At just 14 years old, Gisele Fox was determined to pursue modeling. She found an agency in Seattle, but had a difficult time finding a job for the first nine months.
“I have an androgynous, high fashion look,” she said. “I am not a good fit for companies like Nordstrom or Eddie Bauer. I’m not the classic long-haired, blond beauty. I have more of an edgy appearance.”
Eager to make money for college, Gisele knew that she would have to expand her reach beyond Seattle. She approached her agency about sending her portfolio to modeling agencies around the globe. She was hoping one of those countries would offer to host her for the summer. Several companies responded back that they wanted to stay in touch.
“To hear back from an agency anything other than ‘no’ or nothing at all is quite a positive response,” she said.
But even better, one of the agencies offered to fly her out for Fashion Week the following February.
“It was so crazy,” said Gisele. “My mom was able to come with me. I was 15 when we left, and I turned 16 while we were traveling. I did the Milan and Paris Fashion Week. It was so exciting and really fascinating being exposed to the heart beat of the fashion culture.”
When Gisele returned from Fashion Week, she moved to Tokyo on her own for two months during the summer.
“I wanted to get more experience and make some money while doing it,” she said. “Working in Tokyo was an incredible opportunity.”
When Gisele returned from Tokyo, she was intent on continuing to pursue her modeling career.
“I flew with my Seattle agency to New York to find an international modeling rep,” she said. “It turns out, all of the top modeling agencies wanted to sign me! I had the opportunity to choose from the best agencies in the world.”
Gisele settled on one of the smaller, boutique agencies. She liked the fact that they supported her school schedule and wanted her to thrive academically. She felt like they valued her as a human being and that her needs as a person came first.
Not long after that, her modeling career completely took off in New York where her first show was with Calvin Klein. This is about the time Gisele realized she would need to find an online school.
“After that it got a little crazy because I was named one of the top break-out stars of the season, which was completely surreal,” she said. “I closed the Prada show at Fashion Week, which means I was the last one to walk on the stage. That’s a major opportunity, especially if you’re a newcomer, and I also got two pretty big campaigns for both Coach and Prada.”
Gisele was traveling outside of Seattle for more than six months that year. But she was still able to keep up with her academic work as a full-time student at Apex Learning Virtual School.
“The flexibility of the curriculum was incredible,” she said. “My modeling career was a roller coaster ride, but ALVS helped to keep me on track academically and prepare me for college courses while I was working and traveling.”
Gisele graduated from ALVS last December. Not long before that, she decided to resign from her agency and quit modeling. She immediately signed up for a drama class at Seattle Central College, and now she is taking a full course load at Seattle Central.
“I’m liking every single class, and I’m just hoping to get my acceptance letter to the University of Washington soon,” she said. “My plan is to pursue a career in computer programing or informatics.”
When Gisele thinks about her unique life experiences at such a young age, she doesn’t have any regrets. But she does question whether or not she should have quit modeling earlier.
“I had lunch with my old agent the other day,” she said. “When I was in the industry (and modeling), I didn’t realize how deep the brainwashing goes. It really reaffirmed my decision to move on. When I started modeling seriously at 16, I was able to eat pretty normally for my age. But at 18, things started changing. I had all of these adults telling me what I could and couldn’t do when it came to eating and working out and taking care of my body.”
But Gisele is also grateful for the direction and clarity modeling has provided her life.
“Despite the negatives, my modeling experiences really helped to give me a clear understanding of the Instagram vs. reality of it all. No one is having that much fun. They are just smiling for the picture and moving on with their life. I’m really grateful for that perspective. It helps to focus on what I want to do and not let false illusions cloud my version of reality. When I look to my future, I couldn’t be more excited about what’s still yet to come.”