Today we’d like to introduce you to Meredith VanCuyk.
Meredith, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
I’m Meredith VanCuyk, I’m 19, and I’m from Columbus, Ohio! Well I have quite a long story. I was a competitive champion Irish dancer my whole life at a top academy in the world. I did regular dance on and off, musical theater, and on dance teams as well, but Irish dancing was my main focus. On top of that I was busy with charity and missionary trips/work, and I had a waitress job on the weekends for about two years. I ended up breaking my hip and tearing cartilage and ligaments in it when I was 12, but continued training on it everyday for years. Eventually I couldn’t even walk, so I had to quit all activities and get hip surgery, and after that I couldn’t Irish dance anymore because of the intensity of it, and I had to sit out of regular dance/mission trips/dance teams/all other activities for about a year. In that time, I went to dance team practices every single day to sit and help coach the girls, went to every performance, and continued with charity work. When I was fully healed, I went back to dancing in musical theater, became the captain of the dance team, and went back to going on mission trips. When I was old enough to lead religious retreats, I helped put together and lead numerous retreats, and helped in the campus ministry office at my high school almost every day. On another note, thankfully I was able to go to the gym everyday to weight train to strengthen my body. Health is extremely important to me and something I value, and I believe that it is a huge privilege to be able to exercise and push your body, because I wasn’t able to for so long. It’s also a privilege to be able to decide what you put into your body, and eating with care is a form of respecting your body and being grateful for your resources. Anyways, because I went on so many mission trips, lead retreats, did loads of charity, and helped in the campus ministry office everyday, I knew it was quite obvious that I had a passion for helping people in any form I could. I planned on serving in the National Guard, but those plans fell through. But I was totally into anatomy (specifically neuroscience-I’d get books from the book store and read about the brain for fun), and I wanted to give nursing a go. I wanted to get into the direct admit program at a top nursing school, and I worked for months and months prepping for the interview process at the university by researching interview questions and writing pages of potential answers, doing fake interviews with several business people, and touching up my interview skills. I worked so hard to get into the program, and I got in! The end of my senior rolls around and I’m in a great place of leading retreats and focusing on the next chapter of my life. But in the back of my mind I’m thinking of wanting to try modeling. I mean, I’ve always been interested in it and I’m 6 feet tall so I figured I’d give it a try for the summer! Over the summer, I had a part time job at a lingerie store that I loved, and I worked in lots of photoshoots to start building a modeling portfolio. I submitted to local agencies, and I went in for a casting call with my now mother agency, Sigal Models and Talent. From that day on, everything in my life had changed dramatically and moved so fast. I signed with Sigal at the end of July, did a couple portfolio shoots with them, and immediately went to Chicago to meet with top agencies. I signed with Wilhelmina Models Chicago at the end of August, around the time my first semester of nursing school started. That was my only semester at college, and it went by so fast, but I loved it. I signed with Wilhelmina LA in late November, finished up with the semester, and drove out to LA at the beginning of January to continue my modeling life. I’m constantly busy and exploring California, and I think my favorite part of this is meeting so many photographers, models, clients, etc. from different backgrounds with different stories! I was always very awkward and shy, and interacting with so many people has completely changed my character-I’m loud and outgoing now, and before I used to hate social interaction but now I LOVE socializing! I’m also always looking for charity projects, and I had a blast at the most recent one I helped out with, The Care Brunch. We brought in essential items, and decorated and packed about 100 bags for the homeless. I’ve worked every single day on my career and to better myself physically and mentally. Along with staying busy with castings and jobs, I am shooting constantly with as many photographers I can to expand my book and get as much experience as possible. As a model, you learn movements/fluidity from EVERY photographer you shoot with. And as I said before, health is very important to me. I work out every day, I love to put what I eat in my Instagram stories, and I LOVE when people tell me they’ve tried my recipes or ask me questions about it. I’m always very open to people asking me questions, and I love answering questions about food, life, or modeling. I give the best advice and info I can, so if you have questions about anything feel free to ask! Anyways, I think the best thing I can tell anyone is that everything happens for a reason, and keep an open mind about the future. It’s insane to think about how far I’ve come and how much my life plans have changed. I’m now signed with six agencies across the nation and I think with such a big platform it’s important to voice what people need to hear. I focus on positivity, inspiration, and helping people. It all sounds cliché, but those are the most important things. At the end of this, all I can say is that it takes so much hard work and persistence. In the few short months I’ve been modeling, I’ve had the experience of a lifetime and I’ve turned into a completely different person than I was-I’m excited to see where the future will take me!
We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
It’s definitely not been a smooth road. Getting started as a new model is HARD. You’re stepping into a world where everyone is already in demand and seasoned, and it’s such a challenge to compete with experienced models. On top of that, everything is uncertain-you have no idea what will happen next. Some weeks I’m a busy bee, and some weeks I have nothing for modeling, which is difficult because I want to do as much for my career as possible by meeting and working with clients. That’s why I’m always going out of my way to reach out to photographers and get experience. This is my job, and normal work days are about 8 hours long, so I try to spend at least 6-8 hours a day working on modeling, whether that’s shooting, prepping, researching, etc. And living in LA is expensive! I came out here when I was 18 and just turned 19 and thankfully I have the resources to be here, but money is always in the back of my mind. On top of that, as a model you know you’ll have clients that won’t like you, and that’s okay! You have to stay positive and know that your world isn’t going to end if you don’t get one specific job.
We’d love to hear more about your business.
Well I’m my own brand. Being a model is a solo deal, so you work on yourself to work for yourself. The thing I love to do is shoot swimwear at the beach. I actually used to hate the beach, but I came to Cali and I loooove it now! My goal is to be in Sports Illustrated Swim and I know I’m so close to it. I think the thing I’m most proud of is shooting for a new Fenty lingerie line coming out. I’m so new and I just didn’t expect to be picked for Rihanna’s brand, and it’s still crazy to think about! I think I’m becoming known for my swim shoots, those are what I post the most of and my followers seem to love it and support it! I think what sets me apart from other models is that I have so much drive and I’m always working the hardest I can and looking for opportunities everyday. I’m so young and I’ve come so far in such a short amount of time because I make my job my priority.
What were you like growing up?
Growing up I was always awkward (still kinda am!). When I was little I was awkward and outgoing, then getting older I stayed awkward but grew into my shell. I had trouble socializing and felt uncomfortable when around other people and hated the idea of going to any event. But besides that, I was a dancer my whole life and I’ve always loved music and art, all that good creative stuff. I grew up in a very artsy creative family and I had an adventurous childhood of experiencing the world. When it comes to music, I listen to mostly rock, pop rock, punk rock-I love the instrumentals and rawness of it. I’ve seen so many artists in the past years, for a while I was seeing about 70 artists live per year! I think that live experiences are so much more valuable that tangible things. I’ve always been artistic, name any form of art and I’ve probably tried creating it, and museums are my favorite place besides music venues.
- Email: email@example.com
- Instagram: @meredith_vancuyk