The America's Next Top Model alum speaks to DX's Beauty & Brains about her devotion to non-profits and helping young girls in need find proper shelters, as well as her ongoing committment to her education.
America's Next Top Model may have launched Bre's modeling career, but it was the Harlem native's written word that has been getting her notice outside of the fashion world. Blogging for Russell Simmons' GlobalGrind.com, Bre has published several commentaries, including one on the way that media and society at large have reacted to the Tiger Woods infidelity scandal.
In addition to writing, Bre is a philanthropist. Through her work with Heart4Kids, a nonprofit organization based in Long Beach, California, she helps raise awareness of human trafficking and teen prostitution.
A self-described “really simple” shopper who loves Marc Jabobs, Bre epitomizes class, beauty all the while representing the hustler mentality that Harlem has long been known for. Call her a model hustler.
Beauty & Brains: What is it about you, your personality and your upbringing that makes you get so involved in non-profits and be so passionate about it? You're in the industry of beauty and vanity, after all.
Bre: I guess if you want to put my background into it, I am from Harlem. I think what I do is beautiful and I think it's glamorous, and I respect and appreciate it, but it's not where I began. I think we forget our past once we take on a different endeavor in life and we forget what our struggle was about before that. For me, especially in my community, I'm a tangible dream. Hollywood is very far away from New York. It's more about me staying and talking to these young kids about their dreams. It only makes my dreams tangible if I come back and talk to them about theirs. That's really why I come back and I talk and continue to help. And I am grateful.
Beauty & Brains: What has this year been like for you in terms of modeling work?
Bre: I started 2010 pretty well. I still have my a national campaign that's out and it's running on television. In February, the Garnier Fructis commercial began airing, that's another national campaign. Right now, I'm just taking it as it comes. I definitely made that transition from just professional modeling into acting, also, I'm working on some projects. I promise you, if I wasn't under a confidentiality agreement, I would be able to tell you more. I hope my fans do see me as professional and not necessarily as a jack-of-all-trades, as someone who hones in on their craft and takes the time to respect it and research and study it, because that's what I have been doing for everything. I hope they see that.
Beauty & Brains: You've published several blogs on Global Grind, including one about Tiger Woods and his infidelity scandal. What sparked you to write about how the media has covered this scandal?
Bre: I try not to be biased because I understand the business aspect of it as far as the media needing a story. They need a paycheck just like everybody else. But, I think that sometimes the media has a tendency to delve into the wrong aspect of a situation. And I'm in no way saying what Tiger [Woods] did is right, but what I don't think is right is to focus on these women, the pregnancy scares, the abortions. We got it, you know? We understand the infidelity about it. I feel everybody needs to be held accountable for their actions in the situations and we really can't make a big deal out of this billionaire's life. It really says about where our priorities as Americans are.
Beauty & Brains: Among the charities you work with is Peace4Kids. What were your reasons in getting involved with this particular non-profit's cause?
Bre: I work for two different non-profit organizations and they all basically have the same goal, which is bringing awareness to human trafficking. Peace4Kids is based out of Long Beach, California. There aren't enough shelters and havens for girls under 18 in California. They have them for 18 and over. For girls who are 11 or 12 years old - there's no place for them to go. What Heart4Kids do is bring these girls together and bring awareness to [their plight]. We start in junior high, high schools and continuation schools, bringing awareness to prostitution and child trafficking. The idea is [that] they can spread the word first for themselves and then among their friends. We take a lot of inner-city kids, from areas such as Long Beach and south Los Angeles.
Beauty & Brains: Can you talk about your experience on America's Next Top Model, the show that essentially launched your career?
Bre: I was 19 when I did Top Model and Tyra [Banks] really spring-boarded my career. [Following ANTM], I appeared on a theme-based reality show and it had to do with career. From there, I was able to find my own fit as a professional model. Then, I chose to work with Tyra, or rather, we chose to work with each other about four years after that. I started working as a correspondent for her show and it really settled [several] things for me. When you watch people like Kimora Lee Simmons and Tyra Banks, these are women who give other people opportunities. You are allowed to make more than one career choice for yourself. I can be a professional model [as well as] a journalist and a philanthropist. Now I have all these hats that I have an opportunity to wear.
Beauty & Brains: How would you describe the image that comes across when people look at your photos?
Bre: As far as video models and video vixens, everyone takes pictures differently, everyone's perceptions of art is different. I have a very artistic eye and I love black-and-white shots and I love things done in such a way that you want to see the message behind the pictures and not just my body. And truthfully, I am not even gonna hold you up, I don't this video vixen body, I am not allowed to. I wouldn't disappoint my fans and put this out like, where's the rest of her? I have to take the pictures that go right for me, for my body and for the image that I come across as. And I love [the DX column name] Beauty & Brains, because in all of my pictures, I want fans to see more than just a pretty girl.
Beauty & Brains: Did you receive a formal education or attend college?
Bre: I dropped out of college to be a model, but now I'm at the University of Phoenix. I do go to class online and my major is psychology. I started in a classroom, in a dorm, I was normal at one point.