* Welcome to the 86th installment of The Quaz Q&A. This feature—a question-and-answer session with a person from sports/entertainment/politics/whatever—will appear every week on jeffpearlman.com. If you have any suggestions/ideas for people to speak with, hit me up at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’m listening.
I don’t mean to sound especially casual or indifferent to beauty. It’s just that, well, ever since escorting one to the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit party 12 or 13 years ago, I’ve been turned off by the industry. I mean, I still vividly remember the scene—a bunch of stuck-up, long-necked, 98-pound giraffes smoking one cigarette after another while desperately trying to ignore the brownies. Yuck.
Luckily, Brittanie Weaver—fashion model extraordinaire—is no Camel-smoking giraffe. Yes, she’s tall. And thin. But not ridiculously so. She’s beautiful but healthy-looking; knows how to walk a runway, but also recognizes the oddness and quirks of her profession. Her resume is long and impressive, with work as a spokesperson and/or model for dozens of companies ranging from Swiss Watch and Reckless Rebel Bikinis to Spree Girl and Charlie M clothing.
Here, Brittanie talks about the highs and lows of the modeling biz; what it takes to make it and why too many models don’t use their brains. She also willingly answers the one questions I’ve always wanted to ask a model—but never before have.
Brittanie Weaver, welcome to The Quaz …
JEFF PEARLMAN: Brittanie, there is a facial expression that all models seem required to perfect and utilize, I call it the, “I want to have sex on the table with you right now” look. Lips pursed, eyes intent. You know what I mean, right? Yet, here’s the thing: I’m married, two kids—so I’ve certainly had sex. Yet I don’t think I’ve ever, ever, ever had a woman make “that face” to me. Uh … what is that? Is it a real look? Because, truth be told, it’s sorta the face I make when I’m constipated and trying to poop …
BRITTANIE WEAVER: You mean the Zoolander blue steel face? There isn’t a set of faces but the whole point is usually to be very fierce and intense. When you push out your lips a bit it accentuates your jaw line and for the eyes. Most don’t know but the model actually thinks of what they are trying to express. For example: sexy, I would imagine myself feeling absolutely sexy and sensual. To come off sweet, you soften your eyes and think/feel about sweet things like puppies. It is fascinating to me how just a thought can clearly be expressed with solely the eyes. I have to admit I did the face you described and I definitely felt constipated as well. In real life and sexual experiences I avoid any forced faces to appear as sexy and even in modeling I try to use my natural expressions and faces. Are you sure you weren’t looking at images on a fetish site?
J.P.: Here’s what I know—you were born in San Diego, started acting at age 8, landed multiple commercials, etc. But, specifically, how did you get into acting and modeling? Was there something about performing that did it for you from Day 1? Were your parents stage veterans? In short, how did this happen?
B.W.: I’m assuming you read my bio? That gets updated once a year … boy, are you behind! I grew up a total ham putting on plays for my parents and staring in my first ballet recital at age 2. My parents were from a small town called Julian with no stage experience. My mom was urged by people to get me into the business and my brother and I started with Screen Children’s Agency. We lived in Rancho Cucamonga so my parents would take turns driving me at 4 am to my call times in Los Angeles. My brother actually booked way more work than me. I remember the best part was being able to go on extended home studies and would take off for weeks to film a commercial and come back as Miss Hollywood.
J.P.: You’re 5-foot-8 and you weigh 106 pounds. I always find it funny how, often, models were not the “hot” girls in junior high; high school; that they were often the tall, gangly, uncomfortable kids who the jocks ignored in favor of the perky cheerleader with the big breasts. Am I onto something here? Was that you? And when did you start to understand and appreciate your own physical beauty?
B.W.: I was always a pretty girl but I was very much a tom boy. I switched high schools my freshman year and lived with my dad and three brothers for a change. In short, I didn’t have my mother walking me out the door and helping me with hair and makeup so I didn’t wear any. A typical day was a pony tail, jeans, tennis shoes and eager to get home to ride my dirtbike or horse. I always had boys around but not the way one would probably imagine if they saw me now. I also had three big brothers so dating me usually wasn’t worth the risk. The jocks called me “flat ass” because I apparently had a “flat ass.” It’s not flat now. I used to wish I was short because I was usually taller than the boys at that age.
J.P.: Years ago I escorted a model to the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit party, and I was amazed/disgusted by how many of these healthy-looking women smoked like chimneys. Simple question—why do so many models smoke?
B.W.: Why does anyone smoke? I actually do not come across many smokers. When you are shooting it isn’t the easiest to get away to go toke on cancer sticks. I find it disgusting and if anyone does it around me I tell them I have asthma (I don’t) and usually they stop. I find most of the smokers are in fashion actually and I think that’s part of their fashion statement. You were also at a party and people find smoking a social thing. They will not look healthy in a couple years if they keep it up! Give me a cover, I promise not to smoke. YUCK YUCK YUCK!
