“Your eyes will show emotion regardless of the rest of the face.”
To begin with, tell us a bit about yourself please. I’ll start by introducing myself, my name is Sabrina, my “stage/model” name would be Sabrina Rai which is just my first and middle name. I grew up in a really small town called Altavista, Virginia. I am a mom of 5, yes I said 5. I have 2 girls and 3 boys. I love modeling and love photography but if I had to choose a profession it would be writing. I write poetry and short stories and absolutely love the way it makes the imagination run. I enjoy cooking for my family and friends and do so as often as I can. My family is what means most to me. I lost my sister to cancer 2 years ago. I had very long hair and donated my hair in her memory to children with hair loss about 6 months after she passed. I had no idea the following summer I myself would be diagnosed with uterine cancer. It has been a long road to becoming healthy again. This past year has been my year to express my joy and sadness through art and modeling.
How did it happen that you became a model? Do you remember your very first photo-session? I did my first pageant when I was 9 and got second place. I as long as I can remember have wanted to model. My first shoot was when I was 14 in preparation for a teen pageant and I was submitting photos for the “most photogenic” competition. The photographer was a friend of my moms named William and he owned “peach tree photography”. I often wonder where he is now honestly because he not only did my first “real” photo shoot but it was all done in film and he then showed me the dark room and how they were developed. He sparked my intrigue with the art of picture taking.
What would you say are the biggest perks of being a model? I wouldn’t say there are perks really. It’s very hard. I feel more often than not I am scrutinized. A lot of people assume it’s easy and you just have to be pretty and thin but that is not at all the case. It takes practice and confidence and imagination and so many things. Just because someone thinks your “model material” does not mean you would make a good model. It takes a lot of hard work. I will say one of my perks personally has been teaching new models or other women in shoots to just be comfortable and relax and get the most amazing photos.
What is going through your mind when you’re modeling in front of the camera? “Don’t laugh don’t laugh” any photographer that has worked with me knows I am just a dork. I love to have fun and I make silly faces and I talk ALOT! It also depends on my mood and what I am presently going through. I did a photo shoot the week my grandmother passed and another the day my sister passed. Those shoots I look back on and I know my thoughts were flooded with grief and I feel certain photos reflect that. I have other shoots I was absolutely ecstatic and relaxed and joyful. Your eyes will show emotion regardless of the rest of the face.
Something that most people don’t know about models is that we . . . EAT! Haha I do anyway. I love food. Also that it is such hard work! It takes endurance to hold a pose a certain way or to repeatedly go back to a pose or to move fluidly through poses without looking stiff and unnatural.
How would you define beauty? Beauty is found within, it is very rare I do not meet people I think are beautiful and the most ugly people I have ever met are “aesthetically pleasing” but their attitude and hearts are ugly to the core. I believe beauty radiates and if you think someone is “ugly” the. Maybe your seeing a reflection of your own heart. All I know is “beauty” is in every single person that smiles back at me when I smile at them.
Do you feel photoshop has created a skewed perception of the ideal body image? Of course it has! It bugs me to no end to meet a “model” and she looks nothing and I mean nothing like her photos! Bad skin not fit and her photos shows porcelain skin and a toned waist line. It’s changed the art of photography. I believe the less photoshop the less work and the more art! I do my best to be the model that requires little to no photoshop. I have done shoots with NO makeup and simple attire and produced some of my best work.
How do you keep your confidence up? What advice would you give to a girl who is body conscious? I am insecure, all girls are, if they say they aren’t in some way well, that shows they really are. I know my flaws, I have learned how to draw attention from them. I would tell a girl “what is your favorite part?” If it’s her eyes then do some WOW makeup if it’s her legs well let’s show those babies off! It’s about knowing what you love and drawing attention away from what you don’t. I have learned to be very comfortable with my body and it has changed a lot through the years, I appreciate my body more now at 30 than I ever have!
