Wait…. what? It’s 2013?!?! Let’s celebrate turning a new leaf of a beginning of a new year and just the gift of seeing another year come with family and friends. There is just something purifying about a new start isn’t there? I celebrated with my friends and boyfriend near home. We kept it low key, but it did give me an excuse to make healthy treats! I chose my fruit & cilantro salsa and a fluffy pudding and berry dessert. Soon after the celebration was over, my vacation was over and it was back to traveling for me! I was thrilled to begin the year heading to Orlando for the AMTC-SHINE Convention for which I was invited to be a guest speaker. This is the convention I competed in back in 2010 to be scouted by FORD Models. Since then, my life has been forever changed.
AMTC stands for Actors Models and Talent for Christ. The non-profit convention consists of several seminars to teach young and aspiring actors and models about ways to keep their faith while pursuing their dreams in the entertainment industry. My job was to speak as someone who competed and is now working in the industry. I spoke in two different seminars where the students were allowed to ask various questions. I HIGHLY recommend this convention for anyone interested in modeling, acting, singling, dancing, or any type of job in the entertainment industry. Other people who are AMTC alums include the country singer Chris Young, Ben Davies of Courageous, Army Wives’ Noree Victoria, Megan Fox, and many more! Visit www.AMTCWORLD.com to find out more.
Some of the questions I was asked included:
“What are you daily rituals to stay close to God? “ – I answered by describing my daily devotional – Jesus Calling (highly recommended!!!) which is tattered and torn from carrying it with me as I travel each week. However, I purposely bring it with me when I travel not to make myself look good, but in hopes of starting a conversation with a stranger in order to introduce them to Jesus. It has happened several times and gives me an easy opening on a subject that isn’t always easy to bring up. Another question was…
“Have you ever witnessed to other people you know became Christians?” – my response to this question was my story about a girl who was from another country who didn’t know about Jesus or Christianity very well at all. I met her while I was shooting for Kohls one day. She described how she didn’t like the rules it requires us to follow. I get very nervous when needing to witness to someone simply because I know my words could have a major impact on them. It is a lot of responsibility representing the Christian heart around people who have been turned off from God. I tried my hardest to explain that Christianity isn’t about just about “the rules,” but it’s about the relationship with Jesus and accepting his ultimate sacrifice. This reminds me of the song titled “The motions” which refers to Christians who get so caught up in the act of do this don’t do that that they forget the most important factor – do they know Jesus? For Jesus said: “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. 22 Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ 23 And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!” Matthew 7:21-23.
So yes! It is important do do his will, but he must also KNOW US as your best friend knows you. It’s important to have the relationship with him as you do anyone you care for and put effort into maintaining a relationship with in your life.
Although I haven’t seen that girl I witnessed to since, I just hope I made a difference. I am working on not getting nervous as I witness to others because God says to let him talk through you. He also says to let your actions speak the loud.
Another question someone asked me in the seminar was: “How do you stay pure in this industry when people push you so far?” – I described the importance of letting your agents know how far you will go and what you won’t do when it comes to shoots, acting, and anything else. I also spoke about having that one person you trust to guide you in the right path when sticky situations arise– because they will. I described my story of doing just this when I called my mother agent Nise Davies from Tennessee. After speaking with her I have had a clear understanding since about what I consider okay and what I don’t when it comes to work. (Any aspiring models/actors wanting further advise on where to draw the lines in such gray industry – find me on modeledbymaria FB page and message me! I’d be happy to help and supply further details of my story!) Overall, I have been truly blessed with FORD who totally understands me, and puts me as a person opposed to a source of income, first. I will never forget when I was competing at AMTC and the FORD scout – Shannon – said herself in a seminar “don’t let this industry become WHO you are, it is just what you DO.” I strive to never forget that, and I honestly think that is the reason why I have any success that I do have today.
I was supposed to be teaching aspiring actors and models about God and this industry, and I sure hope I did. However, I left the sunshine state being so inspired myself from all of them. My eyes were opened to how blessed I am to be working in this industry and having the job that I do have. I also was reminded of the importance of shining God’s light on other people in the industry, and to not take that lightly. “For who knows that you have not come to a royal position for such a time as this?”-Esther 4:14.
The new year continued on wonderfully from AMTC with several flight changes in order to go directly from Orlando to Dallas to shoot for JCP (JcPenny). I shoot swimsuits for their website. Although it may seem like the dead of winter to you, swim season is in full force here in the modeling world to prepare Spring ads. I love shooting there because the studio has the southern hospitality just like home back in KY, yet it still has the big city feel. I had to take a picture when I saw water served in Mason glass jars . From Dallas I went back north, bypassing home, to Chicago to shoot for one of my favorite and most family-like clients of all time – Sears. It is never a boring day in that studio due to how much the stylists, photographers, and hair/makeup artists make me feel at home. Finally, I flew back to KY after several days on the road in order to have a few more days at home before hitting the road again. Although many people would complain about days on the road, I simply love traveling and truly enjoyed starting the year off this busy. My hope is that it continues strong and that this is the best year yet!!
