Written By: Leta Stevens
Photography By: @KarloGomez
I don’t think anyone would find it ironic that Erica, a corporate HR professional working on diversity and inclusion, was once a child bullied into the mindset of wanting to be invisible. Erica grew up going to a small private school. She was awkward and abnormally tall for a girl her age. Half-black and half-white with a full head of natural curls. Growing up, she adamantly tried to just fade into the background thanks to being bullied in school.
She’d considered trying the whole modeling thing, but as an extremely shy introvert, she knew she could model she was just too afraid. Last year, she finally took a leap of faith and went to a casting. At the same time, her father was ill in the hospital. In April of 2016, she received a call. THE call. She booked the casting! Her first every runway show, the Full-Figure Fashion Week in NYC. She was ecstatic. She desperately wanted to tell her father, but he was too weak and too ill to talk to.
On April 17th, Erica’s birthday, mere days after receiving the casting call, another life-changing event occurred. Erica’s father passed away. How could such a traumatic event happen so quickly after something so incredible? Erica’s world was shattered. Her life would never be the same.
Heartbroken and torn-to-pieces, she knew her father would be so proud of her chasing her dreams and pursuing modeling. Knowing this in her heart, she decided to still walk in the fashion show that June. Her father’s passing was a wake up call of sorts. It spurred her motivation to really put the effort in to make modeling happen for her and make the most out of the experience. She says, “Life is short, why hesitate?”
She still struggles with her father being gone. Tears flood when she speaks of him. But she now lives her life from a place of “just do it already” and it’s made all of the difference. It’s almost been a year now, and she is successfully modeling on the side, while juggling her full-time job and social life.
Erica has seen personal growth and increased confidence since she’s joined the modeling community. She feels so lucky to have entered the community in a time where Body Positivity is trending. The modeling community itself is such a positive influence in her life. Erica is constantly working on self-development and her own body confidence. Her inner voice can still be critical and there’s still self-doubt, but modeling has taught her to dress her body, it evolved her style, and made her appreciative of her shape.
Her life motto is “Do it afraid.” When she thinks about her future, she never wants to tell her daughter that she didn’t do something because she was scared. As Erica rightfully points out, there’s always fear when you do something with risk or when timing may seem off, but it’s important to do it despite with the fear.
She wants to inspire herself by taking risks, but she’s always looking at the bigger picture. Erica says what is really important is that she inspires others. There’s always a ripple effect with the impact that you can make on someone and if something bigger can come out of it that is what is important to her.