Name: Gabby Fé
Agency: State Model Management
Claim To Fame: A TJ Maxx commercial kick started her career.
Standing 5 feet 8 inches Gabby Fé was used to hearing a common theme in comments about her appearance from her friends and family in Orlando, Florida. “When I was growing up people used to tell me like ‘Gabby you’re so pretty! You’re pretty and you’re tall. If you [would] only lose weight you can model but like you can’t, you know you can’t model the way you are.” In an exclusive interview with Hello Beautiful the sought-after model revealed how a surprise birthday present not only proved critics wrong but placed her on the cover of Plus Model Magazine.
“It’s kind of a crazy story,” replied Fé’ when asked how she ended up signing to State Model Management and representing brands like Amazon, TJ Maxx, and Dia & Co. “My older sibling, my older brother who never gives me a Christmas present or birthday present, he goes like ‘Your birthday’s coming up. What you do what for your birthday?’ I was like ‘Really? I just want a round trip ticket to New York City. I’ve never been to New York City. He’s like ‘Great I will pay for your plane ticket and that will be your birthday gift. I was like ‘Wow! I’m so shocked,’ and my mom decided to pay for my AirBnB so that was my birthday present came to New York.”
She appreciated her family’s generosity, but she never thought their gifts would lead to an address change. “I never thought anything of it I’m just like I’m just gonna go.”
She was partially inspired by Ashley Graham, who she recalls being the first plus size model she saw celebrated in the mainstream media. “When I was growing up, I never heard of plus-size modeling, so I came specifically to New York to see what it was about to see if I had a shot at it.” Even her mother was taken aback by all the attention Graham was getting. “My mom was like ‘Hey Gabby, this girl she’s curvy like you. You should check it out. So I started doing my research I discovered Plus Model Magazine and I started seeing curvy models.”
While on her birthday trip Fé, who had been singing since she was a child but was discouraged from trying modeling, decided to cold call modeling agencies in an effort to find her way to the spotlight. She described her shock at how quickly she succeeded.
“As I was here literally everything started falling into place everything started happening at once. I literally went on line submitted to the agencies.” Her submissions resulted in several interest meetings being scheduled but before she could attend any of them fate intervened.
“I got an email from like a random email saying there was a casting call for a TJ Maxx commercial,” she explained. Some might have written the message off as a scam but the then 22-year-old let optimism guide her. Shortly afterwards she was making the most of her impromptu vacation by meeting with the casting directors.
“They called me like 15 minutes later and they were like ‘You’re in New York City, we’re in New York City… do you want to come in for an in-person audition?”
The audition was a pretty routine process. She answered generic questions about herself and was dismissed with well wishes. Afterwards she returned home with her ambition in tow. “I just went back to my regular old life,” she explained.
She was surprised to receive a call back from the company who insisted that she fly out immediately to appear in the ad.
“I booked it. They flew me out to LA, in this beautiful penthouse suite. They had a driver and everything I felt like a celebrity or something. They gave me my own trailer. We were filming on Venice beach. It was so cool as my first experience.”
The luxury didn’t last long and when Fé wrapped the shoot she knew she wanted more.
“After I got that opportunity I was like ‘This is a sign I need to move to New York City’. So I took my earnings from the commercial and moved to New York city and from that point I signed with two different agencies and the rest is history.”
That history includes walking in shows at New York Fashion Week and leaving behind a part-time job at Forever 21 to spend days smizing on set. “I’ve working with a lot of different brands. It’s my full-time gig now.”
She still has side hustle. A lifelong lover of music she recently began releasing music often working with producers to perfect her sound in between modeling gigs.
“I’ve been singing my whole life since I was like 4 but I started getting into the recording studios maybe two years ago. I have some stuff up on Spotify and some music videos coming out this year.”
She says that her upcoming music reflects how her journey of self-acceptance has impacted her romantic life.
“I feel like it really comes down to me. I’ve always had guys who have been attracted to me, but I haven’t always been attracted to myself. I was always uncomfortable in my skin because there weren’t a lot of plus-size girls around me. I was always the biggest girl in my friend group and I was always the biggest girl in class so I felt uncomfortable. But now that I’ve kind of grown into my own I feel more comfortable with my body and the way I look. I can tell that the guys that I date enjoy my beauty and who I am as a person, so it’s helped me to just accept who I am, come out of my shell and enjoy being looked at and complimented. I can take compliments now you want to tell me a compliment I can appreciate that now back then I couldn’t.”
Her non-romantic relationships have evolved as well. Today her former critics are in awe of how she has expanded their view of what a ‘model’ looks like.
“I think it’s like a new world to them and they never saw anything like it before. They’re very supportive now they see the vision coming to life and they’re very supportive of it.”