Lastly – just so you can hold me accountable… my new year resolutions:
1. Blog MORE!!!!! (I haven’t decreased my traveling or photo-shoots… just let holidays and finals get the best of me and my time!)
2. Live slower – allowing more time before having to leave the house to not rush so much. I’m also only taking 2 classed for my online grad school this semester in order to keep my sanity with traveling. This increased tie included increased time before passing out in bed in order to get my personal-God & me & maintaining the relationship time in.
3. Be on time more – okay…see? I admitted it…. it isn’t always traffic’s fault
4. Attempt doing more yoga and eating more organically – going along wit my overall goal of slower/more relaxed living
5. Don’t let traveling be an excuse to not be more actively involved at church opposed to just attending Sunday services.
6. Never take a day for granted and remember life is all about relationships with those around me – it’s important to nourish them adequately!
For help meeting ay health related new years goals you have click on the sub-categories of entrees, desserts, and snacks to find indulgent recipes made healthy etc at http://www.modeledbymaria.com/health-and-fitness-2/
Although my original plan was to only stay in Miami for the month of January and maybe some of February, events kept coming up to keep me there longer. I was grateful to get to experience my first Mercedes Benz International Fashion Week towards the end of March. ‘Mecedes Benz Fashion Weeks’ happen across the country in various cities. The one you’ve probably heard most about is the Fashion Week in NYC. In Miami was the same concept, but ‘Miamized.’ There were days and days of castings, rehearsals, and then of course the shows. Some of the shows had around 200 models from all around the world auditioning! At times I honestly felt Americans were the minority, so it was extra fun to bring some southern hospitality to the mix as I learned about other cultures and tried my best to represent the South appropriately. There was one show my best friend Ashley (and roommate) both auditioned for. When they called out both of our numbers for the cut, I was overwhelmed with excitement! What a blessing to get to walk in my first series of shows for a MBIFW with my best friend! I had participated in numerous runway shows prior, but none quite the same as this. I hope you enjoy the photos below!
Other than that, I am finally back home in Kentucky!!! I am grateful to have had the opportunity that I had to spend some time in Miami, and not only under sunshine, but along with one of my best friends! Many memories were made and I learned a lot! I wouldn’t trade any of it for the world. I’m happy with the success I had there with the agency and working. Although I still had to travel out of town almost once a week for my regular clients in Milwaukee and Chicago, I was able to build my portfolio for FORD-Miami with numerous test shoots. Some of the photos that are now included in my portfolio are in the various galleries and slideshows here at www.modeledbymaria.com. Scroll through the older posts and they will be there! I also am happy with a few new clients there who I hope to be sent down to work for here and there. As of now, I’m going to continue doing ‘direct bookings’ from my home in KY as I did before going to Miami.
I have already had 2 since coming home Tuesday of last week. The first one was a weekend job shooting a commercial for the University of Alabama. This job came through my ‘Mother Agency’ called Advantage Model and Talent out of Nashville. I was ecstatic to see one of my old friends on the list of actors. She is Chanley Painter, who was Miss Arkansas USA the year I competed. Not only did we get close during the 2 1/2 weeks of competing for the title of Miss USA, but we got even closer when we were chosen as counselors for the Miss Teen Fantasy Camp that went along with Miss Teen USA in the Bahamas during our years of our titles. It was great to catch up with her. It was also fun to have my mom along for the ride. She was a trooper and helped me make the 7 hour trip so I could do some homework as she drove. Chanley’s mom came too and we all watched the UK game vs. Louisville after shooting. I love my entire state…. but I can’t hide that I’m a true UK fan, which therefore means no Louisville. I was very nervous when finding out we were playing each other during the Final 4 just because I knew how tense of a game it could be and I hoped that the motivation UofL had from losing our previous game could work in their favor. Regardless, I’m happy to say we came out on top!!!!!! And no worries, although I was forced to wear a type of red on the Louisville game day (crimson to be exact… ) I feel confident that I let everyone at the shoot know I was a true UK fan!
Besides that I got back home yesterday from Milwaukee where I shot a commercial for Bon-Ton/Carsons-Scott. The previous commercials I’ve shot for them can be found on a few posts back.
Other than that….. WHAT ABOUT THEM CATS!!! NATIONAL CHAMPS!!!!! Congrats to the boys of the UK team, Coach Cal, and everyone else involved behind the scenes. Since interviews at UK media day earlier this year, I could tell you were a special group of boys. We are very blessed to not only live in one of the best places in the country, but in a place that knows how to bring home the championships!! Congrats also to UK Baseball who is also ranked #1 ! UK All the way! Big Blue Nation!!
