The dream for many young girls is to become a model, it all seems so glamorous and appealing. Here Lynda Hennebry speaks to Rebecca O’Brien, who tells us about the realities of juggling life as a student in UCC with being a model.
Rebecca (Becky) O’Brien is a twenty-year-old UCC student who’s taking the modeling 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 two years ago, she’s really settled into the city life and is loving every minute of it, “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 going back to Cork for her third year studying Biological Sciences. The course is very demanding, but Becky’s adjusting to college life really well, and says “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 modeling agencies in the country, Prima, and has worked professionally with them since she was eighteen years old. When she realised a career as a model could be for her, Becky went straight to her parents for help 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 seeing as they were locally based.”
After attending an open day, she was picked up immediately, “It was a five 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 was 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'.”
Being a model is a dream come true for her but it wasn’t something she had planned growing up. 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 was always asked by family friends ‘Has she given modeling a go?’ simply because of my height. But being a model is so much more than just having the stereotypical tall, slim frame.’’
A model’s 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!”
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. 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.’’
The future for this young lady seems nothing but bright but for Becky it’s the same as always; degree first, then focussing on modeling.
“I like to set myself quite high goals, so I 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.
“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.’’