I had the wonderful opportunity and great pleasure of sitting down with the nationally signed model, Meredith Vancuyk. Meredith is by far one of the most interesting success stories I have heard. She began modeling just over a year ago and she has booked countless jobs since. This is her story.
Brianna: Meredith, welcome. It is so nice to have you with us. You have had so many things happen in the last year, which is so exciting, I don’t know where to start. Can you talk about how you got started in the modeling industry?
Meredith: I started modeling last summer. I’ve always wanted to try it out and we had a family friend who was a photographer, so we did tons of shoots with her in tons of different looks. We put together a solid portfolio and resume and submitted to some local agencies in Columbus, Ohio. I was then called in for an open call at Sigal Models and Talent and was actually handed a contract that very day which never happen. I was signed as a curve model at the beginning of August 2017.
By the end of August, I was already traveling to Chicago to meet with agencies there and was offered a contract that same day from Wilhelmina Models, one of the top agencies in the world. From then I went through one semester of nursing school in Ohio and during that time I also signed with Wilhelmina Models in Los Angeles. After my first semester, I decided to leave school and drive to California to start working full time as a model. A few months after I relocated to LA, I signed with MC2 in Miami as well. I lost weight due to health issues and I am now signed nationally as a straight size model and happily working.
Brianna: That is incredible. I am so impressed at how you stayed so dedicated and disciplined. Clearly it paid off, you are working and doing so many new things with your career which I think is very admirable. Now, you have had tremendous success, predominately in the last year, can you explain what contributed to that?
Meredith: My success came very fast. I honestly don’t know why or how I was signed fresh to Wilhelmina in two major markets. However, I was and I am forever grateful. I Besides two fast signings and what-not, my success came to me because I work every single day on my career. Usually I get up at 5-6am and go to bed around 2-3am almost every day. The factors to my success have been passion, determination, being rejected or told no— I use that to expand and grow—being a good person to work with, and thinking outside of the box. I ask questions to anyone and everyone to benefit my work and expand, I network every day with new contacts, I am getting as much experience as I possibly can to develop myself, my body, and my art daily. The most important factors are to look up and think positively. I tell myself every day that everything happens for a reason. Everything. I take every positive or negative from the day and learn and expand from it, to think outside of the box as to how I can fix the situation or what I can do to improve it. I am always reaching to improve my brand and my business, it takes hard work.
As a teenager still, I am blown away at how I’ve grown in less than a year and how I’ve turned into a determined and motivated business person.
Brianna: Wow. I am speechless, I forget that you are so young because you carry yourself with such poise and grace. I think what I find so wonderful, and I think it is so rare to find, is your determination. Meredith, it is clear that everything you do is driven by your determination and passion. I remember listening to Brooke Wall, CEO of The Wall Group speak and she said that the only driving force you have to being successful is yourself, that you will determine how far you make it in the industry. I think that you embody every bit of that quote. You are so driven. It makes me feel excited, I love working with passionate people like yourself and I think that you are a true standout. So, you’ve modeled for so many brands as well as being considered for Maxim Cover Girl, and making it to the second round of Sports Illustrated’s Swim Search, which in itself is extraordinary but can you tell us about what that has been like?
Meredith: Yes. Sports Illustrated has been amazing to me. I absolutely love the swim industry and one of my biggest goals is to be in the pages of SI Swimsuit. I was one of 30 girls chosen out of about 15,000 to go to Miami for a private and personal SI Swimsuit casting. I was chosen through an Instagram video talking about how I want to spread the message about being the strongest and healthiest version of yourself. I am a huge advocate for health and wellness, and I am very blessed that my page has become a great influence in the industry— my message of strength and health has been shared with thousands, if not millions of people. I was down in Miami already for ‘Miami Swim Week’ with my agency there, MC2, and spent a whole Saturday with MJ Day (editor of SI Swimsuit), Kate Upton, Christie Brinkley, several more SI Swimsuit stars, and all the lovely ladies from the SI Swim Search.
This day experience was eye opening and humbling, it’s something I take immense pride in. I am proud that I am able to spend my life traveling and working with the most influential people in the business. I was also chosen to compete for Maxim Cover Girl. I’m not sure what will come of that, hopefully good things, fingers crossed.
