Darian Ellis continues her modeling career beyond America’s Next Top Model
By Sarah L. WebbPosted Jan 2, 2013
TV watchers may know Darian Ellis for her sculptural poses on Season 19 of the hit show America’s Next Top Model. That season, which aired from August to November 2012, was a college edition, drawing 13 models who were enrolled in universities around the country.
Though Ellis was eliminated from the competition in Episode 3, the Baton Rouge native and LSU Tiger doesn’t plan to stop. In a conversation with Dig, Ellis explained the ultimate motivation for her life as a public figure, and gave a preview of where the runway may lead her next.
DIG: What drew you to the modeling opportunity and made you believe it was worth a shot?
Darian Ellis: I’d always been interested in modeling. I grew up admiring Tyra [Banks] and Naomi [Campbell], and wanting to be on those runways. I wanted to be in fashion. I just took that leap of faith one day and went to a casting call for Fashion Week in New Orleans, and I made it. I said if any other opportunity presents itself, I’m definitely going to give it a shot. And that’s where Top Model came from.
DIG: You studied biological sciences at LSU. What else would you be doing if you hadn’t taken a chance with modeling?
DE: I’ve always been good at science, and I’ve always wanted to help women in some way. I’m majoring in biology to possibly be a gynecologist. My other dream would be to open up a clinic.
DIG: What are the most difficult and enjoyable aspects of the industry for you?
DE: The constant rejection. It’s not a personal thing. It’s just a part of the business. You have to be strong enough to accept that. You’re not going to be what they’re looking for all of the time. Sometimes you’ll be great for what they want, and sometimes you won’t. The designers make the clothes, but they trust the models to sell the clothes. So it’s all about how you look in them, and making sure you’re comfortable in them. I love modeling clothes. It’s just really satisfying to me. I feel like I’m well on my way to living my dream, and that’s the best part of it.
DIG: Speaking of living your dream, do you think it’s feasible to have a really successful career here in Baton Rouge?
DE: I love Baton Rouge. This is where I started, and it’s great. But I understand that the fashion capitals are New York and LA. You have to branch out, because there aren’t too many opportunities in Louisiana. The ones that are here, I grab them, but I understand that eventually I’m going to have to move to really get to the level that I’m trying to reach.
DIG: You talked about Tyra Banks and Naomi Campbell. Who else do you admire in the fashion industry?
DE: I love Anna Wintour, the editor over at Vogue. I just feel like she has a great eye. All of the first models: Iman and Beverly Johnson. These are women that I admire, women that I strive to meet one day. Just people who I feel have really opened the door for all women to live their dreams. Mark Jacobs is my favorite designer. I love all the concepts that he comes up with, and he always has the best runway shows for Fashion Week. He’s definitely one of my favorites that I would love to walk with.
DIG: What’s typically going through your head when you’re working on the runway or for a photo shoot?
DE: You have to listen to the photographer and the designer to see what type of emotion they want in that picture. If they want you to be happy, then you have to think happy thoughts. It’s all about the mood of the shoot. But when I step out on the catwalk, I’m thinking I’m the best model, and I have the most confident walk. You have to just believe that, and it shows. It’s not so much of a diva attitude. It’s just that I’m confident here, and this is where I should be, and this is what I want to do. This is your dream, sweetie. Don’t fall!
DIG: What did you take away from America’s Next Top Model?
DE: I had to understand that even though I didn’t win, I’m still a great model. I had to hold on to my dream and not be swayed by the fact that I didn’t win. I was a bit upset, but I had to remember that starting out as a new model, making it on ANTM is pretty good.
DIG: Whom do you turn to for support?
DE: I look to my family, my boyfriend, and my very close friends. If I’m doing a show, and I’m backstage, and I’m getting nervous, just a text from them always snaps me right back. Those are the people that you need in your corner.
DIG: How has your life changed since you’ve started modeling?
DE: One of the biggest things I find is that I might be lost in my own little world, maybe in Wal-Mart, and people just know you. They come up to you and they speak. It’s just an amazing thing to see their faces. It’s great to just hug them or take a picture. For me, being that to another person is just crazy. I love that.
DIG: Where do you see yourself headed from here?
DE: I’m not going to stop pursuing modeling. Once I realized that I had what it takes, it was like a firecracker. I just can’t stop now. I plan on moving to LA or New York soon. Personally, I just want to keep growing and moving forward. I don’t want to be stuck in a rut.
DIG: What advice would you give to aspiring models?
DE: As soon as you realize that it’s something you want to do, start immediately. Whether it’s little shows, or any opportunity you see. I started off as a child doing runway shows at church. I also say do your research, make sure it’s something that you want to do, be confident, and never stop. I want all the girls who have a dream to not be afraid. If I had started when I was younger, there’s no telling where I could be. If you feel like you have a dream, no matter what it is, whether it’s modeling or becoming a doctor, don’t be afraid to pursue that. I always want to uplift women and make them feel like they’re special, because sometimes society makes them feel like they’re not, like they can’t do things. Always try at least, so that you’ll know. I never thought that just from doing one runway show, I’d be on America’s Next Top Model meeting Tyra Banks. So just try, and believe in yourself.