After my first week living in South Beach, I can honestly say I’m loving it (as evident by this very long post- sorry about that! Just keep reading until there are no more photos ) I have almost settled into the apartment and got everything together. After working in Milwaukee on Monday and Tuesday for Kohls last week, I flew directly to Miami to begin my temporary time living here to work with FORD Models of Miami. I had to hop a shuttle at 3:55am from my hotel in Milwaukee to make it to the airport in time… that hurt a little bit! Thankfully it was a fairly empty flight and I was able to stretch out across them seats and nap on the 3 hour and 20 minute ride here. Since I was trying to save as much money as possible, I shipped several boxes of my things from Kentucky to Miami and also checked two bags. On top of that, I had a carryon, a pillow, and a large bag that served as my ‘purse.’ Needless to say, it was a hard few days of traveling! I just considered my hauling of things around as a constant workout! Regardless of how tired I was, I got very excited when I saw my Miami roommate, and one of my best friends Ashley Durham, at the baggage claim. She helped me get my bags that were stuffed to the full 50 lbs. allowed, and off we went to our apartment!
I couldn’t be more grateful that Ashley had come down to Miami in December and searched for a place for us to stay. She found an amazing apartment in Miami Beach, which keeps us away from hustle and bustle of downtown Miami. It is a beautiful apartment with an incredible view. Additionally, we have one of the best landlords you could ask for. She is a lady who has been modeling through Ford for over 20 years. So, she definitely understands our crazy lifestyles and takes very good care of us. Our apartment has one bedroom and two baths. It works perfectly to have one of us on the comfy fold-out couch and the other in the main bedroom. It is especially handy having two bathrooms in the mornings when getting ready for castings and work. We have gone on a casting almost every day so far since we’ve been here. The day after I arrived in Miami, I went into the agency office fo to meet the agents for the first time. It’s a little hard to believe that I jumped on this opportunity to temporarily move to Miami without having ever been to Miami before and also having never met the agents here before. However, I felt that if they believed in me enough to offer me a contract and if I had Ashley to go with me, that I would jump on the opportunity to come on down! I’m sure I wouldn’t have been so trusting if I hadn’t already been with FORD Models out of Chicago. But since I had, I had learned a lot about the Miami office and had enough emails and phone calls to get to know them. Plus, having my mother-agent in Nashville personally know one of the agents at FORD Miami helped me trust her opinion in making this career move. If you read my previous post about how the offer from FORD Miami came about, and all the signs I felt were pointing me to come here, I think you’d also understand why I couldn’t pass up this opportunity!
We haven’t spent a lot of time on the beach yet, but we have definitely been taking advantage of the wonderful atmosphere of neat restaurants near our apartment. Ashley and I have made a plan to eat out at some place new at least 2 times per week. We both like finding local ‘hole in the wall’ restaurants where we can become ‘regulars.’ We specifically favor any sushi restaurants. One of my favorite we visited so far was Sushi Samba, possibly because it brought back memories of when the Miss Universe Organization took all the Miss USA contestants there to eat and learn how to make sushi with the chefs! Since a slow morning and breakfast time is honestly one of our favorite parts of the day, Ashley and I try our best to wait for the other person to wake up so we can eat something together. Another thing we’ve taken up is playing the Michael Jackson Experience game for Wii. We are honestly hooked! It is so fun, just try it, you’ll see what I mean. It keeps us laughing for sure. But if you try it, don’t forget to wear the white gloves!
When I came to Miami, I was told by the Chicago office that I may still be traveling quite a bit to Milwaukee and Chicago since many companies are now shooting swimsuits. Today, I have been trying to plan my schedule as much as possible so I can have a nice visit home this weekend. Since we only have Ashley’s car for her and I to share, scheduling gets a little complicated. For instance, I drove Ashley to the airport Sunday night so she can fly for work in Milwaukee Monday. Then, I’m picking her up late Monday night. Only a few hours later she will take me to the airport early Tuesday morning so I can fly to Chicago to shoot for Sears. Thankfully the FORD agents are wonderful and booked my flight for me and have arranged a ride for me. So, I simply have to fly to Chicago, take a cab to the studio, shoot during the day, and fly back to Miami that night when Ashley will drive back to the airport and pick me up late. I’m guessing Ashley and I will want to sleep in Wednesday morning! After that, I’m hoping to fly home sometime for the weekend of the 20th to get some more things from home, see my family, and attend the Miss Kentucky USA pageant on Sunday. However, I am supposed to be back in Miami Monday for a photo shoot and then in Milwaukee later that week. I am praying that I can reschedule the shoot that’s on Monday and that I end up getting confirmed in Milwaukee Tuesday or Wednesday so that I can fly straight from KY to Milwaukee, and then Milwaukee to Miami (opposed to KY to Miami, Miami to Milwaukee, then Milwaukee to Miami), WHEW! That was confusing even to type! I just hope the photographer that I was supposed to shoot with on Monday in Miami will reschedule! This is probably way too much information for my faithful blog readers, but I thank you for listening! Regardless, it will all work out as it should. I just hope I have plenty of time at home to see my family!
