I had the lovely opportunity to meet up with model and Instagram influencer, Brit Watkins on the playgrounds of Manhattan. Most known for her fabulous hair, Brit knows all the ins and outs of the Instagram influencer life making her this week's #OneToWatch. With a strong liking for photography, a majority of her photos posted online are taken by herself and some with the help of her boyfriend, Ben...who shocker...they met online! Read the rest of our conversation below.
Photography by @craigfosterphotography / Interview by: @Briecastel
Brielle: At what age did you get into modeling and how?
Brit: I got into modeling when I was about nineteen. I didn’t go to college, I went right into modeling. And I’m an only child too so that was even more interesting. I was in a modeling contest for Ford. It was the Ford Supermodel of the World contest. Sounds terrible, but that’s what it was. It was in Chicago. My grandmother took me to the open call that happened in Michigan. I was one of the nineteen finalists. I didn’t win but I signed with Ford. And then when I was with Ford, they connected me with APM Models in New York. So now they sent me to go-sees and everything. At first I was with Ford here in New York but it was just too many people.
I’ve been in New York for a decade now modeling. I’m actually a genuine New Yorker now!
Brielle: What does your life look like on a daily basis?
Brit: I like to listen to music. Right now, I’m really into Bruno Mars. I already preordered his album. I got so excited about his song 24K that I was just like “bring it, I don’t care what the other stuff is. I just want to move and dance”. I listen to a lot of remixes on SoundCloud. I like looking up a song like from the 90s and seeing a billion versions of that song. I like to workout, I like to shoot, I like photography, I like to eat, research things online, and read. I am always trying to take things in. I like hanging out with friends, I like what I’m doing with the social stuff. Traveling is like my favorite thing in the whole world. You know what, I had no idea. I haven’t really gone anywhere before I met Ben, my boyfriend. I renewed my passport, the last one I had had like no stamps in it. The only stamp I had in it was Canada, and when I met him that’s when I started to really travel so now I have the bug. Now I want to do it all the time.
Brielle: That’s awesome! It’s always good to get away. So your job is based on a lot of social media, do you have a favorite thing about your job? Or a least favorite?
Brit: Gosh, that is always different. I like meeting different people all the time. And seeing the idea of a shoot's concept come together, I like that there’s a vision. So many people are there trying to make that vision, the idea, and seeing a concept come together. I love the art aspect of it, the shooting, the photography. Watching people in their passion, the creative director or the photographer or them setting up a shoot and lighting and all of that stuff is interesting to me. As for my least favorite, sometimes it can be a bit dehumanizing with them touching you. Like “go here”, “do this”, “do that”. You have to be a happy kind of person because it’s a lot of pull. That’s probably my least favorite thing. Or the rejection when you really think you’re going to get a job and they’re like actually...no. That stinks. That’s why they usually don’t tell us. Like they try to keep things under wraps and then if you have it they’ll tell you. And some girls have had some mean experiences. Like when I first started and I was sending out my pictures to certain agencies, like yeah “your chins too pointy” or, “you smile weird”. And I was like “okayy, I’m young I don’t need to hear that”. But sometimes people can be critical. The critics are hard sometimes. You’re like “I’m a grown woman and you got people talking to you like you’re a child”. It’s a part of the job but after a while you kinda detach. You get used to it.
Brielle: Is that the worst thing you have had someone say about you? That your chin is too pointy?
Brit: Yeah, when she said that to me she said it over the phone and then she kinda laughed. That laugh, I think that laugh was probably the worst part of it. Because I felt so mocked. So I was just like, "okay." I mean, I understand if you don’t want to sign me, just tell me you aren’t going to sign me. But that was more than mean, it was rude. The weird thing is it was almost like it was a discouragement not trying to get me to do it. Like how things come at you sometimes to test you. But when I got in, people didn’t say things like that to me. They might have said “we need some different things in your book”. It was stuff that I can work with or change. Actually, when I first started off, I tried a different agency, I think in Ohio or something like that. My parents and grandparents were always driving me to just try. The agency told me to lose weight and I actually did. I think I lost like 15 pounds because I was bigger and I dropped the weight and then they were like “oh, she actually did this, she’s actually serious about this”. So if you can tell me something constructive about “you need to tone up, you need to change your hair color” these things I can do. I can’t do anything about my face. Like my face is my face, the face that god gave me. Like what do you want me to do? But like I said, after a while though, it’s amazing. We get so strong.
Brielle: Over the summer Elle wrote an article about you and they talk about the time you realized you should embrace your natural curls instead of trying to straighten your hair all the time. What advice would you give someone in a similar situation?
