Each week, we take the time to highlight one of our favorite emerging models. Last week, we profiled Demy de Vries
and this week we're turning our attention to American model Tess Richardson.
Scouted at a basketball game, the New Jersey native is on her way to becoming an industry darling with a promising career. Currently, in school working towards a degree in Nutrition Sciences and Health Coaching, she's a total overachiever. Incredibly versatile, she fits the bill for a strong, all-American beauty. While she may not technically be considered all that 'new,' the combination of Brooke Shields-worthy eyebrows and laid-back, tomboyish appeal is bound to have major designers smitten with her. We caught up with her to talk about her career so far, her passion for modeling and her plans for the future.
Hometown: Flemington, New Jersey
Have you always wanted to be a model? If not, what did you want to be growing up?
No, I didn't always want to be a model growing up. I actually played basketball since I was very young and thought I would end up playing in the WNBA. I was always super tall and did so many different sports, modeling never crossed my mind until I got scouted.
How were you scouted?
I was scouted at a basketball game, of course! I was 14 and my Spanish teacher Nathan Marion (now a model scout but at that time teaching) asked my parents if I ever thought about it. At that point, I was a 5'11, 14-year-old and naturally a stick, so it made sense that he would want to submit me. My now mother agency, Vision Los Angeles, decided to take me on and develop me because I was so young. They have been with me ever since!
How would you describe yourself as a model in three words?
Strong, fun, curious
Your first modeling job?
My first modeling job was actually for wedding dresses. It was hilarious! I was 14 with dorky braces and my mom had to come with me. Somehow, they made me from that into a 30-year-old bride. The magic of hair and makeup! We still look back at those pictures and laugh because I was such a baby. Definitely, a fun way to get introduced into the industry.
What is your favorite or most exciting aspect about being a model?
The most exciting aspect of modeling is being able to travel and meet new people. I am so interested in different cultures and seeing how other people live. Sometimes when you are living in one place for too long you forget that there is so much of the world to see. Traveling and meeting so many different types of people just opens your eyes and really changes you as a person.
What is your dream shoot/campaign?
My dream shoot would take place in an exotic location like the middle of Africa or a beautiful desert with fun clothes and animals all around. I've always had a desire to experience Africa.
What's the best life advice you've ever received?
The best life advice I actually receive on a daily basis from both my parents. They are always reminding me to stay present in the moment. My dad loves to think he is Buddha. Whenever I'm getting worked up about something, he reminds me that there is nothing but the moment you are living right now. Enjoying what you have and being happy every day is so important, but not always easy!
How do you define success?
For me, success is never about money. Right now, I am reading the book Game Changers by Dave Asprey, which is a condensed version of the hundreds of hours of information he has gathered over the years from the top performers in the world. The most successful people almost never say that money is what defines their success. It is always about how many lives they have changed or the companies they have built and the impact they are having on the world. If I can impact people's lives in a positive way than that is success to me.
How do you stay in shape?
I probably have done every workout known to man, so to stay in shape I am always mixing it up. Some days I'll do Muay Thai kickboxing and the next I'll be doing Ashtanga yoga. Like everything else, it is about balance and listening to your body! Just try new things and find what you enjoy.
What does fashion mean to you?
Fashion never meant much to me growing up. I didn't really think about it until the last few years. I have grown to really appreciate it now though and see the art in the pieces. It is such an amazing creative outlet and I view it like moving paintings and drawings. It's cool to try on clothes that are so intricate and see the detail and time it took to make it.
How would you describe your style?
When I was younger, I was definitely a tomboy and always wearing sweats to school. That has changed thankfully, and I play a lot more with style now. I still find myself keeping it very simple though. Black takes up 95% of my wardrobe and I like minimal things so I can mix and match it easily. I like throwing a crazy colored coat or pair of shoes on sometimes to spice it up though.
What's been your biggest OMG moment to date?
A couple years back I was doing a hair and makeup test at the Vogue offices in NYC and they were like 'Okay let's go get this approved by Anna'. We went into Anna Wintour's office and stood there while she looked over everything. I'm pretty sure I didn't breathe for 5 minutes. It was such an intense moment. I felt like I was in the movie The Devil Wears Prada! So cool to be able to meet her and stand in the office where it all happens.
What is your guilty pleasure?
My guilty pleasure is and forever will be CHOCOLATE. Can't live without it.
If you had to be head to toe in one designer brand for the rest of your life, which would it be?
Does All Saints count? I love that brand. So simple and comfy!
Denim or leather?
Leather for sure. Black and more black, please!
Heels or flats?
Flats. Although I am always wearing booty heels because I love being abnormally tall.
Vintage or contemporary fashion?
Vintage. Always. Especially in NYC.
If you were an emoji, which would you be and why?
I would be the little monkey emoji, just sitting there chilling. I don't know why he's just my favorite.
What are some feminine qualities you admire?
I don't know if this is a feminine quality, but I admire women who are not afraid to say what is on their mind. There is an amazing movement of women speaking up about all areas of life. It's is something that is so powerful and necessary. I also admire women who are so confident in themselves and don't care what anyone thinks or says. It's amazing!
What's on your playlist right now?
Black Coffee and RUFUS DU SOL.
Describe a scenario that makes you feel absolute bliss
The most blissful I feel is actually when I am just with someone I care about, and we order a bunch of amazing food and just sit for hours talking. It's so simple, but when I'm in those moments there is nowhere, I would rather be. I really love deep talks and good food :)
When you're not busy modeling, what are some of your favorite things to do?
I am a health and wellness geek! When I am not modeling, I am always listening to podcasts (Bulletproof, Lewis Howes and Impact Theory are my favorites right now), reading self-improvement books or working out. I also really enjoy sitting in coffee shops writing or meeting up with friends. I like to stay busy for sure.
What are you working on now and what do you dream of happening in the future?
Right now, I am actually in school working towards a degree in Nutrition Sciences and Health Coaching. My goal and dream is to start a company that will fight against the obesity epidemic and help people live healthier lives. It is a huge issue right now especially in America, and around the world. I really think there is room to make a big impact. Like I said before I am a geek when it comes to things like biohacking, health studies and new information on all thing's health and wellness. This is definitely something I am really passionate about and am already pursuing.
Thank you, Tess, for this amazing interview!
Intro & Interview by Clinton Gonsalvez
Special Thanks to Negeva Norval-Dogra @ Model Management (Hamburg, Germany).
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