When I stop to breath for a second, I reflect back to only 2 ½ years ago when I met Tony Bowls, the designer of my gown for Miss USA, who offered me a job modeling for him after I placed in the top 5 at Miss USA. Ashley and I were both working for him and met for the first time at the Atlanta markets where we did runway for Tony. There was something between us that immediately clicked. I think a big part of it is our simplistic attitudes. We are the girls that do like to have fun when we travel, but we are completely pleased with a night at the hotel with a movie and great food. We have a tendency to not be able to stop laughing at the smallest things at times, which makes hanging out together even more enjoyable! Fast-forward about a year from when we met, and I signed with FORD Models, spent a month in Chicago working, and then have been traveling since then. Fast-forward another year, and Ashley places 1st runner-up at Miss USA, comes to stay at my house to meet her ‘mother-agency’ in Cincinnati, who gets her to sign with FORD Models as well!! After she begged me to consider going to Miami with her, I spoke to my ‘mother-agency’ about my interest in Miami. They were already considering submitting me for possible representation through FORD Miami. Suddenly, I got a call from FROD Chicago who told me I’m on hold for a job in Miami, although I had yet to find out FORD Miami offered me a contract! Turns out, an agent in FORD Miami came across my photos on FORD’s overall database and was requesting me before ever knowing I or my mother agency (Advantage Talent in Nashville) were interested in sending me down. So, I figured it was God’s way of leading me to trade snow for sunshine for a bit and next thing I know, I’m in Miami! I have to take advantage of these opportunities while they are here! When else will I ever be able to jump around the country as I do now? Overall, Ashley and I are trying to grasp just what we are doing with our lives right now. We’ve decided we won’t be able to fully grasp how amazing this experience is for us until years down the road. At the moment, I think we’ve both just come so accustomed to traveling that it has become a way of life. But how amazing that our work brings us to Miami to spend a few months together!
When Ashley and I first met years ago, we had literally talked about dreaming to moving to a big city together for a while and working as professional models. Modeling was something I had always aspired and dreamed of doing, (I even have picturs of me about 5 years old posing like a model with my sister in front of the window in our living room for great lighting behind me! Ha!). Regardless, imagining actually moving away from home even temporarily as I’ve done now was incredibly intimidating to me. I would have never thought I would actually do it. I guess after a year of traveling as Miss KY USA, traveling a lot for Tony Bowls, and then gradually accepting the lifestyle of traveling after I signed with FORD out of Chicago, it has been a very gradual way to adjust to this lifestyle. Nonetheless, words can’t express my gratitude that I have one of my best friends to do it with! I truly feel God has put me in this position for a reason, and I hope to let His light shine. Follow me on Twitter at MariaKY09 or the Facebook Fan page called ‘Modeled By Maria’ and I’ll keep you posted on heading from Miami to Chicago tomorrow morning, castings and jobs in Miami, crazy stories of Ashley and I, and about my schedules for Milwaukee. Plus, assuming I actually get to go to the Miss KY USA pageant, I’ll keep you posted on how that is going!
So, every since Big Blue Madness, my life has been Madness!!! To my understanding, the modeling and acting industry usually slows down during the winter months, but it hasn’t kicked in yet!
Just the other day I was asked to drive to Nashville for a casting to be a ‘CMA Trophy girl.’ I was so excited for this opportunity and decided to at least give it a shot. This fell on the same day my best friend Ashley Durham was coming to visit from TN in order to be closer to Cincinnati for a meeting with a modeling agency. Regardless of how ironic it was, when she came up from TN, I drove down to TN and she drove the Cincinnati. After we both came back to my house that night and had a fun night together that included a midnight run to Walmart to fix a serious Halloween Oreo craving, the next day we switched positions and she drove South and I drove North. I was going to the Windy City to stay with my family near Chicago in order to be ready for the a shoot for Sears the next day.
The following Monday I was asked to come to Walnut Hill Elementary, in Liberty Kentucky, to be the opening speaker of Red Ribbon Week; a week devoted to teaching kids the importance of staying off drugs. It’s important to teach kids about these factors early on for prevention. It’s easier to get their attention when their younger instead. After I spoke during their assembly in the gym, I allowed questions. Although many related to my work and time as Miss KY USA, some questions were pretty funny such as ‘how tall are you’ or ‘how do you stay so skinny?” I couldn’t help but laugh at the kids’ adorable comments that their minds don’t yet filter while speaking in front of a large group of people
During my drive up, I was notified from the booker of Advantage Model and Talent of Nashville who sent me to the CMA casting. It said I got the job!!! I tried my best to contain my excitement while doing a little ‘happy dance’ behind the wheel. This was one of the castings I was most excited about compared to many others. This job will include me being on the stage during the telecast of the CMAs from Nashville, TN. I am responsible for bringing the trophies to the announcers of the winners of each award. I immediately asked Tony Bowls if I could get a gown to wear since I wanted to keep up with the fashion of the red carpet! Although Tony was more than willing to be a part of this and so excited for me, it turns out the producers have already decided to use a store in Nashville to dress the other ‘trophy girl’ and I. It feels kinda strange calling myself a ‘trophy girl’…. I have been trying to use the term ‘trophy presenter’ when people ask, but I don’t want to make it sound like I’ll be the one speaking during the show!! That will be Carrie Underwood and Brad Paisley (who I’m super excited to meet!!!)
