you as a person?
I have been a dancer my entire life. I was classically trained in many styles of dance: Ballet, Jazz, Tap, Hip Hop, Modern and Musical Theatre. I eventually went to Towson University where I was a captain and won four National Championships. Fun Fact: They have the most consecutive titles in dance team history. I went on to coach at the collegiate level and now travel doing dance team choreography and camps.
I also played so many different sports growing up. I was a track sprinter and high jumper as well as tried my hand at basketball and field hockey. I was a ninth grade PE teacher on Long Island. So, I had to have knowledge and experience with many kinds of sport. This really comes in handy as a fitness model because when you are on set for a sport they want to make it authentic and it is really hard to do if you don’t have experience.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
In five years….I cannot say for sure. There has been so many doors opened for me over the past three that I cannot wait to see what lies ahead. I am starting the journey to become a personal trainer and group fitness instructor, but I take my life day by day and chip away at reasonable goals daily, weekly, monthly. I hope to continue to improve my youtube cooking channel / blog and by then I hope to be fortunate enough to embark on the journey of motherhood and live happily healthily ever after…