As a model turned buyer, Alysha Nett is an inspiration to young girls who look to seize opportunities and forward their professional careers. Read how she got her start:
I get questions every single day via tumblr, twitter, etc. from aspiring models that want advice on how to be a model or how to “make it” as some seem to think I have. It’s hard answering every question so I hope people find these write-ups I’m doing for Glamour Kills to be helpful or interesting, in the least. I can’t really give a “how-to” but I can tell you guys my story.
I was 19 when I did my first photo shoot. I lived in Wichita, KS and worked at a call center for $8.00/hr (which was a lot, i thought). I had a Myspace and received a message from a photographer local to my area. I decided to give it a try. I was terrible. Every photo I looked like a deer in headlights. I was uncomfortable and didn’t know how to show expression in my face. After that, I did a couple more but nothing too serious.
Shortly after, I started dating a photographer in town whose work i had previously admired. In the time we saw each other he taught me how to let go and feel comfortable in front of the camera. He used to tell me that if I could work a white wall in a photoshoot then i could handle anything. We built a small but solid portfolio and i put it on the internet when I created a Model Mayhem account. In that same time I started my blog on tumblr (alysha.tumblr.com). Using Model Mayhem allowed me to find creatives in bigger markets that were somewhat near to my location. I started by traveling up to Kansas City, down to Dallas & Austin, then 12 hours to Chicago. By making myself present in other markets it opened the door to new teams being interested in working with me. I started getting offers to fly to LA & NYC to work and would do so on occasion. At this time I had also managed to put myself through beauty school and was working full-time as a hair stylist at a salon. Doing hair was fun, but traveling and creating was my real passion. I struggled to make much money. In fact, I would often spend what I made while traveling to where I was. My parents were angry with me and wanted me to “quit with the modeling” because it was interfering with the real world. After two years of traveling once or twice a month, it was becoming too much. After a final trip to NYC, I realized while there that I had no desire to go home. At all. When that realization occurred my life changed forever.
Hours upon coming home to Kansas, I had broken up with my boyfriend and quit my job. I sold all my things and within two weeks had moved all my things to my mother’s in Dallas, TX. I was 22 years old and it was the first time in 4 years I had lived with my parents. For the most part, my mother’s place was a storage for my things. I spent that first summer traveling the country in my car. I stopped city to city and booked shoots via model mayhem, email, & various social media outlets. toward the end of the summer some friends of mine in Philadelphia asked me if i wanted to move in to their guest room. I took the opportunity and happily moved in. With New York so close, I would take the $20 bus (round trip!) and spend the day (or a few) in the city, shooting and networking. It was around this time that I also decided to spend more time in LA. My photographer friend opened his door to me and invited me to stay the winter in his guest room. I drove my car across the country from philly to LA and stayed. I did this same sort of routine for another year.
After my second winter in LA I had the same realization as before- I did not want to go back. I had a trip to Europe planned so I decided to do that before making any major decisions. I went to England and France for 3 1/2 weeks. While there, I was very fortunate to work with FRONT Magazine on my first cover shoot. I had applied to model for them prior via webcam, and had done a couple features that were shot in the states, but getting the cover as an American was major. I shared the cover with Arabella Drummond and thankfully for me, it was received quite well. After this trip, I also decided to retire my “signature” hair cut that I had been rocking for the last couple years. I think I single handedly wore that side cut dead, haha. I returned to the states, grew my hair out, and moved to LA. I had stacked a little cash from my visit to Europe and was able to move to LA into the apartment of my dreams.
My first summer in LA was intense. I was out every night, working every day, and trying to meet as many people as I could. I’ve always stayed true to myself and kept my values that were instilled to me as a kid. Don’t cheat, don’t lie, don’t steal, work hard, and always smile. Through all this, I’ve traveled the world, worked with top companies and brands, and appeared in a national television commercial. I’ve appeared in shows on MTV and TLC. I’ve graced the cover of 5+ magazines and had photo t-shirts sold in stores like Urban Outfitters and PacSun. Some people would feel accomplished by this, but for me it is never enough. That drive and ambition is what has helped set me apart from other models. The biggest part about “making it” in this industry (or any industry for that matter) is perseverance. Always have a goal and never give up. Embrace what makes you different and capitalize on it.