Sunday, 19 July 2015

Interview With Student Model Rebecca O'Brien

10410769_581378812004659_3091941704601875072_n.jpgRebecca O’Brien is a twenty year old UCC student who’s taking the modelling world by storm.
Originally from south Kilkenny the move from her family home to Cork city was tough and Becky admits it took time to  ‘adapt to the sounds of the moving traffic every night’ but since leaving her family home living two years ago she’s really settled into the city life and is loving every minute  ‘I really love the sense of freedom and independence I have there now’.

Although she’s currently in Madrid Au-pairing for the summer she’s flying back home in August and back to Cork for her third year studying Biological sciences and although the course is very demanding Becky’s adjusting to the college life really well  ‘I'm absolutely loving college life, and by college life I don't mean drinking every night of the week, missing lectures and living on beans and toast!.’

Becky is signed to one of the top model agencies in the country ‘Prima’ and has worked professional with them since she was eighteen years old. When she realised a career as a model was for her Becky went straight to her parents for help when she stumbled upon Prima and the rest is history, ‘I went straight to my mam and dad- firstly for their permission, and secondly for their help! I was sixteen at the time, relatively lacking in self confidence and still very dependent on my parents. There wasn't any past experience in my family so it was all very new to us. They came across Prima through their website and thought it would be a good place to start seen as they were locally based (in Waterford City) and so wouldn't be as daunting as the larger Dublin based ones’
With the whole idea of modelling new to Becky she didn’t know what to expect when it came to the selection process but after attending an open day she was picked up immediately, ‘It was a 5 minute interview after filling out an application form and a short walk up and down the room. I didn't have a clue what I was doing, but they saw some potential behind my 'greenness' and invited me back to attend their Modeling Masterclass. A full day spent focusing on topics like confidence, body image, hair and skin care, and qualities needed when dealing with clients.
I attended several more training days over the course of around 18 months, and after hours spent practicing the walk up and down my landing and different poses in my bedroom mirror, they told me I was finally 'ramp-ready'! I did my first paid job with Prima when I was eighteen and it's gone from there. It's been great in that nothing has ever felt forced or rushed and it was allowed to just happen itself. I avoided building up any expectations or outcomes for myself, and always made sure to stay modest and thankful for the opportunity’’

Being a model is a dream come true for this talented young lady but it wasn’t something she had planned growing up with three brothers and being the tom boy as she explains how it just happened for her with her 5’10 frame being an advantage, ‘’Having three brothers growing up I was a complete tomboy, and never had much interest in clothes, makeup, girly magazines or painting my nails, which were normally full of dirt instead! It was one of those things that always got asked by family friends 'Has she given modeling a go?' simply because of my height and ideality to be described as a twiggy lank but being a model is so much more than just having the stereotypical tall, slim frame.’’

10264971_403898983085977_8312587487283387948_n.jpgBeing a model is a dream for so many young girls and Becky explains how important it is to keep your eyes open and be realistic about every job you take on, ‘’Modeling is admittedly many a young girl's dream, there's just something so glamorously appealing about it. But with every dream there are opportunists ready and willing to take full advantage by blinding these girls with promises of becoming a top model instantly or getting the cover page of a mag 'just' for one risky shot.’’

Even though she’s extremely successful and hard working Becky refuses to put all her eggs in one basket and is grateful for every opportunity that comes her way and although she loves modelling at the end of the day it’s a bit of extra income, ‘’I think you'd have to be extremely successful to have that kind of disbelief at your own fortunes, and I am far from the standard or status of even comparing to Ireland's most in-demand models. Even when I'm on the ramp at a show, or on set at a shoot I don't feel like a model- I just feel like someone who's doing their job, and someone who wants to do a good one at that! A lot of the events with the other models in the agency just feel like a fun day out- they are seriously some of the most genuine, down to earth people I know, and you'd be surprised at how many jokes we crack ourselves about being #models and 'getting paid to look good' and all the rest! Right now modeling is just a great way for me to have fun working with loads of lovely, talented people. Of course it's a brilliant way to earn some extra money too- always a valued bonus when studying away from home!’’

