The pressures to fit in and look a certain way can be difficult for pre-teens and teens. Magazines and movies tell us that beauty should be a certain height, with a certain hair color and body shape. Fortunately, this preconceived definition is slowly evolving. Episcopal graduate Brooks Nader ’15 recently made quite a splash on the national modeling scene by winning the Sports Illustrated 2019 model search and the first 2020 Rookie of the Year Award. She is happy to see the industry adjusting to better represent today’s women.
As an Episcopal student, Brooks never considered modeling as a career option. She says she is actually shorter than most models and has what some consider odd measurements for the profession. However, her thoughts about modeling changed one summer in Manhattan. After working hard at Episcopal to get into Tulane, Brooks decided to pursue a summer internship in New York. While in Manhattan, a modeling agent approached Brooks and asked her one simple question – Have you ever considered modeling? Because she wasn’t the formulaic model size, the answer was no. However, the seed had been planted.
After she returned home that fall, the question and the possibility preoccupied her. With much thought and reflection, Brooks decided there was only one way to find out if she could actually make a living as a model – she would go “all in” and relocate to New York. Going “all in” is something that Brooks has long been known for so it was not a stretch for this Baton Rouge girl to simply pack up and move to the country’s largest city. Pursuing such a dream certainly required courage and confidence. Brooks also credits the strong support of her family in helping make her dream a reality. “They were behind me 100%,” she says about the support and belief exhibited by those closest to her.
In just four short years since graduating from Episcopal, Brooks has already experienced so much. National brands such as Cover Girl have enlisted her to represent their products and this summer she appeared in the 2019 Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue alongside the likes of Tyra Banks and Christie Brinkley. She’s learned a lot along the way. Brooks says corporations are now looking for models who carry themselves well and represent their brand in a positive light. “We’re more than a pretty face,” she says. Wisely, Brooks has aligned herself with positive mentors who can guide her through the industry and help foster her career success. She says the Sports Illustrated experience was like being a part of a modeling sisterhood as she worked with her fellow models in a positive and encouraging environment. The opportunity has also opened new career possibilities for her that she is eager to explore. Already she has had a part in a movie starring Sylvester Stallone and while acting may currently be out of her comfort zone, it could be an option in her future.
As her star continues to rise, Brooks also hopes to serve as a mentor and example for young women. She wants pre-teens and teens who can be under so much pressure to have the right hair or the perfect braces to know that those types of concerns are not ultimately what matters. She says at such a young age they should not have a care in the world. As organizations such as Sports Illustrated and other top brands continue to redefine the traditional model by casting all types of people, the hope is that young girls can appreciate and celebrate their own beauty. Brooks says the fact that people who look, act and believe differently are being chosen for such high profile shoots, makes modeling a more rewarding career.
As Brooks thinks about the Episcopal Upper School students who are currently occupying the very desks she sat in not that long ago, she hopes tomorrow’s graduates will have the courage and confidence to chase their dreams no matter what or where that may be. In the meantime, Brooks will continue to go “all in” as she pursues her own dreams.