J.P.: I just went to your IMDB page, and in 1999 you were “Neighbor” on “Frank Leaves for the Orient.” Uh … explain, please.
B.W.: I was cast with my brother as a regular on a series on Comedy Central. The lead overdosed and died. The show never aired. Everything happens for a reason, right?! My IMDB also needs a lot of updating … feeling so guilty right now.
J.P.: What are you thinking—literally–as you prepare to walk a runway, then walk a runway? Are you nervous? Calm? Is there a “don’t trip … don’t trip … don’t trip …” string going through your mind? Seriously—how does your modeling mind work?
B.W.: I am naturally an over-thinker so, yes, I explore every fear before I can remotely think of the positives. I find just “going for it” usually works out best in anyones favor. My modeling mind is seriously natural. I will do the most outrageous poses and come up with the craziest ideas all in the moment. Most do not understand all of the thought, effort and creation that goes into a single ad.
J.P.: This might sound like an odd question—but do people expect models to be stupid and flighty? You’re obviously intelligent and educated. But I’m wondering if you’ve found that your job comes with unflattering expectations.
B.W.: Totally—you have already dropped about five of them. Haha. Every job has stigmas. Here are some common phrases:
• “Wait, you are sooooo normal… not for just a model… but like a human…. Whoa.”
• “I have to ask, you are so intelligent … why resort to modeling? You’re so much better than that”
• “But models are supposed to be stupid.”
I think a lot of people are “stupid” and 80 percent of people I work with prefer showing up and being a blank, lost stare. The job is primarily to be a clothes hangar and even the pros have given up using their brains. My brain is mainly a flaw because people do not usually want to even hear a model open her mouth, let alone share creative vision or opinion. I fear the day someone doesn’t let me use my brain. My success has been strictly thanks to my intelligence and I am just getting started masterminding my way through the system.
J.P.: Brittanie, I have a 9-year-old daughter. She’s tall, she’s blonde, and I’ve been asked 1,000 times whether she models. To be 100% blunt, I always say the same thing—“Lord no!” Brittanie, I don’t want her being judged for her looks; I don’t want her feeling pressure to weigh 70 pounds; don’t want her resorting to a diet of cigarettes and Diet Coca-Cola. So tell me—why am I wrong? What am I missing about your profession?
B.W.: Jeff, First off I completely understand you not wanting your daughter to have a profession based off of her looks, but I must say congrats on having a beautiful daughter. I think the important thing here is what your daughter wants to do and also to see the positive aspects of the career. I love the visual but instead of Diet Coke I prefer original Coca Cola and instead of a cigarette I have my dog in my hands.
I cannot speak for all models as we know your visual has reason behind it but I will speak for myself. Modeling can be a very damaging career for many reasons and it takes a very strong individual to actually succeed at it. You get told you are too skinny, too fat, too short and too tall in the same day and you need to have a backbone strong enough to know that everyone has a preference and to move along. It has taught me wonderful life skills on how to laugh things off and to never give up. In fact you get told no more than you get told yes and it is that formula that makes me addicted to wanting to excel at it. You see, I don’t want anything in life that comes easy. I can compare it to sports—you have the athletes that use enhancers and chew tobacco and the ones that are all natural. Same with modeling. You have the models who are so damaged and mentally ill … starving themselves to be something they aren’t. And you have the models who love the art, playing dress up, and do it the healthy way. These models are all in competition and the ones who are mentally sound (or have the super teams behind them) make the solid careers. People like to listen to beautiful people—it’s a fact—and I plan on being a role model for girls like your daughter. You can express yourself and make a wonderful living off of your God-given talents. It is not all beauty—because it takes some serious brains to know the difference.
I’m a very competitive person and no two jobs are the same. Each booking is a high that I chase. I like to win and there are not many professions that offer the same roller coaster. It’s not easy to wake up and go to five different castings and sell yourself just to find our that you didn’t book one. Most people wouldn’t be able to handle the rejection, inconsistency and no promise of a paycheck. I actually turn down more jobs than I accept. Whether its not paying the fair amount on using your exposure or if it isn’t right for your long-term vision. No paycheck is better than a nationwide company trying to lure you in with popularity rather than the legit usage fees, residuals, and paycheck. I could call some “monsters” out of their caves but I won’t. I am a workaholic and have a very hard time not being in front of a camera so that’s one thing in 2013 I want to work on. I don’t even fully comprehend how some models pay their rent knowing the rates they accept and it lowers the standards for all of the professionals holding out for what’s fair. Not all models take pics in hopes their beauty will lure a gazallionare and that’s what sets apart the pros from the rookies. It is important not to stereotype anyone because I’m building an empire out of my brand and currently beauty is what I am selling. But I know I won’t be a size zero forever so I’m seeking long-term value and I know that shows in what I project.