The singers of Rascall Flats, one of my favorite groups, along with countless other stars are some of the other people I’m hoping to get to speak to either at dress rehearsals or during the show’s events. Although I was able to meet Joey during the derby and I know his wife through her work with the Miss Tennessee USA pageant, I’m still hoping for another chance to speak to them again. I’m also thrilled that I’ll be in the audience during the live performances by Taylor Swift, Jason Aldean, Miranda Lambert, and Blake Shelton. This is truly a blessing that I’m getting this chance at just the right time since our very own Eddie Montgomery of Montgomery Gentry will also be present at the award show. Although this is by no means his first appearance on the show, I’m thrilled that I’ll be there for his nomination since we’re both from the same small county in Central Kentucky. Please go online and participate in the fan vote for Montgomery Gentry for the duo of the year. Eddie’s catchy musical talents I feel alone make the group worthy of the nomination, but after a year battleing cancer and a divorce within the same month, I think this award would truly be special for him and Troy.You can vote at cmaawards.com.cmaworld.com/nominees and scroll down to vote for Montgomery Gentry as the duo of the year.
On the 30th, I had the incredible opportunity to be part of a photo shoot for a new magazine that you should be on the shelves in the next few months. This magazine is called Unbridled Magazine. It is going to be the first Lexington based fashion magazine. The shoot took place at Keeneland with an incredible group of photographers, Mickey and Tom from Mickey’s salon for hair and makeup, and sweet models. This magaizne will feature fashion from the Bluegrass area. I wore outfits from Stephen Lawrence at Apre Vous and dresses from Bella Rose which are two of the best boutiques in Lexington. This shoot was especially fun because the two owners of the magazine, Kevin and Skip, requested me to give any input I have for suggestions about how to best put the magazine together since they are relatively new at the fashion scene in Lexington.
The next day, I spent my Halloween night flying to Little Rock, Arkansas to be part of a photo shoot for Tony Bowls. This time, although the models were wearing his epic evening gowns, there was a little something extra added that is a brand new addition to Tony’s Collection. He has recently added fashion-forward jewelry and shoes to his lines, but he has never designed the items we shot yesterday for his collection before…. but I can’t say too much! Stay tuned to find out how he is expanding his God given gift of designing to a reach a broader market soon! These shots were taken in the studio of Jason Masters along with other ‘on location’ shots across Little Rock. One of the best locations included shots in a large, open field…. I better stop before I say too much! Little Rock is a perfect location to find just these types of atmospheres which serve as perfect backdrops for the shots. After the shoot was wrapped, Ana Rodriquez (Miss TX USA ’11/Miss USA 3rd Runner-Up), Ashley Durham (Miss TN USA ’11/Miss USA 1st Runner-up) and I headed out to head our separate ways home. I’ll keep you updated as these photos are released. Also, keep you eyes out for magazines such as Seventeen magazine and others that are geared towards young girls during prom season for some of the shots of Tony’s gowns we’ve taken this summer and fall.
I couldn’t help but to allow the cold-chills to rise on my arms and a huge grin glow from ear to ear Friday night as the lights went down, the spotlights shined brightly, and the music blared to start Big Blue Madness 2011. I was feeling the theme of this year’s madness production; “The Kentucky Effect.” I recognized this familiar ‘effect’ from how I felt when I used to come to the games as a little girl with my dad. Even back then, one of my favorite parts of the game was the very beginning. I loved the dramatic opening. I also loved the sea of blue that filled each Rupp Arena. Back then and still today, I admire how Kentucky basketball brings such a huge group of complete strangers together as one. Fans at Big Blue Madness proved that it’s not just basketball, but a lifestyle that runs deep in the blood of every fan.
To no surprise, the multiple national championship winning Cheerleading team blew the crowd away with an extremely difficult routine to start Madness excitement. Then, the moment we had all been waiting for finally arrived… the team introductions! Having each player announced while their name and photos projected on the larger than life screen was an incredible way to recognize each person individually. It was nice that for a minute, we got to witness the true personalities of the students. I also considered the feeling of new freshman who may not have realized what basketball in Rupp Arena was like. I could imagine their shaky knees and nervous voices they may have felt when coming out from behind the stage curtains. It appeared that each player chose his or her own music and many had choreographed dances for the stage. One that wasn’t afraid to ‘shake it’ during his time in the spotlight was Polson. Since he seemed to be a very sweet, quiet guy the day before when I met him during our interview, this completely took me by surprise!
