So how’d you get into modeling?
I’ve only been it doing it since November. In October, I was backpacking and couch surfing in California for the whole month. Robert Donahue, a fashion photographer in L.A, ran into me at a coffee shop and started bugging me to model because he was trying to shoot a girl with a gap in her teeth. I was like, “No way, I’m not photographable. I’m not doing it.” He showed me his portfolio and I was like, “No way, these girls are gorgeous, I’m not shooting with you.” But it went really well, and I got a really good response. I’ve been doing it six months, and I said I’d give myself a year.
You’re a star on the rise.
It’s been great, but one of the main things with modeling is that I donate 25% of my earnings to Uganda, which is where I go every January. Four years ago, I saw a documentary called Invisible Children about the war in Uganda and it just left me shattered. I couldn’t get it out of my head, so I started researching it more and finding out how I could get involved and help raise money to build schools. I went by myself to Uganda and met the kids—the sad thing is a lot of kids in the area, they don’t even have shoes, so we tried to outfit many of them. And I did a lot of music and art therapy with the kids.
Did you study this in college?
I started traveling right out of high school. My degree is for third-world development, but I haven’t finished it because I have been so caught up in traveling and humanitarian work. I’m taking it easy with school, but I definitely want to graduate because I’d be the first one in my family.
Is modeling a means for you to help others or do you also enjoy it?
It’s both. I think of it as an art, and I love all forms of art—that’s one of the reasons I like MMA. I enjoy it because I think the body is beautiful, but I also think it enlarges your platform to bring awareness to causes. It especially helps me bring awareness to the causes I’m passionate about, so I want to pursue it for both reasons.
How did you get involved in MMA?
The last two guys I dated were fighters—not pro or anything. That definitely made me interested in it, because I’d see them do it and I was just fascinated. Of course, everyone likes seeing a knockout because it’s cool or whatever, but I really like the submissions. I think it’s really fascinating, all the techniques and skills required.
So you only date fighters?
No! I actually didn’t know that either of them were fighters before I started dating them. I just so happen to be drawn to them, maybe? I don’t really date at all actually.
What does a guy have to do to win you over?
Number one: humor. I think laughing is the best thing you can do in life. Life is too short not toz laugh, and I don’t like when people take things too seriously. I think when a guy has a good time and laughs and makes you laugh, that’s the sexiest trait you can find in a guy. I also like an outdoors guy. I think it’s attractive when a man is selfless and wants to help people.
How do you keep Austin, TX, fun?
I think I’m one of the weirdest girls you can meet in Austin actually. I go blues dancing on the East Side every Monday night in saddle shoes. I ride my bike to the snow cone stand all the time. I totaled my car and am about to buy a scooter. I think that’s pretty goofy.
True or false: everything is bigger in Texas?
What’s bigger in Texas for you?
Life altogether. Austin is a very active city, and I like that I can go to Whole Foods for an hour and make three friends. One of my biggest skills is adaptability. One of my nicknames is “Smile maker” because I’m always making people laugh and acting goofy. People seem really serious in other cities, but Austin is just so much fun. I love it.
Tell me about your couch surfing experience.
I did in Europe, New York, and all over California. I’ve had couch surfers stay with me in Austin. It’s very fun. A lot of people think it’s dangerous, but if you do it right, it’s really not. It’s all legit people for the most part, and I’ve never been in a shady situation as far as couch surfing.You meet the coolest people ever. You meet people from all over the world. I think that’s one of the best educations you can have, meeting people from all over the world and hearing their stories.
Tell us a secret.
I don’t think I have any secrets! I’m an open person, an open book.
Secret talent maybe?
My number one talent like I said is adaptability and smile making, but I am an Indian leg-wrestling champ. I’ve been doing it since I was five years old. I’m not sure of my record—it’s been more than 200 matches. I even beat a lady who was like 200-something pounds. That’s a strong lady with strong legs. I’m pretty good!
So what’s next for you?
One of my goals this year is to build four wells in Haiti, build one school in Uganda, and take my grandma to Hawaii.
That’s pretty ambitious. Are guys intimidated by everything you do?
I haven’t had a long-term relationship in awhile because of my lifestyle, it’s hard to fit one in. A lot of guys are maybe intimidated that I’m such a passionate person. I have so many passions: traveling, modeling, acting, learning, and unlearning. As far as the modeling thing, I don’t think they’re that intimidated.
What words do you live by?
“For beautiful eyes, look for the good in others; for beautiful lips, speak only words of kindness; and for poise, walk with the knowledge that you are never alone.” That’s like my favorite quote!
Last words for readers?
Life is short. Do what you love. Thanks so much for having me in FIGHT! Magazine.
No, thank you, Smile maker.