Look familiar? You may have seen aspiring model, Helei Amini, in a recent episode of CBS’ “Celebrity Undercover Boss.” We flew her out to LA for a photo shoot (her first ever!) and had the opportunity to learn a little more about her. Read on to hear her story and her advice for other aspiring models.
You have a unique story about how you got to where you are today. Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I am like every other girl with a big heart and even bigger dreams. I was born in Afghanistan and grew up in Fargo, North Dakota (of all the places, right?!?!). As a young girl, I was surrounded by two of the strongest women in my life: my mom and aunt. Witnessing their resilience and fight to overcome adversity was a constant reminder that I can do whatever I want to if I just worked hard enough. My mom and aunt are two of my biggest heroes and their strength laid the foundation of who I wanted to become.
I graduated with a degree in Social Work and a minor in Psychology and set out to do what I always wanted: help people.
For me, modeling is more than just appearing in front of a camera, it outlines multiple dimensions of what I have been influenced by: body positivity, women’s empowerment, shattering cultural stereotypes, and much more.
When did you know you were interested in modeling?
We all have that moment in our lives when we set out to do something and the experience makes us come alive. When I was 25-years-old, I attended my first open-call in Minneapolis for a very well-known modeling agency. At the time, I was not sure if modeling was something I wanted to pursue. Having had no idea what I was going to be faced with, I walked through the lobby doors and met with 30 pairs of eyes staring at me as if I had lost my way to the bathroom. I stood between tall, skinny, stunning girls and looked completely out of place, and yet, in that moment I was fully alive. I didn’t care about what the agents were going to tell me, or the fact that there wasn’t a single girl who was close to my size or looked even remotely like me. All I knew was that I finally felt fulfilled. Needless to say, I was not selected that day, but when I left the audition, I knew that I was never going to stop.
What was your favorite thing about the ModCloth photo shoot?
The photo shoot with ModCloth was an experience that I’ll remember forever. One of my favorite and most important parts of the shoot was the fun atmosphere created by everyone on the set. I was very excited to shoot for the spring fashion line and felt both beautiful and comfortable in the clothes. Since this was my first formal shoot, I was very nervous, but the photographer and everyone on set made me feel very much at ease.
What advice would you give other aspiring models?
There will be so many people saying “no” to you, even those who are closest to you. You will be questioned and not taken seriously at times, but don’t let any of that get in the way of what you want. I came from a country where there was little to no opportunity for women. Today, I have a chance to be anything I want if only I seize the opportunity and not let the negativity determine my future.
When you’re not modeling, what are your hobbies and your interests? You also work full-time as a social worker, right?
As a social worker, my day is pretty much full of paperwork and meetings. Every day comes with a new life lesson and something to be grateful for. When I am not working, I am striving towards setting the record for the world’s coolest aunt. I have 3 nieces and 2 nephews, who are my everything! A day filled with their madness and yelling is what I live for.
Tell us something most people don’t know about you?
I am working towards getting my motorcycle license. Shhhh…don’t tell my mom.
If you could have dinner with anyone, who would it be?
My all-time favorite, Ellen DeGeneres. She is a remarkable human being and it would be an absolute dream come true!
Best advice you were ever given?
Wear red lipstick.
What’s your favorite thing about ModCloth?
Too many to pick from! First off, on behalf of all plus-size women, I want to thank ModCloth for making fun and trendy fashion that caters towards plus-size women. Yes!!! We too can wear bright colors and fun patterns! We’ve all had the frustrating experience of walking into a store and going all the way in the back only to find ugly, frumpy, unflattering clothes. Ugh! It’s so liberating to have a fashion line with such a wide range of sizes! I no longer have to ask, “Where is the plus size section?”