After the women basketball players were introduced, the lights throughout the arena shut off in a quick flash. My first thought was that a fuse was blown. However, as a single spotlight flashed back on the stage, it was evident that this was all a plan of the man in the sparkly black jacket and silver sparkling socks –Coach Matthew Mitchell. Many may have thought that his performance from last year may be hard to top. With a combination of Michael Jackson’s Thriller and a redo of the dance that made him famous (“The Duggie”), this year’s dance surely was even more memorable. From interviewing Coach Mitchell a year ago at Eddie Montgomery’s steak house, I learned he was an extremely admirable guy with morals and values. After Madness night, I also learned that he hasn’t let his passion and skills of performing to be suppressed1 Matthew Mitchell is a perfect representation of how Kentuckians have hospitable hearts, but also never turn down a good ‘ole time!
Each year, Kentucky never fails to have a team overflowing with talent. However, since Larry has been bringing me along to meet the players so I can contribute to vaughtsviews.com and modeledbymaria.com, I’ve learned the teams also have a certain personality shared amongst the players. In previous years, I considered the UK boys Basketball team to be comprised of “tough” players. Last year, I thought it was comprised of goofy players (as was made obvious by Cousin’s entrance on Media Day 2010 when he broke the silence with hilarious bird-like noises J). After meeting the players at Media Day this year, I feel the team’s shared personality is one of a humble heart and approachability. That statement isn’t to undermine their basketball abilities or their attitudes during the game. I think Coach Cal put it appropriately by saying that this team is “hungry and humble.” For example, Darius Miller took the time to thank all attendees at Madness for sticking with them through the thick and thin. I’m thrilled that this humble attitude is being noticed by many people around the team. To me, having a class-act team is just as important as having a national championship team. Not only do the boys appear as that class act, but they also appear to possess a desire for fashion! You’ll have to check out the interview with Harrow’s to see what I mean by his cheetah print shoes with dog-bone ties! Only someone like him could ever pull them off!
Recently, I have been traveling as needed for modeling/acting. Through speaking with locals of the cities I work in, I learn that the “Kentucky Effect” doesn’t stop at the Ohio River or the state line of Tennessee. This “effect” was displayed on a NYC street where a blue and white UK flag flew proudly outside of a locally ran restaurant. Also, just the other day when I was working in Milwaukee, I spoke with a coworker from Florida who attended UK basketball camp as a high school player. He explained his hopes were to one day play for the legendary wildcats. It is evident that part of the draw to UK may be related to the number of National Championship banners hanging from Rupp Arena’s ceiling. However, the draw to be a part of the Big Blue Nation goes deeper than that. UK is so appealing because of what Coach Cal calls having a “player’s first” mentality. Even though UK is serious about basketball, they are also are serious at developing boys into men. An average team GPA of 3.0 and the success of players such as Krebs who has gone on to write his own book, are prime examples of how these boys are trained to do much more in life than play ball. I’m proud to be associated with an organization that understands the importance of developing the players as people rather than just mechanical beings to win games.
Throughout my experience during this year’s media day and previous media day interviews, one of my favorite subjects to ask the players about is KY fans. Each year the team is made of players from all across the country, so I feel they have ample amount of material to judge the different characteristics of fans. Without my probing, the love and support from the fans is mentioned in almost every player’s interview. It is also evident in the cheers the spread like wild fire throughout Rupp arena shouting “Blue, White,” or my favorite, “Oh… C-A-T-S- Cats Cats Cats!”
As Boyle County’s own Eddie Montgomery of Montgomery Gentry walked across the stage as the special guest coach in his KY blue cowboy hat, I couldn’t help but to think of his song ‘Something to be Proud of.’ Win or lose, I consider this song as a perfect theme song of the heart and soul behind Kentucky athletics. I personally am so proud of Kentucky athletics and who we are as Kentuckians, that I make an attempt to wear UK printed clothing and to let anyone around hear my southern accent as I travel. This is only because we truly do have ‘something to be proud of!’ I enjoy the challenge of proving negative stereotypes of Kentuckians wrong, while also proving stereotypes of southern hospitality right! We are held to a different standard which I consider to be a blessing in itself. I also enjoy standing up for my cats during friendly arguments between one of my best friends who is a serious fan and student of the University of Memphis (Ashley Durham, who you may have saw as Miss TN USA and 1st runner-up in this year’s Miss USA pageant!). Thank you to the athletes at UK who have helped to establish a positive name that stretches far past a scoreboard for all Kentuckians. Thank you also to Coach Cal, Coach Mitchell, and everyone of UK Athletics for not forgetting the importance of having not only a winning team, but a team with winning hearts and minds. It is because of you that Kentucky fans will always ‘bleed blue’ and stay true to who we are as Kentuckians. Go cats!
On Friday I had the pleasure of tagging along with Larry Vaught and Gary Moyers to UK Media day. This day is devoted to media coverage for the upcoming University of Kentucky football season. I had previously attended UK Media Day for the basketball season a couple years back. That is also when I had the opportunity to get some photos with Patrick Patterson, Demarcus Cousins, and etc. after getting great interviews as well. Some videos of those interviews can be found here on my blog, youtube, or Vaughtsviews.com. The purpose of my attending Media Day is to capture unique interviews which spark atypical responses. I don’t always ask the common, overly asked questions. My interviews are mostly centered around capturing the players’ and coachs’ true personalities with funny, random questions. In the words of Larry Vaught, the respected sports commentator, “Maria conducts the interviews so the players will talk to us.” I am getting more and more comfortable with interviewing the players and coaches each time.
