What’s cooler than being cool? Being Brie Handford. The fourth-year College student just signed to a modeling agency, adding another cool-girl credential to her long list of accomplishments.
This semester, Handford added meetings with agents, photographers and designers to her already busy schedule of classes and extracurriculars. From Indieheads, V Magazine and her new commitment to modeling, Handford’s creative endeavors have only continued to develop.
Handford said that she had never considered modeling before she began last summer, when a random encounter with a photographer kick-started her passion.
“[I started in] a kind of unconventional way,” Handford said. “I was just walking around [a downtown area] and one of the workers at one of the shops came out to me and tapped me on the shoulder.”
Handford said the individual introduced herself as Jeanie Bazan, a fashion major at Virginia Commonwealth University, and expressed interest in photographing Handford for a project.
While Handford said her first shoot with Bazan was a major catalyst to begin modeling, she also expressed some fears about it.
“I was really flattered, but also surprised because I didn't know how to pose,” Handford said. “I didn't know how to present myself in a way that would be pleasing to them.”
Despite these anxieties, Handford followed through with the shoot and has been modeling ever since, recently signing to the modeling agency Dash Talents. Handford was discovered by the agency after receiving a last-minute invitation to walk at RVA Fashion Week. A few days after being noticed by talent scouts at the show, she received a direct message on Instagram asking her if she would be interested in speaking with a modeling agent.
“It really just happened by chance, by luck and also by me saying yes to everything,” Handford said. “I think that's a big thing — when you have an opportunity, just saying yes and being open to whatever happens. [It’s not about] expecting money [or] any kind of direct reward. Just having fun with the experience is really important.”
Fashion is a major aspect of the modeling industry that drew Handford in. Working often with fashion majors and designers, Handford said she finds it interesting to watch the creative process of designers on set. While Handford enjoys wearing many of the pieces, she stressed that the purpose of being involved with fashion-oriented projects is to showcase the art of the designers.
“I think it's important to know that not everyone's style will be your style, so you might have to wear things that you might not like or that don't exactly go with what you wanted to wear,” Handford said. “You're just the rack for the pieces of clothing. It's all about the designers.”
While Handford has found her involvement in the craft to be rewarding, there is no denying that the job comes with challenges.
“It's not intentional at all, but just being surrounded by models and being surrounded by people who look amazing — stunning people who have been in the business for a long time — is intimidating, and it makes you doubt your own worth,” Handford said. “So I think that's a part [of modeling] but something I have to remember to accept.”
Despite the temptation to compare herself to others, Handford said she has had mostly positive experiences with other models, speaking highly of the community they create on sets. She also said that despite her initial intimidation of more experienced models, she found that they often experience similar feelings.
“You have a closer bond with whoever you're shooting with and your designer,” Handford said. “Once you start talking to them, it's like they're really just the same as you.”
With a year of experience under her belt and a newfound access to professional training from her agency, Handford said she has noticed differences in her technique since her first shoot, adding that she had just gotten off a call with an agent to help train her model walk.
“Being more familiar with my face and being more comfortable in my body in front of a camera [has helped a lot],” Handford said.
As a fourth-year College student, Handford is thinking about her future after graduation from the University. Because she had never considered modeling as a career path before, its newfound presence in her life throws new and unexplored opportunities and uncertainties alike her way.
“I'm an environmental science major, so I also want to focus on my studies,” Handford said. “Having [modeling] as an alternative lifestyle is very intriguing to me and just something I wouldn't want to pass up.”
Because Handford is foremostly focused on pursuing her academic interests in the future, she has also considered finding ways to combine her love of environmental science with her passion for modeling.
“I've been interested in doing broadcast meteorology, like TV presenting,” Handford said. “I have a feeling that having a background in modeling and being comfortable in front of a camera or being a recognizable face would help in that department.”
While Handford may not yet know exactly how modeling will tie into her future career aspirations, one thing is for certain — as of now, her passion for modeling is stronger than ever. From the creative photography shoots she’s done with V Magazine on Grounds to the professional shoots she’s done with photographers far and wide, her talent and radiant confidence is evident. Handford’s success as a model and status as a bonafide cool-girl is well-deserved.