Brit: So, I’ve always liked my natural curls but when I was a kid, I just wanted that long hair. I just really wanted it to look flowy like a princess. But, after a while, my parents and family kind of encouraged me saying “it looks good, it looks good”...eventually I just thought it looked good curly. I'm glad I had that encouragement growing up. It’s good to have people around you who are saying positive things about it. I like to think... it’s the stuff that’s growing out of your head. So it can’t be that wrong. Whatever texture you have, go along with it. At least try it. In the beginning of modeling it was different. It was very like “oh, we need to straighten it out so she looks like the other girls in the shoot." If I booked a fashion show, I would have to flow with everyone else. I couldn’t just be there curly, but now it’s getting embraced way more. I get asked to straighten my hair way less. They just like the texture. Most of the time that I go on set, it’s like “oh she’s good”. And they put me right out to shoot. It’s so easy. They barely touch me, they touch the hair, they fluff it a little bit and just leave it alone.
Brielle: Do you have any products that you swear by?
Brit: Yeah, actually. I’m a Shea Moisture girl and I’m also into DevaCurl. But this company, Briogeo, it’s amazing. And it’s probably 98% natural products. It’s insane. I bought three things from Sephora...I get a lot of free stuff so if I buy something, I love it. If I’m spending money you best believe I love it. It’s incredible. Their oils are really good and they just started a specific line for curly, and for waves and straight hair. They all cater to different hair types without the bad stuff in it. I have one that’s an oil so that’s for the shine. The other one is a volumizing spray that I really like that has biotin in it, so it plumps the hair a little bit. But yeah you can’t go wrong with this shape. If you’re trying to save money...Deva gels, curl gels are really good. I’m finding a lot of times when I’m talking to girls they're like “well I’m in college, I don’t really have the money for this”. Well, it’s almost like you have to give them a scale. Like okay...a drug store. I’m trying to help out. Jane Carter is incredible, she has a product called Incredible Curls that I’ve yet to recommend it to someone who didn’t love it. It’s very moisturizing. I love Bumble and Bumble Hairdresser's Invisible Oil line. It’s really good. So insane. It’s like magic in a bottle. It’s so good. This stuff is so good for shine. The primer spray is insane. That’s another one, right before you blow dry. It’s not heavy, it’s nice and moisturizing.
Brielle: Well your hair is beautiful, I’m sure you have your haircare routine down for it to look this amazing! Have you booked any gigs or social media campaigns just because of your hair?
Brit: Yes, all the time. I pretty much have worked for just about every curly hair brand. Garnier colored my hair and everything. So, yeah. I’ve worked with quite a bit. Lots of L'oreal stuff, Shea Moisture, I did Creme of Nature print, I did Dark and Lovely...I’m on the box for blonde right now.
Brielle: Has anyone ever crossed the line and say anything connected to racism because of your hair? Or has anyone gone out of line and touched your hair in public without asking?
Brit: If it’s happening it’s subtle, or I’m not aware. Hair stylists use different words to try to be politically correct while their explaining that it can't be so textured or the texture isn't really wanted in this particular shoot. They just go directly to straightening. No one is rude or downright disrespectful toward it, at least from what I know. Like I'm sure it’s happening and that it has happened a lot of times. I try to stay positive and go in and work and do what I was there for. I don't try to pay attention. I get probably more put off when the hand goes right to my hair and I don't know you. People just touch it and grab it. I’m like whoah, personal space...without asking, which will get you swatted. HA.
Brielle: Have you ever thought about drastically changing it up? Like maybe going really short? Or changing the color?
Brit: To be honest, within my career, because I really do love what I do, if someone had a crazy, sick vision, and was like managing me and was like “Brit, this would be great for your career, this would be awesome, this is the kind of stuff you can do, and we had a plan” I would be like heck yeah let’s do it. Or, if I was paid enough, you can cut it. Like to shoulder length. Because I think a pixie or buzz cut would devastate me a little bit. It would be a little much. But like definitely would do something fun. Definitely crazy color. I love color. I’ve been every shade. I’ve been mahogany colors, red colors, brown, I’ve been black, different chocolatey hues, it’s been everything. It’s been blonder than this. I pretty much say now this is my safe spot, but I would definitely experiment. It’s just hard to get your hair back after. It’s all fun and good when you do it but getting it back is a process.
Brielle: That’s fun! Okay, I think we’re done here. Last thing, any life tip or advice that you would like to give to people?
Brit: Yeah! Make sure in life, you find out what it is that you want and refresh...like make sure you have goal and dream refreshers where you take a moment with yourself and write down what it is that you want. It is so good that and developing healthy boundaries with yourself and others is huge and important. I think that when you find out what it is that you stand for and what and where it is that you want to be, you know, “where do I want to be in life? What do I want?” It makes you feel so much more in control. Don't just live life, kinda just free for all, just waiting for things to fall into place. Actively work, with god, the universe, whatever it is you need to work with to be passionate about something. It really shows in your confidence when you have a purpose. Or you have a vision for your life. That’s huge. It’s very attractive, that’s what draws people. Like, find out what you’re here for. And then do it with everything you got, and then all of a sudden one day you look back and you have followers. It’s like I wasn't even trying for this, because you’re trying to do what you’re here for. So find that out and do it with everything you have.