A stroke of luck brought us to Paris this past July, suddenly widening the horizon of this project. Elizabeth is the very first model we portrayed there and her interview is the very first that comes with a set of pictures all shot on film. We spent some time wandering around between Parc Monceau and the Opera, talking modelling, Paris and California.
Thanks for meeting me in Paris, Elizabeth. You have been on stay for some weeks and picked Parc Monceau as our meeting point. Do you have a particular connection to the park? Is it a place you would go to on your spare time?
To be completely honest, I had never visited the park before our meeting there. I chose the park because I feel at ease when I am surrounded by nature and in Paris, a public park was the greenest place I could find.
Paris has this whole romantic myth about it, which is often celebrated in movies and TV. Is it your first time in Paris? What is your impression now after a little reality check?
It was actually not my first time in Paris. I had been there a few times with my mother when I was smaller, so I did not exactly remember the essence of the city. I can understand why this “romantic myth” surrounds Paris. Every so often I would see men and women on the metro on their way to their lovers with large bundles of roses or kissing passionately on the street. However, I also witnessed people fighting in the street and police roaming the sidewalks of Paris with machine guns in hand. It’s hard to classify any city within a single perspective.
You have been growing up near San Diego with a direct view to the ocean. Would you say you are a true Cali girl?
My heart goes out to California and it is a place I always intend to call home. I can not picture myself ever living somewhere without an ocean nearby. It is truly my idea of paradise.
Europeans probably have quite a stereotypical view of California and its lifestyle, it is again this image you get out of the media. What would you describe as your typical local lifestyle? What are the little things that make California so special?
The media describes California in many different ways, but for the most part I’d say they are slightly accurate. We all use the word “dude”, kids mob around in packs on skateboards doing ollies on sidewalks, girls run around in their swimsuits, barefooted on the street, and everyone loves burritos. Most people are pretty liberal and laid back in the smaller cities, like La Jolla, where I’m from. But skaters/surfers are definitely not as “slow” as people depict them in the media. What I love about California is the diversity of the state. You have the redwood forests, the beach, and the desert all within reach. I also love the people, maybe it’s just because I grew up here, but I feel like they tend to be more accepting than other places.
Is that correct that you have been scouted by IMG via Instagram? No wonder, it being all the rage right now. But did you ever expect it to happen? Has this affected the way you share things on it now?
Yes that is correct. I was scouted by IMG in February through Instagram. I never expected them to find me because I only had about 200 followers at the time I was discovered. I never tagged them in anything, so I was really surprised when Jeni, the head of development at IMG, commented on one of my photos. I always posted my modeling photos on Instagram because it was a good way for me to network with other photographers, but other than that I hardly used it. I don’t like the way some people try to glamorize their life on Instagram. I’m not one to pretend to be something I’m not in order to impress people on the internet. So, no I haven’t really changed the way I post things on Instagram.
But you were not all new to the industry. You have been modeling from age 9 to 15 and then quit. How did you start a career as a child model? What are your feelings and memories when you look back at that time?
When I was nine years old I heard an advertisement on the radio for a company called Proscout. I met with them at a hotel in San Diego and after some people were eliminated, I was chosen to move on to the next round of scouting at a different hotel in Los Angeles. I went to the hotel and there was a long catwalk with scouts from different agencies sitting around it. People danced, sang, acted, or walked. I walked. I had a photo of myself in a bikini at the beach with my big pink surfboard. I gave it to the different agencies. LA Models was one of the agencies that contacted me in regards to beginning my career as a model. I signed with them until the age of 15, when I decided to quit temporarily. Child modeling is much different than modeling as an adult. Child modeling is usually all smiling and jumping around and being happy. It’s about personality. Modeling as an adult is a bit different. It’s about being a strong woman and looking fierce and sometimes sassy. As a child, I was a bit shy around people I didn’t know so I did not book too many jobs. But I never let rejection discourage me, and here I am today with IMG.
Within a two years time you went from teen model to full-time international working model. How did this change affect your life and your view of the job?
I never really expected to model internationally. After high school, I originally planned to move to Santa Monica with some friends and model part time in LA while going to community college. It’s crazy to me that I have been given such an amazing opportunity and I am so grateful for everything that has happened to me.
Working as a model can be very challenging at times. What motivates you most? Is there something you are really looking forward to?
I am motivated by a desire to better myself. I am always looking to improve myself and become a better person and work as hard as I can. If I do become a supermodel I hope I can use my influence to do something that will really make a difference in our world. I try not to look too far into the future and instead take things as they come in the present moment.
Do you have a special trick to carry the ocean with you, even here in the City of Lights?
No, unfortunately I have no tricks. I just miss the ocean terribly.