Today we’d like to introduce you to Sharaun Brown.
Sharaun, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
My story began like everyone’s, at conception! I was born into a single-parent household with an amazing mother who took on the charge alone of giving me life and raising me into the woman that I am today. She became pregnant with me at a young age and would often sit in the closet and cry wondering how she was going to do it all alone. During one of those moments, she heard the voice of what she believed to be God and that voice told her to keep me and that there were great plans for me and my life. She was told that one day my name would be in lights, that I would do great things in this world and not to fear because we would be taken care of and never alone. My mom never forgot this experience and was sure to remind me of it every chance that she got! She reminisced on this moment often and told me about it repetitively over the years. She would use this story to remind me of who I was and instill value and self-worth in me when I needed it most. She would follow it up by affirming who I was and telling me that we were going to be ok. These stories helped her as she did what she could to give me the best life and this also instilled a great sense of humble confidence in me. It also helped me during the times that I was picked on, bullied and ridiculed in school for my small skinny frame, big eyes, long legs, and 5’10” stance.
Growing up without a father and with this amount of ridicule in school chipped away at my self-esteem but my mom was always there to build it back up. She would read me encouraging words daily and remind me of who I was. This confidence is what helped me to muster up the courage to audition for Americas Next Top Model at the age of 17. I went on to get discovered by Tyra Banks and made it as a finalist on the show. A show was exactly what it was as I soon realized that it wasn’t the modeling mentorship experience that I was hoping for. It was a reality television show and unfortunately, with that, things were edited and put together in a way that wasn’t a true reflection of who I really was. Many things were promoted behind the scenes and dramatized for views. In the end, I was eliminated and my career faced a big set back as agencies were not interested in working with me because of how I was falsely edited. I faced a great deal of public backlash across the world wide web and beyond but again it was my mother’s words, support, and encouragement that kept me going.
After months of trying to get an agency, getting turned down by 30+ agencies and a lot of money spent I eventually went on to sign Elite Model Management Chicago (now known as MP-Management). Two years after that, I moved to California where I am now represented by LA Models, Cesd Print, Cesd On camera LA & NY, MP-Management and Elite Model Management NYC. I’ve had the honor of walking in both New York Fashion Week, La fashion week, modeling for Macy’s, Marc Jacobs, Tommy Hilfiger, Diane Von Furstenburg, Betsy Johnson and so much more! I’ve represented Victoria’s Secrets on various outlets including on CBS’s The Crazy Ones where I also acted alongside Robin Williams, Sarah Michelle Geller and Adriana Lima. I’ve appeared in commercials for McDonald’s, Budlight Lime-a-Rita, DSW shoes, Gieco, and Mortons Salt just to name a few. Ulta beauty, Asics sportswear, DSW, and Acura are just a few brands that I’ve represented in ads across the world. My modeling career thus far has been nothing short of a dream come true but this is just beginning and there is so much more to come and so much more that I aspire to do!
Off-screen, I spend a great deal of time speaking around the world at various schools, conferences, and events on the topics of confidence, self-worth, identity and the importance of knowing who you are. I realized that it was the self-worth that my mother instilled in me that set me on a great path to self-realization, fulfillment, and success. It was knowing who I was that stopped me from engaging in certain activities that many teens fell victim to. It was the confidence that kept me going when everyone else told me no. Noticing that not everyone has that person in their life to guide them to their highest self I found my purpose in helping everyday people, teens, young adults, and aspiring models get there. It became my mission to help people reconnect with the soul of who they are and live confidently from that truth and I do so through my speaking, life coaching and mentoring. I also took these skills to Skid Row and developed a homeless outreach called Burgers and Bibles which is housed under my nonprofit ServeUp inc. It has been my goal to feed the mind, body, and spirits of those who find themselves homeless on skid row, help to rehabilitate them and push them into their destiny. In doing so, we have fed a countless number of homeless individuals and helped many rebuild their lives.
With over 8+ years of doing this, I have learned first-hand ways to be even more effective in my efforts and better help the community. In order to do so, we have taken a brief hiatus as we restructure our program to relaunch with a more effective platform designed specifically by the community we serve! I am excited to continue to flourish both on-screen and off-screen and help the world in the process! I am forever grateful for the platform that I’ve been given to do so and all that has been instilled in me over the years!
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 has not been a smooth road at all! However, the things that I once perceived as just unfair struggles were really the lessons that I needed to continue to rise and grow into my highest self. So, instead of speaking any further on those struggles that I faced, I would much rather speak about the lessons that I learned.
I learned that the only opinion that matters the most is the one that I have of my self. People will come and go and everyone will have opinions about who you are and what you should be doing. We can consider others point of view but it’s important to always honor our own first above all and make slight adjustments when necessary. I learned to befriend and trust my intuition because she always knows best and never leads me astray! Before making a decision, be sure to tune in and see what your intuition has to say. I learned the importance of connecting to who I am, finding and honoring my voice and loving my self. I learned that the most important relationship that you need to nurture and develop is the one that you have with yourself. You’re going to be spending the rest of your life with you, you better get to loving and respecting yourself. I learned that your dreams and goals are yours alone and not to be shared with just any and everyone. Not everyone will see your vision and understand, some will become envious and not everyone wants you to succeed.
