SHE’S sashayed down hundreds of catwalks and now model Ashley Brown is going to pass her top tips to a new generation of runway wannabes by opening her own modelling school.
The 23-year-old, who shot to fame in 2009 when she came fourth in Britain’s Next Top Model, has been inundated with requests for places in her new West Lothian modelling school.
Now with a full complement of 45 pupils aged between five and 23 enrolled, Ashley can’t wait to start classes later this month.
The Armadale-based mother-of-two has named her school The Ashley Brown Esteem Model School and says her focus will be on instilling confidence in girls, rather than striving for perfection.
She said: “We’ve made it clear from the beginning that we weren’t just interested in people who were stick thin or who had no insecurities over their looks. Everyone has things about themselves they don’t like, but these can often be the very things that make them attractive to the people who hire models – the more unique you are, the better. I want each and every one of the girls to leave the classes feeling great about themselves.”
Lessons, which will take place at Hush Hair and Beauty in Livingston, will include instructions on how to work the catwalk, and preparing for different types of photoshoot. Taekwondo black belt Ashley, a former junior European and world champion, will also be giving self-defence classes and advising the girls on how to stay safe and avoid being taken advantage of.
She said: “Some places charge models for taking them on – a reputable agency would never do that. You also have to be careful when agreeing to photoshoots. Always check out the photographer and always take someone with you.”
Ashley is currently starring in America’s Next Top Model: British Invasion on Sky Living.
Though the series has already aired in the States, Ashley is loath to give anything away about the series until it completes its UK run. However, one thing she will say is how happy she is about how differently she is coming across this time around after being portrayed as an argumentative troublemaker on BNTM.
She said: “I was so embarrassed when I saw it and it was horrible having so much nasty stuff written about me. On these types of shows they cast you as a certain character and then edit footage according to that. I was ‘the angry Scottish girl’.”
The proud mum to Alysha, seven, and Jay, four, only plucked up the courage to watch herself on America’s Next Top Model last week.
She said: “I was so pleased. This time I’m ‘the cute wee Scottish girl!’ I’ve grown up a lot since BNTM and I know not to let small stuff bother me anymore.
“Even having seen it, I still can’t believe it was me in LA with Tyra Banks. It’s crazy.”
John Dolan, owner of Hush, where Ashley has previously modelled, said: “When Ashley explained her idea, I was blown away. Young women have their self-esteem really damaged by the images they are force-fed in the media of how they are supposedly meant to look, and I’m only too happy to be involved in somewhere that wants to help them rebuild their confidence.”
Journey to the top
ASHLEY got her first taste of modelling success in 2008 when she was crowned Miss West Lothian.
The then 19-year-old was already used to performing under pressure, having been a junior taekwondo world and European champion in her earlier years.
In 2009, she became a household name during her stint in Britain’s Next Top Model, when she eventually came fourth.
Since then, Ashley has put her fame to good use, fronting anti-domestic violence campaigns, highlighting the dangers of binge-drinking and helping distribute personal safety alarms. She is currently appearing on America’s Next Top Model: The British Invasion.