When I was growing up, my basketball coaches from Kindergarten through 8th grade were accustomed to my laugh. What does that mean? Well, I laugh. A lot. All the time. More than I should. When I'm nervous, uncomfortable, and sad even, I can be found laughing. Most of the time my coaches would laugh too. Maybe because it made them uncomfortable. However, I think it was more so because of the fact that even in the most high-stress moments of the game, I gave them a release. A reason to lighten up! When I played basketball in high school, those coaches didn't get it quite as easily as those who knew me from childhood. I was benched for laughing. Questioned for smiling. "Do you think this is funny?!" I was yelled at. In my head I responded, "Yes, actually. This is high school basketball and you're about to have an aneurysm." but on the outside, I just turned bright fucking red and said nothing.
One time, I had taken a one-handed hook shot that I had been working on, mid-laugh, from the top of the key. My coach screamed for a timeout practically mid-release. 1- Because it was a ridiculous shot. 2- You do NOT take a one-handed hook shot from the top of the key. And 3- because I was laughing at a time when we were down a few points with only a minute left in the the 4th quarter (a high-stress situation).
To his surprise, as well as mine, I banked the shot. It went right in.
The time-out was taken and our team ran into the huddle. My coach was laughing. Mid-chuckle he said, "you are so fucking lucky you made that", then added, "otherwise you'd be benched for the whole season". And from that point on, he got it. He understood me. Later, he told me that when he first saw me play, he thought I didn't take the game seriously. Though, after a couple of seasons he came to realize that I was just always uncontrollably laughing. That I was sort of spastic and uncontrollable in general. He nicknamed me "The Big O", because of this. But also because I was big. I loved the nickname. It stuck.
In college, I came to find "The Big O" was a term that magazines typically used to refer to an orgasm. This made me laugh even more.
This tendency to laugh at all times has stayed with me. I have found that within my modeling career, it has helped tremendously. Photographers like when you are comfortable laughing "candidly". Most of the time they ask for it and I'm glad that it comes naturally to me. But also, people in this industry can be really fucking rude and if you can't find a reason to laugh at them, it'll be a lot harder to survive.
Recently on a test shoot, the photographer said to me "you tend to do that a lot", referring to my abrupt laughter. I explained to him that usually when I'm on a shoot I have this overwhelming realization that my life is very strange. A realization that I am actually physically modeling in front of a camera, for a company or brand, and that people actually paid to have me here, and just the thought of this alone, makes me laugh. Mainly because never in my wildest dreams did I think that this is what I would be doing in life. Even on a test shoot, where the photos are simply for my portfolio, I can't help it. I seem to always be astounded by the concept of time and how our lives play out in the way that they do. Especially mine.
I don't want people to think that I don't take this job seriously. Because I do! I'm a hard worker and I intend to one day develop my own brand, whatever that may be! Nevertheless, I also don't want people to glorify me or the work that I do. This may be problematic for my future intentions to develop a brand, but I'm okay with that. I have received messages from people asking how did I obtain such confidence, wishing they looked like me, and other messages of the sort. While I'm humbled by these messages, they make me sad. I love that people can look up to me. But I want it to be because of who I am. Not because of the way I look.
So, because of all this, I made an Instagram page called @howtomodel. It's my way of dealing with the seriousness of this industry. But also a way for me to share with those who seem to glorify this profession, that it's not all glitz an glamour. It's my way of exemplifying that even with professional lighting, photography, hair, and makeup, a professional model can still get her ugly on. I showed the page to my Mom and she was confused, "Livi, that's not attractive don't post that one!" (cue her @newyorkmoms accent). Confusion sparks a conversation. I like it! I showed my younger cousin and she asked if this was my "finstagram". Which is a thing that has been happening that I wasn't aware of. So I guess, yes, this is my Finstagram! I'm hip. The only difference between my Finstagram and the more popular usage of teen girls Finstagramming is that mine is public. Which makes me a badass Finstagram connoisseur. Or it just makes me really lame. Either way, I hope my posts make you laugh. Check them out: www.instagram.com/howtomodel