It can seem like every up-and-coming model these days has a celebrity mom, dad, sister, brother, or cousin. You start to wonder if there’s anyone who’s working their way from the ground up, without a built-in fan base thanks to their famous fam.
Well, when I met Marisa Bryant, I found out that some girls are still out there working for it the good old-fashioned way. Marisa is a model who got her start managing herself on the west coast a few years ago, got discovered by a manager, moved to NYC and now works steadily as a model. She’s even walked for Alexander Wang.
She’s also part of the Galore fam and attended business school at the University of Las Vegas, plus about 900 other side hustles.
I talked to Marisa about the state of modeling today, her goals for the future, and her new year’s resolution. Scroll down for pics of her in the cutest fur of the season. And get to know her and follow her on Insta, because this Harlem resident is not going anywhere.
Who are your biggest modeling role models and why?
I don’t have any idols but I do love Gisele, Adriana Lima, Tyra Banks and Naomi Campbell. That’s just to name a few.
I look up to these fabulous women because they brought their own sense of style to a business that is constantly telling us what to be. Their walks are the definition of supermodel aesthetic. They are true chameleons and amazing business women who have created reputable careers along the way.
Modeling is so much more than getting photographed in clothes nowadays. What does being a model mean in 2016?
Being a model in 2016 can mean one of a million things. We have now intertwined the renowned supermodel aesthetic of the 80s and 90s with a new age of superstars, from celebrities to socialites to models of every size, shape and ethnicity.
I will say things have become much more diverse and different from the traditional modeling role people imagine. You can now be a influencer and model for companies and promote their brand or product, a runway model, or even a commercial/print model because maybe you’re 5’5″ but still freaking gorgeous and amazing and can score a makeup campaign.
There’s truly so much you can do within the industry today as a model. You just have to find your niche and how you want to portray yourself.
What do you say to people who think models are just a pretty face?
If you think models are just another pretty face, I disagree. A lot of people have an assumption of how models are supposed to act, talk and eat, but 10 out of 10 times your assumptions are wrong and no model is the same.
I crave longevity and to be a chameleon. I never want to be on the same thing. I constantly change and evolve because that’s what life’s about, learning every aspect of yourself and fulfilling your full potential. I went to school, I’ve had a lot of life experiences, and I know what I want in life. I’ve never been a woman without a plan of some sort.
What kinds of skills do models need to make it in the industry, in your opinion?
In modeling the number one skill you need is strength and I mean that in multiple ways. Not just strong physically, but mentally. That’s the most important thing . I’ve seen people in this industry go mentally insane and tear themselves down. At the end of the day you are your brand. Your opinion is the one that matters.
I think everyone should remember to be yourself and be comfortable with it. You would be surprised with how much of a relief it is. DO NOT compare yourself to others. Do not compare yourself to others! Your path will always be different so have faith. You shouldn’t worry about what you don’t have and what job you didn’t book, because everything happens when it’s supposed to. Your time could be at any moment, so be ready.
I think of you as Tyra 2.0 because of your attention to business. Tell us more about your side hustles.
Haha I love this Tyra 2.0 talk, I’m flattered. I graduated from an amazing business program and I’ve always been interested in fashion and entrepreneurship. I’ve had an amazing start here at Galore and getting a chance to express myself creatively and see the structure of an amazing media company. I’ve discovered things about myself and more about things I like to do within beauty and fashion behind the scenes. I hope to be a high-profile beauty editor one day.
What do you hope girls will feel when they look at your photos?
I’m always thinking about the hustle and how I can help further myself in my career. It’s been a journey here in NYC I’ve done everything from, working with an agency, a couple influencer agencies, a staffing company specifically for models and had various jobs, internships, and gigs, even some I’ve booked myself.
I’ve created merchandise and I also have a personal thrift shopping service coming in 2017. I’ve always loved styling and making my own clothes and putting together looks so I’m happy I’ll get to do that for other people. I’m always on the move and I have so much coming up in the future I’m excited about.
There are a lot of models coming out who make it on their social connections. Is that frustrating for someone like you who is doing it from the ground up on your own merit?
It’s not frustrating to me because at the end of the day no one can be you no matter if they have a million followers or not. I will say it’s an advantage because your seen more by the public eye but I don’t think a social following has anything to do with how talented you are or should be a determining factor on why you get a job.
Although I do understand marketing very well. These socialites are everyday people like me and you, and I respect them for turning a social media account into a career. Although I have lost jobs to girls who have bigger followings than me, I just stay positive and realize there will be another casting for another job that I will book the next time.
What do you hope people take away from your photos?
When people/girls look at my photos I want them to feel a connection. I don’t want to post photos that have no concept or mood. I’m a very emotional person and I hope to display that through my photos to others. I hope I inspire other young girls to want to model and show off their natural beauty and character.
What can people do to make sure models of color are being represented?
Models of color oh boy what a topic. I think people can do a better job of representing models of color by representing the correct cultures of where these quote on quote trends and fads are coming from. I love women in the industry who are speaking up on these issues like my dear friend Ashley Chew who created the #blackmodelsmatter hashtag. It’s spreading awareness to something really important and the subject always has my full support.
What’s your new year’s resolution?
Next year, I’m planning on participating in a lot of humanitarian and philanthropy work because I really feel I could help people and women all over the world. I just really want to find the right organizations to work with. I have a friend at United Nations who I’m talking to. The only thing I feel I didn’t do enough of in 2016 is helping others and giving back.
Adidas track jacket | Amelie Pichard shoes | Vintage coat and pants
Vintage coat | Vintage Gap jeans | American Apparel undies | SEE Eyewear glasses | Are You Am I top
Photography by Audrey Amelie Rudolf
Styling by Felicity Sargent
Makeup by Nichole Zurafleff
Hair by Clara Leopard