Production: Zhiyu Qu @zhiyu_qu
Model: Briana Taylor @itsbrietaylor @48entertainment_
Photographer: Zhiyu Qu @zhiyu_qu
Makeup Artist: Jianqiao Lu @beautagelu
Stylist: Zhiyu Qu @zhiyu_qu
Style assistant: Yaxin Zou @thisisyaxin
Photo assistant: Jialang Cai @wanchicai
VT. What made you want to start a modeling career in the first place at the age of 18?
I always had a love for fashion, clothing, and just being glamorous. I started to do some kids’ modeling for a local boutique in our hometown that my mom put me in at 4 years old. I fell in love with the feeling and confidence it gave me even at a small age. After this, I began telling everyone that I want to be a model when I grow up when they would ask. I always wanted to start chasing this from then but being in Indiana it wasn’t much opportunity for this and as a kid, my mom did not want to expose me to the modeling world yet she believed I was too young and it was not real life. So by the time I became 18, everyone had convinced me that this is not a realistic dream to have, so I began Fashion school because this was the next best option for me. In my heart, I knew my passion is in the fashion industry. Through school, we had to plan a school fashion show held 2 times a year. Everyone had a role to play in the class to set up the show but my teacher insisted he only wanted me to be a runway model for the show. It was this show where I met my first agent. This was all that led to me becoming who I am today.
VT. I believe you got to walk in NYFW that same year. How was that experience and how did you achieve that so fast?
So once I began modeling in Indianapolis I began traveling to other places like Chicago, L.A., and then NY for work or castings. My agent submitted any girls who met the height requirements for NYFW and were willing to travel there. 3 of us were invited to come to castings but were not guaranteed to be in any shows. I was so excited about this opportunity but I was also nervous. When I arrived in NYC I was amazed. I had been to other cities but never seen one like this. Every day felt magical to me. I ended up being booked for 2 different designers Elle Forgiatto and Elier Aubret. Modeling in NY was a different level for me. I was surprised by the harshness of some of the casting directors and other staff but I also was impressed by the true honesty. This is the only we can get better from knowing an honest opinion. The clothing, makeup, hair, and backstage scene all was amazing and new to me. When I walked down the runway for the first time there I felt a rushing sensation that I never had felt before. I was also so nervous before every walk but once I got out there I was focused. I felt that this opportunity was a once-in-a-lifetime experience but little did I know this was only the beginning. When I had to return home and leave Ny I felt a deep sadness like I missed someone. I knew this was where I was the happiest.
VT. What’s it like living in NY from a model’s perspective? Do you have more opportunities there?
I would say yes. In NYC there are so many more opportunities you have access to every day. Coming from Indiana, I appreciate that this city is filled with opportunities in almost every field of work. In Indiana or other smaller states, the majority of people don’t dream and aspire to be a model or entertainment figure, But NYC has no limitations on dreams and that is what I love. Any major agencies are also only located in major cities. To work full-time as a model, you need to be in a major market where you have access to the agencies, castings, designers, and the project itself. Modeling can also be very last minute so you have to be accessible to be available at any time.
VT. Besides modeling, which are your interests, likes, and hobbies, and what do you enjoy doing in your free time?
My interests include fashion, health and nutrition, and also spirituality. I enjoy viewing art on the street or in a museum, art can be found everywhere. I also enjoy painting and sketching when I have downtime. I enjoy reading books about our minds and the power we hold if we are present and mindful. I enjoy reading and learning about natural health as well different herbs, oils, crystals, methods, and other natural remedies to heal or help different aspects of our bodies. Then using these remedies and trying them out. I also enjoy traveling being in nature or doing adventurous activities when I’m out of the city like jet skiing, hiking, ziplining, riding ATVs, and just seeing new places and cities. I also love to try new foods and experience different cuisines. I enjoy cooking new things as well. My hobbies include yoga, running, trying out new makeup or hair looks, reading, cooking, painting, and traveling.
VT. Have you considered other career paths outside modeling, for example, something related to your studies? Tell us more about it.
I actually first started doing cosmetology, hairstylist, and makeup/facials. I had a passion for beauty as well and got this license while I was in high school. I loved doing hair and creating styles but I wasn’t planning to do this forever just to get through college. I did this for over 2 years. While I studied fashion marketing because I knew I wanted to be in the fashion industry but I wasn’t sure where I fit exactly yet. When I first moved to NYC I continued doing hair as before but this would take away from a lot of modeling jobs, as I expressed before you need to be easily available at any time. I then decided to pursue modeling full force. I did have an interest in becoming a fashion stylist while I was in school or creating my own fashion line. I still am interested in these things and want to pursue them but first want to focus on my modeling career and building myself as a brand. I also recently just obtained my real estate license for NYC and began working as a sales agent. This allows me to flexible with my schedule and I am able to do both.
VT. Which future plans and ambitions do you have at the moment?
My plans are to continue to build myself as a brand and as a model. This year I plan to travel to Europe to do some work out there and pitch myself to agencies there to expand my markets as a model. I want to continue expanding as a worldwide model. I also want to build my own companies. After taking some time off from my 9-5 to pursue modeling I realized I want to be my own boss and pursue entrepreneurship later on. I am currently working on building my own fashion line for women which I plan to finish and release in 2023. This is the first business venture I am starting but am open to doing more and different businesses later on. I also am working on a singing project I plan to release this year and expand myself as an entertainer/artist which I am very excited about.
VT. Any funny or interesting moments you have experienced in the modeling industry you could share with us?
Where to start from quick changes backstage where you’re practically throwing everything off to get in a new outfit and back on stage in 90 seconds, changing in a pop-up changing room in the middle of Soho during an outdoor shoot, having to do a perfect runway walk in shoes that happen to be two sizes too big, having ten hands in your head backstage to achieve one look, or needing three people to help peel off latex gloves after shooting in the blazing sun for my bazaar shoot there is a lot of interesting moments in modeling. On one of the first runways that I did back in 2017, I had a cut on my foot so I had on a band-aid over it in my heels, when I was walking down the runway my band-aid fell off on the runway. After the show I was so embarrassed I was crying because I thought everyone saw but when I saw my agent and others there to watch us in the show no one had even noticed. I learned then that sometimes it’s just about making the imperfections unnoticed.
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