“The most challenging part of being a model is the uncertainty and the unknown. You are not guaranteed to work.” – Shannon Hughes
Welcome to Face Time. DFW Style Daily’s exclusive series goes beyond the runways and picture-perfect shoots to get to know top Dallas models on a personal level. Why?
Boasting top tier agencies, producers, retailers, and shows, the Dallas market is emerging as a fashion force to be reckoned with on the national scene. And, as our interviews with Carlotta Lennox, Myles Crosby, Donny Boaz, Lexi Russell, Sirisha Reddy, and many more prove, Dallas-based models are among the most fascinating and accomplished in the country.
Today, we’ll meet Shannon Hughes, a hometown beauty with a client roster that reads like a who’s who in fashion and retail. But she hasn’t let success go to her head. Read on to learn how Shannon strikes a work-life balance, and why the support of her family keeps her grounded while navigating the unpredictable waters of the modeling world.
DFW Style Daily: At what age did you begin modeling? Were you discovered, or did you pursue this field as a career?
Shannon Hughes: “I started modeling at the young age of 16. My parents were always supportive of me following my dreams, so they took me to one of those scouting conventions you hear about on the radio or TV (although I do not recommend them). From there, I was scouted and sent to Athens, Greece, by myself at 16. I think it was the hardest time ever for my parents, but it was a great opportunity. I look back, and feel really lucky to have had that experience. When I came back from Greece, I signed with a Dallas agency, and started my junior year of high school.”
Name a surprising fact about the modeling industry, something the average reader might not know.
“All models say this, but it is not as glamorous as everyone thinks. It is not about you; it is about the product you are selling. You have to learn to be tough, and not take comments personally. It is a hurry-up and wait game. You can’t sit down, because you will wrinkle the clothes, and no, we do not get to keep any of the clothes we wear, either.”
What is the most challenging aspect of your job?
“The most challenging part of being a model is the uncertainty and the unknown. You are not guaranteed to work. You can be really busy one month, but really slow the next. It is also difficult to make plans and set a schedule, because often a job becomes available at the last minute. …And don’t even get me started on self-employment taxes!”
What is the craziest, silliest, or most unusual thing you have done on an assignment?
“My first job was a runway show in Athens, where I had to go on stage and have my hair cut by someone who did not speak English. I had no idea what they were going to do! Luckily my haircut turned out ok; other models were not so lucky. I also once did a swimsuit shoot inside a freezer. I had to sit on ice, but luckily, I am hot-natured, so I survived!”
Have you ever held a job outside the modeling world? What lessons did you learn from the experience?
“My first non-modeling job was at Express at Town East Mall. I learned to respect your surroundings, and to respect the hard work each sales associate puts into folding that stack of sweaters. To this day, I hate messing up folded tables in stores. If I change my mind on something, I always try to refold it the way they did. I am a huge advocate for respecting others and using manners.”
Do you have a personal role model? What have you learned from his or her example?
“Professionally, I looked to Kathy Ireland and Kim Alexis as great role models. Kathy is always a very composed, respectful, and not to mention beautiful, woman who has turned her modeling career into a very successful enterprise. Both women were also part of a modeling era when girls were beautiful, and actually had curves, before the ‘90s-era skinny chic became popular.
“Personally, my parents are my role models. They are the example of how I want to live my life. Not only did they tell me how I should behave and act, but they showed me how to live my life as a Christian woman, have a great marriage, and be the person I am today. My mother is such a giving person who is always there when I need her. Growing up, she worked full time, but always had a home-cooked dinner on our table, and was there to play Barbies with me or read me a book. My dad has the most patience of anyone I know. You ask him for a favor, and he is there – no questions asked. I have been truly blessed to have two wonderful, loving parents!”
Speaking of marriage, how long have you been married? Care to share any secrets to maintaining a healthy balance between work and home life?
“I have been married for almost nine years to my high school sweetheart. I can’t believe it has been so long! …Where has the time gone?
“We both have busy schedules, and one of the most important things for us is to be supportive of the other. My husband is an orthopedic surgeon, so he may perform surgery at night or on the weekends, and even on holidays. When he has had a long day, the main thing he needs from me is support. I don’t get upset with him because we had to change our plans, or he missed dinner, and he does the same thing for me. I have been modeling throughout our whole relationship, and he has always supported me. If you don’t have the support at home, it makes your professional life much more difficult.”
Would you ever consider plastic surgery? Why or why not?
“I have not considered plastic surgery. This is how I look. If a client does not like the way I look, then the next one may. We all have something that makes us unique. I have gaps in my teeth, like the famous model Lauren Hutton, and was told to not get them fixed because it makes me different. Who knows what the future holds, but no surgery for now.”
Finally, when you’re not working, how might you spend a free afternoon or evening in Big D?
“When I am not working, you can find me taking my dog, Skittles, for walks in our neighborhood or along the Katy Trail. I love to sew, so I could be at a sewing class at Urban Spools. We also love going to some of our favorite restaurants: Perry’s, Uncle Julio’s, or Kirby’s Woodfire. But, one of my favorite things to do is get together with our friends at home for a Game Night!”
All photos, courtesy of Shannon Hughes.