As a steward of your vision, it is important to keep them close to you and only share when felt led to do so. As my mom would say, never let your left hand know what your right hand is doing. I learned that at the end of the day what is for me is for me and no one can take that away from me! I learned that no one holds the keys to my future and destiny but me and never to give that power away. I learned to trust the timing of the universe and not to rush things. The timing in which they happen is always perfect. I learned that I am powerful beyond measure and some times situations come to show me who I am and reintroduce me to myself. I learned that struggles come but never last forever.
At the moment, it seems like it may never end but if I can find the lesson in it and grow through it, I will come out stronger on the other side. I learned that struggling, and working to the point of exhaustion is not a prerequisite to success. Work smarter not harder, find balance and enjoy yourself in the process. Pulling an all-nighter doesn’t make you any more worthy of success than before and we can’t manipulate time. I learned the importance of healing not only for yourself but for your bloodline and that even though it’s hard to face hard truths and feel the emotions that come with hard times, you are actually changing your DNA. You are healing the past and healing the future. The list goes on and on but I hope that a few of those lessons that I’ve learned from my obstacles can help other people to find the lessons and revelations in theirs.
What do you do, what do you specialize in, what are you known for, etc. What are you most proud of? What sets you apart from others?
Just as my mother helped me, I have created a life and career around helping people reconnect with who they are and live confidently from that truth! I do so in a number of ways but primarily through my work as a Motivational Speaker, Mentor and Life coach. I have the honor of traveling around the world to various conferences, schools, and events inspiring people of all ages and speaking on an array of different topics! Many students, young adults, and aspiring models become apart of my coaching and mentorship program where I further help them develop their skills, rediscover themselves, build confidence and reach their dreams! I have also taken these skills to Skid Row in hopes of helping to rehabilitate the homeless on skid row and propel them into their destiny. In October of 2012, after coming face to face with the Los Angeles homeless epidemic, I launched Burgers and Bibles in hopes of feeding not only the body but also the minds and souls of those who have found themselves homeless on Skid Row. In 2017, we were awarded the “Best of LA” award for the best homeless outreach in Los Angeles!
Currently, we are working directly with the community to develop a program for them and by them, that continues these efforts in a more streamlined way. On-screen, I continue to model for various companies in ad campaigns, catalogs and on the runway. I can be spotted in Ulta Beauty stores around the world in my current campaign with the brand. I can also be seen representing a number of brands via commercials and television appearances. I am currently represented by LA Models, CESD, MP Management, and Elite Model Management NY. I am grateful to live the life of my dreams doing what I love. I recognize modeling as the platform I’ve been given to do so much more and I aspire to use my life to continue to make a difference in the lives of the people and world around me.
Do you feel like our city is a good place for businesses like yours? If someone was just starting out, would you recommend them starting out here? If not, what can our city do to improve?
I definitely feel like our city is a good place for a type of business like my own. Los Angeles is full of transplants from around the world who have come to pursue their dreams. Unfortunately, while on this path some fall into many dark places and get further away from themselves than they originally intended. That’s where I come in to help them peel back the layers and get back to themselves. Even better, at the start of their journey, I am there as a life coach and mentor to help them make decisions from their soul and create the lives they are destined to live. For young adults and students, I come into schools and events to foster more unity amongst their peers and create motivation to excel confidently in character and academia. For the few who find themselves homeless, I help to connect them with various services in the Los Angeles area and pick back up the pieces of their lives.
As with anything, darkness exists in the city however, it is also filled with so much light and various business to help find, nurture and develop the light within. I consider what I offer to be one of those businesses and recommend it to those who feel they need and would benefit from what I have to offer. There are a plethora of businesses and paths to help you in your evolution and you have to choose what is best for you. If you feel connected to me and what I have to offer definitely contact me! I strongly believe that our state and schools need to begin to budget more to bring these types of interactive speaking presentations into their schools. For those who have already done so or find room in their budget for it, I recommend myself and services. For individuals who want to be apart of a growing non-profit organization and volunteer their time to help further develop our homeless and youth communities, I strongly encourage you to contact me. For all of your inquiries, I can be reached via my website Sharaun.com.
As far as areas of improvement, our youth and future would benefit greatly if we put more money into our public school system and youth programs so that students whose families cannot afford to pay for private school can have access to the same level of education and quantity of resources. More resources also need to be placed toward mental health prevention and facilities. Many of the homeless on Skid Row suffer from various mental and physical disabilities and lack the proper resources to treat their conditions and facilities to house or assist them. Because of this many of them, self medicate which often makes matters worse. I challenge business around the Los Angeles area and the world to employ more physically and mentally disabled, challenged and homeless individuals. Those born into mental challenges deserve to make a living and life for themselves and strongly depend on business to take that step in employing them. These are causes that I currently fight for and will continue to do so.
- Website: Sharaun.com
- Email: Sharaunb@gmail.com
- Instagram: @Sharaunb
- Facebook: Brittney Sharaun
- Other: https://youtu.be/0lZ-CBORhK4
Kelly Segre, Getty images