Name: Gwen Van Meir
Agency: Next Models
Birthdate: May 19, 1999
Hometown: Atlanta, Georgia
How’d you start modeling?
I had always wanted to be a model when I was younger, but it wasn’t until I was scouted at a Justin Bieber concert (at age 13) that I really took it more seriously. After doing more research, I signed with my mother agent (Factor-Chosen Atlanta) and then about a year-and-a-half later, I joined the Next worldwide network.
Who/ what are your biggest inspirations?
I had a teacher in middle school who taught a class on race/class/gender. His words have stayed with me, and because of him I have a low tolerance for social injustices. He inspired me because I think the modeling industry is an example of where we as a society need to make changes (in terms of racial and body diversity).
Favorite modeling experience, so far & why?
My first international trip was to Tokyo. It was such an incredible experience — I fell in love with the culture! For me, it was like New York x10!
Tell us some of your modeling goals. Any particular brands you’d love to model for?
I’m going to turn 18 in May, and then I’ll be based in New York! I would love to model for brands like Victoria’s Secret, Guess, and also do more high fashion editorials — but my ultimate goal is to get a major beauty or hair campaign. I also want to continue what I’m doing now, which is traveling to lots of places for work!
What are some of your favorite beauty products?
Honestly, I don’t wear a lot of makeup unless I’m working. I like to use natural products on my face like coconut oil to hydrate my skin and keep it glowy!
We know you’ve gotta take care of your figure, but what’s your favorite “cheat meal”?
Back in Georgia, sometimes, I’ll just crave some comfort food from the Waffle House, late at night. Their pecan waffles are my fav!!
What are you listening to at the moment?
I’ve been recently listening to Ariana Grande.
Favorite TV show/ movie?
Honestly, I’ve had several Netflix/TV show addictions — but the latest was Scandal, and I’m having a hard time waiting until the next season comes out!!
What’s your biggest pet peeve & why?
One of my pet peeves is when people from the past (who were not really my friends) contact me saying that we should “hang out.” I like people who are real, and have little tolerance for superficiality.
Something you love to do in your spare time?
I love doing crafts, drawing, re-decorating my room, and basically anything creative.
Tell us a fun fact about yourself!
Once, when I was in 5th grade, this boy drew a picture in the sand of a girl with a unibrow, and then told me it was supposed to be me. Not long after that, I felt embarrassed about my eyebrows and when I went home, I took my sister’s razor and shaved down the middle. I tried to be slick about it, but my parents noticed right away, and made me promise never to do that again!
What valuable lessons have you learned from the industry, thus far? Any advice for other aspiring models?
I’ve learned not to take rejection too seriously. I used to be super shy, but after I really started working with people, I became confident with myself. I’ve also had to become really organized, and balance my time between school and modeling trips. There are many people who want to take advantage of models (club promoters for one) so I make sure to stay healthy and keep grounded, and avoid anything that will derail me from my goals. My advice to aspiring models would be to not to do anything extreme to their bodies, and to be the healthiest version of themselves.