J.P.: Greatest moment of your career? Lowest?
B.W.: Greatest moment of my career has truly been having my family’s support through all of my decisions. I am super family-oriented to the point where other models have suggested I post more bikini photos and less pics of my family on my IG to update my follower count. You have to have a foundation in this industry and I am blessed to have sane, beautiful people behind me congratulating my success.
Lowest moment of my career would have to be when my family was questioning my choice of modeling and critiquing my life and schooling. The only opinions that can emotionally impact me are those of my family members, and I am so beyond thrilled to share each of my accomplishments with them.
B.W.: My bio chronicles some of my accomplishments and I worked with the producer of The Black Swan as her body double. Body doubles work alongside an actor filming all the stuff they pretty much don’t get paid to stand around and do. Shots of backs, hands, etc. It is not a dream job, but in this industry you work your way up. Of course, I would have rather been the lead but it will be a while before I can work with people of that caliber in a lead position. You make relationships with amazing producers and directors and it follows the “It’s not what you know but who you know” train of thought. I ended off 2012 with a nationwide campaign for PNC Bank and a global campaign for Philips Electronics.
J.P.: I’m going to ask you a truly inappropriate question—but one I’ve ALWAYS wanted to ask a model or extremely attractive celebrity. I mean zero disrespect. Literally, zero. Brittanie, you are a fashion model who appears in sexy clothing, skimpy clothing, etc. It is a near certainty that men (and women) have, well, pleasured themselves to your image. Does that weird you out at all? Is it a compliment? An insult? Something better left un-thought?
B.W.: Ha! I actually have never really thought about it. I am not one of the models who goes out looking for attention sexually, and I think that shows in my personal posts. However, I do have a lot of sexy pics and, well, call me naïve, I guess I look at it one-sided and that’s that everything I do is super professional and tasteful so it doesn’t come off as something someone would pleasure himself to. I have been told that someone Google searched me to do that and it kind of creeped me out. I appreciate honesty and even though I am a complete pervert its not something that I want to hear or visualize. I want to be desired and people are entitled to do that in whatever way they please. I guess … thanks, but no thanks?
• Ever thought you were about to die in a plane crash? If so, details, please: Yep, flying United. Landing gear didn’t come down into John Wayne airport from a spokesmodel tour. Captain told us “to prepare for a water landing, thank you for flying United” as we plummeted down toward the ground and then shot up like a rocket. The plane twisted and turned for five minutes and I was hysterical. Finally the plane leveled again and went back to land safely. When we landed no one said a peep and we all did a walk of shame off of the plane. We later were told about the landing gear and the maneuvers were to shake it down. In the moment I believed I truly was going to die. I thought, “No, not me, not like this. God, this is happening, isn’t it” I have never felt so helpless. I was so shaken up I could barely make the drive back to L.A.
• Five greatest fashion models of your lifetime: My faves are Kate Moss, Marisa Miller, Candice Swanepoel, Cindy Crawford and Heidi Klum.
• Rank in order (favorite to least): Tyra Banks, mac and cheese, Ed Ott, Christina Aguilera, Kansas City Royals, iPhone 5, granola, Miami, The Fray, Les Miserables, Sunglass Hut, flip-flops, Chris Christie: iPhone 5, mac and cheese, flip flops, granola, Miami, Tyra Banks, Kansas City Royals, Sunglass Hut, The Fray, Ed Ott, Chris Christie, Les Miserables, Christina Aguilera—yuck.
• Biggest myth about models: They don’t eat.
• Top-of-the-head joke you can tell me: Q. What’s the difference between tampons and cowboy hats? A. Cowboy hats are for assholes.
• Celine Dion calls, she wants you to play a one-armed dentist named Bob in the off-Broadway adaptation of “Celine: My Life.” You in?: I never turn down a good time.
• With so much free on the web, why does the SI Swimsuit Issue still matter? Or does it?: It totally matters!! The Swimsuit Issue is the god of all magazines. I think people actually enjoy purchasing it as a nostalgic act. Someday soon, I am coming for you …
• Five reasons to make Los Angeles one’s next vacation destination: People watch. Mountains, beach, desert within an hour. I live here. The food. I live here.
• Bigger turnoff on a date—tuna fish breath or incredibly thick uni-brow?: They can both be fixed … but the tuna might make me throw up. Smells like you washed your vagina with a dirtier vagina! Jeez, who set up this flop?
• I’m worried about Mark Sanchez ever being a competent NFL QB again. Thoughts?: Google—first link: “NY Jets stuck with Mark Sanchez, and Rex Ryan should be accountable for quarterback’s collapse” No. Seems his break-up with Eva Longoria really has him in a funk.