After the Media Day business was taken care of, I changed into my new UK football jersey for a photo shoot with Zack Delp of Delp Photography. The photo from the UK themed photo shoot are to be used for the upcoming football season. I haven’t received the photos back to post yet, but I think one particular one may be my favorite and couple possibly be a new background for modeledbymaria.com! Keep checking, they’ll ne here soon!
The weekend only got busier as I was asked to head to Nashville Friday evening to begin shooting a music video for the artist named Dustin Tavella. Dustin is a very talented, HILARIOUS, up and coming singer. Look him up on youtube; you won’t be disappointed! He is the creator of the dance ‘swat’ which I have a feeling may replace the ‘duggie’ and the ‘cha-cha-slide.’ The song we recorded was called ‘Forget About Me.’ I was honored to have the position of the girl who is choosing between 2 guys. My main ‘boyfriend’ in the video is none other than Ben Davies who you can catch in the movie called Courageous which hits theatres in September. The video was directed by Roman Dent. This was my first time acting very cuddly and flirty on camera. However, the incredible crew and my wonderful agent/makeup artist Nise Davies, made the job so much easier. I think this was harder than acting in the Josh Groban video because I knew Ben before the shoot. But that’s what acting is about. I just hope my bf can separate acting and real life
In a behind the scenes interview about Dustin, I spontaneously described these 3 guys as being similar to a recipe. Dustin is the spice because he is just very unpredictable and Ben is the honey because he is the hunk of the group. Roman is the bread who is the solid professional, who’s also incredibly sweet, but holds the entire group together. Upon Dustin pointing out that my ingredients didn’t equal any particular recipe, I decided to add the camera as the peanut-butter. Without the peanut butter, there is no sandwich and no final product…. random… I know. Again, it was a spontaneous analogy Anyhow, working with these guys and the rest of Christian focused crew reminded me again that it is possible to have morals and values in the entertainment industry. It was all in all a hilarious, fun, and rewarding weekend. I’ll keep you updated with the releases and more!
As of now, i just arrived in Texas as prom/pageant market season is starting. This week is Dallas market, then I fly with the girls to Atlanta for another market next week. I’m looking forward to my third season working with Tony Bowls. This one has a new twist. We’ll also be modeling shoes as now Tony is designing for Frederico Leone! They are awesome, sassy, and fun!
For 4 days last week I filmed a commercial for a store called Bon Ton. Bon Ton is a major store that carries the most fashionable brands such as Jessica Simpson, Michael Kors, and etc. You may know Bon Ton by the name of “Carsons.” The commercial was booked through my Ford – Chicago, Models (my Chicago agency) and was also recorded in various touristy locations in downtown Chicago. Tuesday morning, (and I do mean morning, having to wake up at 5 am), I flew into Chicago for my fitting. During the fitting I tried on various clothes as the stylists made sure every look was put together perfectly with the best accessories and shoes. There was also a seamstress on board who pinned my clothes as needed in order to fit them to look their best. After my fitting I was released to spend my time as I’d like. Naturally, I decided to go straight to the gorgeous downtown hotel that they booked and nap! I felt much better after my nap, but little did I know the next two days of filming would include getting up again at 5 am to be picked up from the hotel at 5:15. This seems very strenuous, and by the end of the week I was feeling the strain. However, it honestly wasn’t too bad because the crew was so light hearted and upbeat. Additionally, the always had food ready for us including a huge breakfast. Any of you that know me well, know that I’ll do about anything for a good breakfast – my favorite part of the day.
The crew was incredibly prepared and professional so each shot only took very little time. The first day I had 5 different outfits to model, and the second day I had four. The last day I had one full outfit as well as shoes to model. It was my first time modeling shoes, and it wasn’t near as easy as I would have imagined. Apparently I can’t tell when my feet are pointing straight or not . The production company had every move of the recording planned down to each second. There was a schedule printed with the pre-decided locations, an inspiration photo, a photo of the actual location, and a photo of me wearing the clothing at the fitting. To the side, there were notes about how my hair should be styled. The crew consisted of a videographer, about 6 men to do lighting and set up, a director who guided each model, hair and makeup artists, Matt who kept everything on schedule, and Barb from Bon Ton who is an incredibly classy lady very similar to Michelle Obama. I was astonished upon seeing the time and effort put into this shoot before the models had even arrived!
