Agency: Major Model Management
Claim to Fame: If you’ve ever considered picking up one of e.l.f.’s pore refining glam glitter masks this is the pretty face that’s been staring back at you from the ads.
Bri Findlay’s modeling career started in a hallway. Rushing between classes at the Fashion Institute of Technology Findlay had a brush with “destiny” when an instructor at the institute suggested that she consider modeling. In an exclusive interview with Hello Beautiful, Findlay explained working with other models to gain valuable information about the industry and how a quick tap on the shoulder completely changed the course of her career.
“It wasn’t even my professor. He just saw me in the hallway and was like, ‘do you model?’,” she said. The 5’10” design student said that the moment felt like “destiny,” as it opened her up to a slew of industry insiders who all seemed eager to help her get started. “It just seemed like one person after the other kind of introduced me to the next person and I ended up getting signed.”
Signing to one of the most prestigious agencies in the business signified a clear route to overnight success for Findlay. She immediately became consumed with thoughts of all of the amazing opportunities that she just knew were already on their way. To her surprise though getting signed was just the first feat on the path.
“Things got a little rocky after that,” she said. “It’s not always a straight shot.” She continued, “I thought that things would be easy. I thought I would be taken care of. I thought I would have direction. I thought that whatever agent that I got would basically help and take care of me.” Assumptions were all she had to go on because unlike more traditional careers like law and medicine there was no handbook on how to conduct yourself as a model.
She explained that instead of being lavished with the support of an attentive team focused on nothing but getting her to the top she was placed in a position to learn about the realities of how much work it took to move up in the modeling industry.
Soon she was left to figure out the dynamics of the business completely on her own after experiencing a routine occurrence many models experience but few discuss openly…being dropped.
Fortunately, Findlay was no stranger to hustle. Her journey to FIT has included plenty of it. Before she began filling her tote with sketchpads and notebooks to capture the constant stream of ideas she has on photoshoot sets, the Flatbush native clawed her way to getting a proper secondary education. She researched the best schools available to her that prioritized the arts and auditioned for several schools to make sure she had a place. “There’s not a lot of high schools that even have that in New York,” she said. She portrayed the stiff competition as “American Idol but for drawing, if they really liked you then you got accepted to the school.”
She stayed committed because she knew there were no alternatives for her, she had to be able to express herself for a living. “It wasn’t something I could put down. It wasn’t something that was gonna leave me. Design and creativity all of that is a part of my personality.”
She took the same “no plan B” approach she took to finding a high school and applied it to finding a new agency being proactive about moving forward.
“You have to be really resourceful on your own and you have to keep pushing yourself because at the end of the day these agencies are managing hundreds of other models at the same time. What I realize is often times they don’t even have enough time to get around to every girl. So, it’s essential to take notes and learn as much as you can and ask questions of other models and really just build your knowledge on the industry, so you just have that extra knowledge in your back pocket.”
“I did get dropped a year ago,” she admitted. “But then I resigned to Major,” she added proudly. The experience taught her that the only way she was going to get ahead was if she tapped into her ability to advocate for herself and expanded her circle so that she could learn from others.
She turned not only to the professor who scouted her, she describes him as “still very much present” in her life but to other models who might have had similar experiences.
While a lack of perceived support left her feeling “out of place an uncomfortable” around the other models initially she pushed past that feeling and reached out to others. “Other people in the industry helped me, other models. We kind of formed a little coalition and helped each other out. We give each other advice and hope for the best.”
Today she’s continuing to immerse herself in all the ways one can be creative in the design industry and working towards building her own design business. She says modeling has significantly informed her work as an artist and being on set allows her “get how design works,” in a new way. After walking at Fashion Week in New York and Paris this year she feels confident about where her career is heading and excited about the future.
“Things are on the up and up now.”