Name: Shawana Vickers
Claim to Fame: Shawana was a winner of the Miss Big and Beautiful pageant. She also appeared in this year’s CurvyNoire fashion week presentation.
Models are constantly told that they have to move to make their career happen. No matter what their ties are in other places it is expected that those who are serious about their careers will migrate to another city for a chance at succeeding on another scale. Shawana Vickers refused to accept that. She told Hello Beautiful how she did her own research to find opportunities to excel in her area without sacrificing her family’s stability.
She entered a local pageant as a way to establish herself in the field, as many other hopefuls had done before her. “I was the winner of Miss Big and Beautiful pageant in Orlando, Florida,” said Vickers.
Winning the pageant led to her first modeling job. “I was invited to do a gig locally for Ashley Stewart in Florida, and so from there I actually started my own modeling troupe and organization called More Than Enough, which encouraged women to love themselves.”
After learning that she could get modeling jobs on her own locally that gave her a chance to express herself as a person and not just someone’s mother, or someone’s employee, she wanted to share that experience with other women.
“Although they may not have been able to go modeling full-time or been able to go to New York we put together shows that displayed confidence,” she continued.
“I am a little bit older than when an average modeling career takes place. I have a 17 year old son. It’s always been about encouraging other women it’s never been about ‘Oh look at me I’m beautiful.’ It’s always been about ‘Hey look at my confidence, you’re beautiful too.’”
Vickers worked with local designers, organizers, and boutique owners including One Curvy Boutique’s Chante Burkett, to build relationships and find opportunities on her own terms. “I’ve never really gone the agency route. At the time I was a single mom and I just felt that my modeling career was more than just looking at the pictures, it was a way to build confidence to other women. I’ve kind of been in the game a little while and I’m okay with not necessarily having international quote un quote ‘fame’. I’m comfortable with encouraging and showcasing. I’ve built a platform, thank God, just being in the game and being able to encourage other people.”
Vickers believes that more models should consider the approach of building their careers in their cities as opposed to seeking instant fame in larger markets. “You definitely have to search and do your knowledge and actually do the work. I think a lot of people want to be nationally known and internationally known and globally famous. I think you have to have a different appreciation when you build from the ground up.”
She advocated for thinking about what you have to offer a brand that is different from the girls they see at castings everyday in other cities. “There’s this thing with one hit wonders and overnight fame with our generation and I think even for models. Do your local work and build up and learn more about those brands it’s all about brand representation.”
“I’m definitely appreciative of all the different shows I’ve been apart of,” said Vickers who pursed her career from “kind of the medium size country,” of Ocala, Florida. Those shows include the CurvyNoire presentation MadameNoire worked on with Maui Bigelow during New York Fashion Week.
She described the experience backstage waiting to show off the garments designed to adorn their curvy bodies as, “totally positive, it was uplifting.” She entered the model search for the show because, “It was a chance for me to show my confidence and tell my story through my runway walk.”
That story was told to the other models backstage where the women chatted before strapping on their heels to stomp the catwalk in the show.
“We were encouraging each other, motivating each other, so it was a very good vibe to be around other women that are able to compliment you and drive you to another level. I wanted to be apart of something that celebrated curvy Black girls that are positive, that are confident, and that the world can view as something more than just what society thinks should be on a runway or in social media.”