Although there was a director, the models were still able to ‘ad lib’ as they thought appropriate which always makes for a more natural shot. For example, after filming my flowing skirt outfit on the steps of the Contemporary Art Museum downtown, the cameras were turned off and I left the set by walking down the steps. Bard liked the way the skirt flowed as I bounced down the steps because I was in a silly mood. Therefore, she asked me to do it again, but this time with the cameras on. One of my favorite, but most difficult shots was when I was walking a Great Dane while wearing a red dress and heels. This dog was awesome! He was incredibly, incredibly strong. The very first take was something that should be submitted to a funny blooper show. As I was pulled along by the dog, I passed the thin area between a light pole and the ‘extras’which required trying to guide Bo, the Great Dane, to scoot over and make more room for me to pass. When I walk my cocker spaniel at home, I just have to walk slightly right or left and Cali follows. Bo didn’t react in such a way. It was more like trying to push over a brick wall! As I attempted to fit in the tight space, I wobbled on my heels beside Bo while Bo’s owner who was out of the scene but in front of us was backing up too quickly and tumbled completely over the light post causing him to fall to the ground and do what appeared to be a backwards somersault. Another take included Bo twisting his leash around the light post as I tried to steer him straight. I’m curious to see how that part of the final commercial comes out. I have a feeling they will opt to use the film of me walking the smaller, gray, Great Dane. Hopefully there wasn’t slobber on my dress in that take! Another funny take was when I was pretending to hail a taxi. In real life, my past record of success hailing taxis is not good. However, despite the huge camera, camera crew, and even the guy holding the umbrella over my head, taxis wouldn’t stop coming to the curb. The point was for me to wave down the taxis; we didn’t necessarily want me getting in one. Even though the taxi drivers may not have realized what was up, the people on the street did and therefore a crowd formed which caused people to ask the make-up artists ‘if they know me.’ They thought I was someone famous. Ha! I eventually tried to let the hair and makeup artist allow me hold the umbrella over my head myself as I am just not into the ‘high-maintenance’ appearance that having someone hold it for me was giving off. Maybe that’s just the Kentucky girl in me, but I didn’t mind holding it myself.
Although I have shot a few commercials for dress stores and etc., I learned a lot about the time that goes into commercials to get the desired, professional final production. A commercial is so quick with each section passing by in a matter or seconds so it’s easy to underestimate the effort behind each shot. I will never look at commercials the same now that I’ve experienced sitting on one set for an hour as the crew adjusted the lighting and objects in the background to get the set-up to appear just they way they wanted it. I also have been reminded how much I love acting. I just appreciate the ability to add personality to my work. I suppose it in a way reminds me of pageants. After other models said they could tell I have some acting experience and have taken lessons, I’m thinking God may be leading me toward acting for a reason. Hmm…. Maybe this is something I should really focus on Regardless, I’m looking forward to hopefully working with Bon Ton again soon. I was asked to come up this next week for a catalog shoot, but due to it being my last week to babysit the kids, I’ve decided to take a full week at home in order to be there for them.
I considered not including this next story in the blog because this post is getting pretty lengthy. However, since if I was ever in a pageant again and was asked about my most embarrassing moment, this would be it! During one of the nights after I got off work from the commercial, I decided to go to the hotel’s gym. I had just got back from Whole Foods which is one of my most favorite places (I know, I’m such a dork!) and was heading back up to the room. However, when I got on the elevator, the doors shut as I noticed the button for my floor wasn’t lighting up after I pushed it. I tried to push it again, and it still failed to light. So, I tried several other floors because I really don’t like sitting in a still elevator and was eager to do anything to get moving. Still… nothing happened. So I decided to resort to the ‘open door’ button, which again didn’t bring any response. So, very unlike me, I freaked! I threw down my bag of dinner and tried with all my might to pry open the doors. After straining some muscles, I realized they weren’t budging. So, I went to my last resort of pushing the ‘help’ button. As I waited for a response the elevator beeped and showed the number of the current floor increasing although I couldn’t feel the motion of it at all. So, I thought it was going crazy! Finally, an extremely and overly calm man answered the phone, and said something like ‘what’s up,’ which I thought was strange for someone in a position to help people who are ready to have a heart attack like I was. Suddenly, as I shouting so he could hear me explain that I was stuck, the doors opened on the top floor to a private dinner. Apparently someone there had pushed the button. When I mean to the dinner, I don’t mean the elevators were around the corner from the formal affair. I mean the elevator doors are right smack dab directly in view of this ballroom filled with wine-and-diners. Regardless that I was in my workout clothes, I jumped off the elevator as quickly as I could, causing many heads to turn toward the random girl in sweats. Not only was I WAY underdressed, but I was still shouting at the man of the intercom so he could hear me convince him that I was okay now. Additionally, I was speaking with the man who was getting on the elevator who was trying to calm me down and tell me that it was ok and that I wasn’t stuck. Eventually he convinced me that it was okay and I decided to get back on as I was still shouting at the man on the intercom, and rode down with the comforting employee of the hotel. Apparently, the people at the front desk aren’t kidding when they tell you that you must slide your key before activating the elevator. Maybe that’s why the ’help’ man was so calm, he must get those calls all the time.