Sunday, September 6, 2009

Would you go homeless to model? I did.


Three years ago, I became the original homeless girl when media outlets such as Media Bistro, Gawker, NYPOST, NYTIMES, and sources around the globe featured my story as The Homeless Model Who Wrote Her Modeling Memoir at the Apple Store. Recently you may have heard of a girl named Bri, the 24 year old homeless girl, who was living in an RV in a Wal-Mart parking lot, and struggling to get a job, and then she emailed Elle Magazine’s advice columnist Ask E. Jean Carroll. Now she is an intern at Elle.

You don't have to be eating out of a trashcan to be homeless:
Living on the bare minimum was a way of life I got immune to, mainly because, going homelessness was a pure choice, it wasn’t because I couldn’t use my Bachelors degree and land a salary job with benefits in Advertising, I could have. I just didn’t want to. I wanted to pursue my dream instead. And if it meant giving up stability because I coulnd't hack rent while living on my dream fine, I’d suck it up.

Thankfully I had friends, or enough people in my life I could bounce from couch to couch from, (a photographer, fitness trainer, aspiring director), I never stayed on the street, or lived in an RV in a Wal-Mart parking lot, (when I heard Bri’s story Natalie Portman came to mind, in the film Where the Heart is, I am having decha vu’, aren’t you?)

Still, knowing you don’t have an address, a calm place to rest, a place of your own, your one space, is alarming. I had major anxiety, but kept focusing on my goals each day, I would figure out where I’d sleep later...

I am proud of Bri for being inventive; throwing herself out there, and the internship she landed… The internet is such a great source; it can create opportunities for people who wouldn’t originally get them otherwise.

It is also refreshing to know that there are companies out there that will take risks, and pushing the edge (hence hiring a homeless chick, when usually you need a secure address to get a job).

The risk of going homeless turned out to help me after-all:
For me, the risk of going homeless turned out to help me after-all and the Internet defiantly helped me as well, with self promotion. I had no money and no contacts in publishing. I can remember being at the Apple Store, typing on a display computer to news sources about me writing my memoir at the very store.

New to the world of publishing by reaching out to reporters, columnist, bloggers, and writers, websites like Media Bistro, Gawker, Ad Age, The Metro, Ad Age, were the first to share my story. I’ll never forget the morning I was in the New York Times, from contacting a reporter through the website contact form to send her an email, and sharing my story with her.

Writing my modeling memoir at the Apple Store, when I was homeless may have become buzz worthy, but at the time of writing my memoir the process was not something I thought I’d even ever share with people. I tried to ignore my own desperation reflecting on the computer screen each time I was at the store hogging a computer for hours. It was a choice to be there, and a choice to go homeless, and a way to survive, continue on, and keep at my pursuits. Just simply being able to check my email on the store’s display computers meant a lot. Just being able to use the bathroom was nice too.

My memoir Almost 5’4” starts when I am leaving Harlem after failing to pay rent…again. With a suitcase in hand and about $23 in my pocket, I head to the Apple Store, and a photo-shoot is scheduled for later that day, I will be soon hunting for a couch to sleep on.

As I wrote the memoir at the store, I was living it at the same time.

If I wanted to continue to live in NYC, model the way I wanted to, and keep pursuing, something had to give. Stability.

Sometimes when you want something bad enough you will even sacrifice basic “needs (stability, a home, a good meal, a computer)” over your own desire to continue to do what you want to do.

Dragging my suitcase, it was my homelessness that lead me to writing my memoir at the Apple Store, and the Apple Store would later become something marketable and even lead to opportunities.

Today I look back and think about those moments, that I consider a “precious time” in my life. I am comfortable being known as "the homeless girl who wrote her book at the Apple Store," because even though I am not homeless today I do wonder: Where would I be if I didn’t give up my apartment, go homeless, and use the Apple Store as my office? I am not sure, but I know I wouldn’t be as happy as I am today.

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