Brianna: I will be sure to click daily, and I’m sure our readers will too. I think what you said about your page impacting so many people in a positive way and being shared so widely goes to show just how significant social media can be. I follow you and I love reading all of your posts, however I think my favorite thing you have shared is your story and your transformation. I truthfully don’t think I have ever heard another story, in this industry, that has come close to yours. You are truly special, Meredith. I know that you’ve gone through a huge transformation this past year, can you talk about what that was like? The physical aspects and mental.
Meredith: I’ll start with physical. As I mentioned earlier, I was originally signed as a curve plus size model and I moved to being a straight size 2 model. You don’t typically see this kind of transformation, especially that drastic of a change within just a few months. I started losing weight at the end of February/ beginning of March this year and have lost 70 pounds since. It was due to health issues—the LA water completely messed with my body. Before I found out it was the water, I changed what I was eating. I’ve always had food intolerances and sensitivity issues, but I cut out anything I thought could be hurting my body: preservatives, dairy, meat, grains, anything processed, etc. Now I only eat all whole, raw, and natural foods, so mostly vegetables, some fruit, and I cook egg whites and fish, but I also love fish sashimi style. This has been an incredible lifestyle change that works for my body. This will not work for everyone’s body and that’s okay. I’m so happy I found a style that’s easy, maintainable and comfortable for me.
I’ve always loved working out, I was a competitive Irish dancer my whole life, along with tap, ballet, gymnastics, jazz, hip hop, lyrical—all those fun styles of dance. I used to be really into weight lifting, but I do mostly cardio now and I follow an amazing program that I love from my trainer, John Benton. Working out and pushing my body to its limits is a treat for me—I work out at least once a day and look forward to it. Health, nutrition, and wellness are what I love, and it is so important to take what you love and thrive and flourish with it. I thrive when I am physically strong, and I flourish when I help and advise people every day with health and wellness tips. I love to help anyone and everyone in any way possible, wellness is one of the huge ways I get connected with amazing people.
Mentally this has been the hardest year of my life. With that being said, it has been the most amazing journey and I wouldn’t want my life any other way. I have gone from a young, unprofessional, naive, self-conscious, lazy girl to a strong, determined, motivated, business professional with my world in my hands. I have grown mentally in every aspect you can think of. I have learned how to take care of my brand and business, how to be a responsible adult, and how to push myself to my limits to meet with my goals.
I have had major and shocking physical transformations, but to me my mental transformation and how I view my life and the world are more drastic.
Brianna: You truly have gone through a transformation. One of the things I want to hone in on is what you said about taking what you love and flourishing from it. With your fan-base having many young women, I think that this is a wonderful message to put out there. A lot of people don’t care about their goals or endeavors but I think that you demonstrate the importance of following through with your goals no matter what. I also very much agree with what you said about taking care of yourself, health and wellness are huge parts of this industry. Since you have modeled for so many different brands and companies can you talk about one in particular, maybe your favorite?
Meredith: Oh my gosh yes! I love my Hot Topic family. I fit right in with HT in every way you can imagine, that brand is literally my life—I would write a whole book series. The brand reflects me and my carefree side, but I also love my team there. The photographer, makeup artist, stylists and I all have an amazing relationship and I always have the best days with them. Besides HT, I modeled Rihanna’s Savage x Fenty lingerie line. That was an incredible experience. I’m still blown away by the fact that I was one of Rihanna’s models.
Brianna: That is so cool. I think it’s great that you have a brand you can relate to when modeling. I love all of your shots and think that they are absolutely breathtaking. I have one last thing to ask, where do you see yourself in twenty years?
Meredith: Wow, loaded question. I honestly cannot tell you. In this career, every single day is uncertain. Nobody knows what will happen whether it be tomorrow, next week, next moth, etc., so to look forward 20 years to when I’m 39 is just impossible. I can only hope to be content. That’s what I want—contentment. To be satisfied with my art in my work, whether that’s the art of my photos or the art of expanding myself to meet, help, and know beautiful souls.
Brianna: Beautifully said. I thank you so much Meredith for chatting with me and I look forward to seeing your success. I wish you all of the best.