The Irish modelling industry is extremely tough with young super beautiful women on the up rise, the likes of Nadia Forde, Thalia Heffernan, Holly Carpenter and Roz Purcell to name but a few but for Becky, these aren’t her competition, these are her inspirations, ‘’I see them as amazing role models- they epitomise strong, successful, influential figures in society who work extremely hard to be where they're at and remain at the top. I do think it's important to remember however that everybody is different and not to be hard on yourself. You can only be the best YOU can be, so I like to focus more on my own personal progress rather than comparing myself to others or wishing I was them.
I've never had any nasty experiences or gotten a sense of bitter competition from anyone, and that sense of empowerment is something that the Irish Modeling Industry should be very proud of’’

A models life is based on appearance and image but Becky’s just a regular student and encourages everyone to embrace their natural beauty ‘image is very important as a model, but more importantly your own image of yourself. I'm a big advocate of natural beauty and preach it at every chance I can! 90% of the time I'm not wearing a scrap of makeup and do not depend on it whatsoever- I
haven't even packed any coming to Madrid for the Summer. If you were to pass me on a normal day you would do just that- walk past! I'm just another student going about her day, and never feel any extra pressure as a model to go to any extreme lengths with my image. I much rather spending those extra minutes in bed every morning, plus I consider myself pretty hopeless and uninspiring when it comes to putting together stylish outfits (I'm not really sure where I draw the line between minimalism and laziness saying all this now!)’

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How does she keep that incredible figure you may ask? It’s all down to healthy eating and exercising ‘ I do make healthy choices when it comes to my weekly grocery shop and follow a relatively clean diet full of lots of natural foods like fruit, veg, nuts, seeds, chicken and fish- all the stuff you're used to hearing! I'm partial to the odd 'super food' shop in Here's Health on Patrick's Street too, with a Kg tub of Meridian peanut butter being a guaranteed purchase with every visit- that stuff is my kryptonite.
UCC students also have a free Mardyke gym membership and I take full advantage of this. I used to be a bit of a  cardio bunny, but in the last year started to incorporate weight/resistance training and home workouts into my routine and was really impressed with the changes I started to see. I had a really good habit going until the exams came around and study took up every free hour I had, but I can't wait to get back to Cork in August and get cracking again and finally I just take the 'active' option when faced with small decisions, like taking the stairs instead of the lift (not easy when you live on the third floor of your apartment block) and walking to town instead of taking the bus. It's the same things you'd always hear, but there's reason for it’’

Being a model as well as a college student has it’s added pressures but for Becky her education comes first as she quotes her father, ‘degree first’ but she also faces the obvious student struggles ‘there’s pressure coming from study, exams and getting to lectures without mam or dad there to drag you out of bed are the most obvious ones, but especially at this age there's also that extra looming pressure of being expected to have your whole life in order now that you've flown the coop and are considered an independent adult. It's very easy to quickly become overwhelmed by all this, but I've adapted a few day-to-day coping strategies into my routine which I really think help me to cope and keep stress at bay.
11083654_573139402828600_2455690817346997856_n.jpgI also recently began practicing some mindfulness with an app called Headspace which I find great for just allowing some time to process your own thoughts. I know myself that the worst wars are often fought in our own heads with ourselves, so this is a great way for me to make peace with my mind's way of thinking. I also make the weekly social sacrifice of deciding to stay in rather than going out drinking with friends. This is not an easy thing to do because alcohol seems to be such a social denominator in college, but for my own well being I'll avoid it whenever possible as I just don't feel it helps me get to where I want to be. If I 'have to go out' for a friend's birthday or class party I'll stay sober more often than not, but that's usually much harder than just staying in. (You'd be amazed at how many less spilt drinks, dancefloor foot stampings and attempted cheap feels you can put up with before just wanting to grab a taxi home!) In general I just prioritise a lot of my decision making based on what's beneficial for me both physically and mentally. Sure there may be a momentous feeling of missing out, but the fulfillment of working towards something bigger in the long run is definitely worth it all!’’

The future for this young lady seems nothing but bright but for Becky it’s the same as always ‘degree first’ then focussing on modelling.
‘’I like to set myself quite high goals so will be very focused on my studies once college starts up again, and would love to go on to do a postgraduate or masters as well (anything to stay in UCC!). In terms of modeling, I would love if it was something that continued as I got older, casually or otherwise. I entered the Miss Universe Cork pageant back in April and was placed in the top ten as well as being offered a contract with Lockdown Models, so hopefully in the next year I can work towards establishing myself with the agency and getting some work in Cork. I'm also considering entering another pageant next year, and it's a title that I would absolutely love to hold so we'll see how that goes. I'm always on the lookout for new experiences so you never know what I could throw myself into next, but for now I'm just going to be enjoying the Spanish sun and am really excited to see what opportunities the next year will bring’’

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