After I won top model, I was stuck in a 3 year contract with an agency that no longer wanted me. Top Model dumped them for IMG in season 2 and they were pretty bitter about it. They sent the 3rd runner up who they had signed to Hong Kong because the show was huge there. It was a sensation. I figured they’d send me too considering I won it. Nope. They wanted to send me to South Africa, etc where no one knew me and no one even heard of the show. I did a tv show with Janice Dickenson (Rock me Baby?) and she asked me where I was being sent. When I told her South Africa she said “Oh GOD!” and straight up told me they were shitting on me and my career. She told me to demand I get sent to the market where I would work and was famous/in demand instead of a market where I was unknown. LA, Chicago, London, Hong Kong anywhere but South Africa. No dice. Ultimately, I do not regret going to live there for a summer, as it was one of my favorite experiences in my life. The pay there for models was even more abysmal than in the states, but it was wild and I got this amazing shot out of the deal.
There was nothing I could do besides sneak into castings while in NYC, etc to try to book work. I wasn’t always given a lot of go-sees. I got some here and there. I would usually just spot and follow fellow models. That did lead to some awkward situations. I remember going to a casting in NYC and they let me know it was direct requests only. Oops! Anyway, a long the way I learned how lackluster modeling paychecks were. 40% was paid to the agency by the client. Then, your greedy agency demanded a whopping 40% from YOU. Your agency would hang onto your money till you started shrieking at windows demanding to be paid. I never chased top model for fame. I wanted CASH. When you grow up with a lack of cash, you recognize that money is NOT happiness. However, it parlays itself into many options. I wanted more options. I wanted to be able to treat the ones I loved.
The cover of a major magazine? A fashion spread inside? It did not pay very well at all. Walking a runway? Yay, they bought my lunch tomorrow! I guess the goal is to LOOK glamorous…live in a tiny apartment and skirt by in life. So long as your book keeps building and you LOOK successful, you are! Unless you are one of the 1% of models, your life is NOT very glamorous, even if you are regularly working. Let’s face it, the runner up and third runner up on my season did laps around me. I am not a person that stops others in their tracks with my beauty. I was never going to be a top model even if I had been handled better and sent to markets I could work in. I would have booked due to fame. I am an average/pretty girl who always struggled with being far too fat in comparison to the other girls. I do NOT think I am fat. However, when all the models you run into are built like waifs and you are about 15lbs heavier than them even when you are trying to diet…you realize you are not streamlined for the gig.
(baby me with no make up)
My diamond campaign paid me more than most paid other models. I had befriended the team and they were VERY cool with me. We met on top model and they were really impressed with my photos. They said they tried to immediately book me but the show had me sequestered. I was able to cultivate a friendship/partnership with Merit diamonds after the fact. I struck a deal to go to conventions, etc with em along with my ads. In retrospect, in comparison to future gigs, I would have been on the fence over doing it. It was my best paying modeling job…but after my agency raped me for their percentage and took MORE from the client…I remember being shocked at how little I actuially was paid from it.
I learned very quickly, that my goals should change. TV is exposure and what comes of it is more cash and gigs. I won top model because of my personality, not my striking good looks and perfect body. I focused on that instead. That is when I hit the lotto. When I FINALLY was free of the chains of my former modeling contract (longest 3 years of my life!), I secured an agent and manager. (After the surreal life. My old modeling agent raped that paycheck, too lol) I did it on a handshake. I made it very clear that I would never again be stuck in a contract where people can hurt me. I made sure my agent would not just pocket money off work they did not get me. I wheeled and dealed with my manager to knock down his take depending on certain variables. I incorporated myself so the government wouldn’t rape the last bit of money that I was actually payed from gigs and I could start writing off what I paid my team. Being the spokeswoman for The Flexbelt might not be as glam as gracing the cover of Italian Vogue, but it paid a HELL of a lot more.
Starring in a Pistachio commercial with my ex may not be the apex of all things glam…but it paid far more than a few years of non stop glamorous modeling. A small guest star role on a network show? That shit pays SO much more than a magazine spread. In fact, 10 seconds of walking by and saying two words on a network sitcom paid more than 10 magazine covers, 20 magazine fashion spreads and 15 runway shows. Hell, probably more than even that! Sitting at an autograph convention for a weekend pulls in more money than a month or more of nonstop modeling gigs.
My ex used to tell me “KNOW YOUR PECKING ORDER!” while condescending and shitty for a partner to tell you that, I KNEW it in the fashion world. I was the bottom of the barrel. However, Ken Mok, the REAL creator of Top Model (Tyra thought it up, he made that shit happen) had said it best. “Adrianne is reality tv GOLD”. That is why I was picked. If left up to Tyra, I never would have made the finals of top model. I was choosen because people would relate/want to watch me on tv. I was not chosen because I was an obvious “model”. I wasn’t, I am not. I have said before how I lost myself in a toxic situation, etc. There are blogs up about my journey to finding who I am again, so I wont trouble you with my rise, fall and rise again.
I do not regret NOT chasing the dragon of modeling once released from my chains. I did a few jobs just for exposure (certainly not for pay!) whilst doing the tv thing. I LOVED to model I REALLY enjoyed it. However, if you REALLY enjoy your job but cannot pay your bills even when you work 15 hours a day, you MUST upgrade. Had I did the model thing, I wouldnt be where I am today. If I was sent to Hong Kong I may have never met my husband now. Things worked out exactly how they were meant to. I wouldn’t have been able to fly my friends and family around and treat them to amazing things! I was able to do for my family what I had always wanted to. It took a lot of elbow grease and a different path. Sure, I have regrets (looking like an adiot on tv, anyone? lol), but that is what life is all about. I learned from my mistakes. Now, I was able to parlay that fame into a new career that is FAR less stressful and way more rewarding. I don’t live in fear anymore. I don’t have to go to therapy JUST because I can’t handle people stalking me with cameras. I paved my way to where I am through trial and error. I have no bitterness, anger, nothing toward what I may have once viewed as major letdowns.
I am grateful for it all. The pain,the fear, the successes, and most importantly, LEARNING. Money may be options, and I could have continued to have MANY MANY more….but at what cost? My soul? It certainly did not buy happiness. Happiness is earned, and I hit my jackpot.