Do you have an exercise regime to keep you in shape? What’s your beauty regimen like? Do you have any beauty secrets or products you swear by? Wow this is going to hurt, I do not workout regularly. Insert uncomfortable facial expression. I have been sick this last year and I have not been able to lift like I used to. I want to and I will but for now I eat healthy I stay active I love playing with my kids and that is what works for me for now. Beauty products I swear by, coconut oil is your best friend! Coconut oil and baking soda to wash your face, coconut oil as a makeup remover, coconut oil as a hair and skin conditioner, everything is coconut oil and red lipstick I love lipstick!
What tips and advice do you have for aspiring models just starting out, something you wish someone would have told you? Don’t believe what someone’s version of beauty is and never do ANYTHING that makes YOU uncomfortable! Please don’t! I had an awful experience, a photographer wanted me to model, nude, I was not ready I was not wanting to, he yelled at me told me I would never make it as a model told me I was a prude. NO just NO he was a rude jerk. I get told all the time I don’t “show” enough on social media or elsewhere but it’s just not my style. So do what makes YOU happy whatever that is and I promise it will work out how it should!
Have you had anything funny, embarrassing or completely out of the ordinary happen during your modeling career? I was doing a maternity shoot with another friend of mine (also pregnant) we were doing an artsy collaboration with a photographer friend and we got to laughing so hard I peed myself, yeah seriously. We were in a creek, thank god, but I just remember I had to pee, I’m 8 or so months pregnant and something hilarious happened and I laughed so hard. To be honest I don’t think they realized what I did, but yeah I did. I just laughed harder honestly, what was I going to do in the middle of no where.
If you could have any model as your mentor for a day, who would it be and why? I would say Betty Davis because I loved her, she was a silly classic beauty that just did what she wanted, regardless of what others thought at the time. But if I really could have someone for just a day today it would be Heidi Klum. She is a beautiful mother and has developed her own sense of style and she’s funny so I think we would have fun hanging out.
What is something you haven’t achieved but hope to in the future? I would love to have an agency or agent sign me and gain more work, it would be incredible to work with a company that saw potential in my work and who I am.
Is there anything you would change about the modeling industry if you could? Why? Height restriction! I’m 5’7″ and have been told repeatedly I’m too short! I just don’t get it, I’m good at what I do and I work hard what does an inch or two have to do with the fact that I rock! Just saying.
Where can readers see more of your works and get connected with you?
What are your thoughts around social media? Do you feel social media has helped your career? It’s done both. Helped and hurt it. I meet new people which has spiked work but I also have people that don’t like me, they message and make rude comments, other women that aren’t so nice. It’s hard but there is no way around it in this decade. We live in a social media world and I do feel I get much more positive than negative when I look at the possibility of being a positive influence in someone’s life. If I can brighten one persons day then it’s all worth it.
Do you have other ambitions outside of modeling? I write. Not as often as I would like but still often. I also vape which I consider my hobby as well as my job and I have met so many new people. I also collect tattoos haha I love art and love having these pieces that mean so much to me. It’s a story and I’m open to discuss every piece to any one that wants to know.
What is the last book you’ve read? To be honest it was “oh the places you’ll go” by Dr Seuss. It’s truly enlightening, but seriously I have 5 children. That is the extent of my reading. Sounds bad to some but it is my entire world and that is one of our favorite books!
What superpower do you wish you had? Why? I wish I had the power to become invisible, I like to people watch, how awesome would it be to sit and watch strangers without them seeing you watch them. That sounds creepy, but you asked.
One thing that bugs you about humans is that…? They are cruel, we have so much to live for and love and people forget how short our lives are, or how quickly it can be taken. I just don’t see how people can not love more deeply and be at peace. I know I sound like a hippie but I just wish people weren’t so mean to others. My oldest child, a girl, is in middle school we discuss weekly about how mean kids are and it’s hard to see her hurt. Being cruel has devastating long term affects, I still deal with issues from people being cruel to me.
What is one thing that you’re obsessed with that people might be surprised to learn? Anything vintage, shops, shoes, clothes, artwork. My great grandmother always said I had an old soul, we agreed I was born in the wrong era because I absolutely love old music and old movies and old comedy and just anything vintage and classic. Antique shops and dusty old books.