By Vivian Nweze
Growing up in Disney’s back yard, dreams are fostered at a young age. Every kid wants to be a rockstar, a supermodel, a famous actor, or Miss America…but who actually chases their dreams once they are old enough to do so?
I, like other young women, struggle everyday to figure out what choices to make to lead to a brighter future. Do we take the tried-and-true route or forge our own path towards success? While on the brink of a quarter-life crisis (yes those exist), I reached out to an old friend, Shelby Israel, who has left the comfort of our hometown of Orlando,Florida to pursue her dream of becoming a model in New York.
Vivian: When did you first think of becoming a model?
Shelby Israel: I first thought of modeling when I was 14. My mom decided to take pictures of me in the back yard for fun. I said, “wow, mom I really want to model”, and she said you can.
Vivian: Who inspires you?
Shelby Israel:The model Natalia Vodianova inspires me, because a lot of people say we look exactly alike. She is an amazing model who came from nothing and made it to the top and that it was inspires me the most about her.
Vivian: When did you really start to think “I can do this”?
Shelby Israel: I started to think I could really do this when I was 19. I saved up money to move to Miami, lost 25 pounds, did a bunch of photo shoots to prepare myself for getting signed. I was completely dedicated and that’s when I really believed in myself that I could do this.
Vivian: What have you had to sacrifice or change about your life to get where you are now?
Shelby Israel: I have had to sacrifice seeing my family and friends. I am now in New York and I don’t really get to see my family anymore. I only see them on holidays, which is hard on me since I am one of five kids. It’s hard but it is all worth the sacrifice. Also, I have had to sacrifice my friends because you cannot really keep or make a lot of friends. I have learned that you are the only one that can be your one true friend. It has been hard but has made me extremely strong.
Vivian: When you feel unsure, what motivates you to keep going?
Shelby Israel: I keep going by just looking towards the future or looking back and seeing how much I’ve accomplished.
Vivian: What has been your favorite shoot or show so far?
Shelby Israel: My favorite shoot so far was the client Mandee I just worked for, because it was so much fun I got to let loose and be myself. And now my pictures are all over Manhattan, which is really cool. My favorite show was last year when I walked for Michael Kors. It was a huge deal because he was there and I got to take a picture with him. I was so thrilled.
Vivian: Miami or New York?
Shelby Israel: New York is a lot better for me than Miami, because it is my market. There are so many more opportunities here and lots of more jobs. Miami was a great place to start modeling and develop my book but I definitely think New York is better.
Vivian: What are your goals for the future?
Shelby Israel: My future goals are to keep modeling for as long as I can, to enjoy the experience, and just try to achieve as much as I can. Eventually I would love to become a makeup artist.
Vivian: What advice do you have for girls who are trying to decide if they should follow their dreams or do something more “safe”?
Shelby Israel:Try to follow your dreams because if I didn’t then I would not be here. Failure is okay. At least try and if it doesn’t work out you can look back and say you tried it. Follow your dreams to the fullest and stay motivated.
Vivian: Any finals words about your journey?
Shelby Israel: It’s been a wonderful journey and I hope that I can inspire other girls to follow their dreams.
Shelby Israel is signed to NEXT Model Management and Red Model Management in New York. You can follow her journey on instagram: @ShelbyIs.