LIVING Model and actress Holland Smith has journeyed into acting after years in sport at a national level. She shares her story with Jack Yan
Photographed and art-directed by Christina Deo
Photography assisted by Stephen Shilling
Styled by Patrick Surach
Make-up by Nicole Rivera
Modelled by Holland Smith
From issue 42 of Lucire
Holland Smith has begun to get noticed in acting, having done off-Broadway performances, appearances in short films, commercials and music videos, and is now finding her way into television with roles in Dweck and Paramount’s The First Wives’ Club. It’s modelling, however, which sees Smith with numerous, enviable credits in international publications in the US and Europe, and now, in Lucire in both the KSA and New Zealand.
Smith’s story has parallels with Joy Corrigan’s: an American girl grows up in the US heartland, and heads to a large city to take the next steps in her career. However, their respective journeys into the limelight differ.
‘I grew up in a smaller city of about 75,000 people called Saint Joseph, near Kansas City, Missouri,’ Smith tells Lucire. ‘It’s a very historic town. It actually established the Pony Express Mail Service and Aunt Jemima Pancake Mix, so that’s unique! My childhood was spent making goofy web-show videos and short films, riding mini-dirt bikes and four-wheelers, scooters, canoeing, and adventuring.’ Having been in New York for four years, she says that her appreciation for the nature and peacefulness of her childhood home has grown. ‘Plus, it’s always great to come home and see my family.’
Smith was home-schooled, and loved the experience. ‘My curriculum was organized with daily schedules and assignments, and it was pretty easy to stay on track. Just like regular school, I had paper deadlines and designated test days. Home-schooling made learning fun! I felt like I could focus on the topics that really interested me. Sure, there were tough days, but the overall learning experience was enjoyable. I was very fortunate to have parents who were patient and inspired me to excel.’
One area she excelled in was sport, where she trained in triathlon alongside her parents and younger brother. From the ages of six to eighteen, Smith represented Junior Team USA as an élite triathlete, awarded the All-American honours and honourable mention for Junior Athlete of the Year by the USA Triathlon Association. But she feels that deep down, she’s ‘always been an actor.’
She explains, ‘Racing a triathlon felt similar to putting on a show. The training was like the rehearsal, and competing in front of the hundreds of spectators was the performance. All the years of being an athlete enhanced my ability to adapt and react instinctively. I think that acting flows naturally because of that. Triathlon improved my willpower, courage and confidence, which helps when it comes to acting in front of a camera or live audience.’
However, a modelling career beckoned. Thanks to her triathlon profile, a New York modelling agent noticed Smith. As an athlete, she was a natural for modelling activewear and fitness clothing, working with Under Armour and Nike. At a shade under 5 ft 10 in, Smith was able to move in to fashion and catwalk modelling. By this time she had retired from her sporting endeavours.
She elaborates, ‘The transition from an athlete to a fashion model has been an exhilarating and wild roller-coaster. I naturally have a strong, muscular build, so it has been difficult to fit into a “slender fashion model image”. There is always some pressure to be a certain size when you’re a model. But after four years, I finally feel like I have found a healthy balance and acceptance for my body, regardless of size. I’ve learned that there will always be someone who has an opinion of your appearance. You cannot please everyone. At the end of the day, what you perceive and think about yourself is the only opinion that matters.’
Smith even found time to blog, and for a while had an active newsletter with nutrition and fitness topics. This kept her in touch with fans until mid-2017, but these days, they’re more likely to follow her on Instagram, where she has a growing following, currently sitting on 20,100 followers.
A true creative, she also has her own abstract art for sale in an Etsy shop linked from her official website (hollandsmith.net), and has a digital marketing business, HLND Multi-Media, ‘which collaborates with small businesses to build digital marketing presence. She actively creates online content, designs professional websites, and blogs regularly,’ according to her publicity.
‘I love to create,’ says Smith. ‘I’m fortunate that modelling, acting, and digital marketing revolve around imagination and art. Even though I switch between multiple jobs, I never feel pressured or short of passion since they all share an artistic quality. I think that it is such a joy and privilege to have the opportunity to do all these lovely things! Personally, I don’t think it matters if you do one job or multiple, life is about what makes you feel happy and fulfilled.’
But acting appears to be her latest big adventure. ‘I’ve enjoyed every part of acting and developing in it. It’s all trial and error, and I like that I can continuously grow in acting.
‘Both racing and modelling have prepared me in different ways. Triathlons boosted my self-confidence and discipline, and modelling taught me how to be natural in front of a camera. Taking acting classes in New York City has also been a great creative outlet and stepping stone.’
Over the years, actresses have told Lucire that they’d like to be ‘the next Meryl Streep’, but Smith is more candid: ‘I don’t know if I have one individual role model. I respect a wide range of people who have the guts to put themselves out there, despite rejection or failure, and still find joy in the process.’
What’s next? ‘Sky’s the limit! Each moment is brand new, and I’m excited to see where life takes me. I’m eager to continue acting and modelling, learning, and maybe try a jujitsu class or two.’ Based on Smith’s record so far, we may find that she’s excelled in the martial art, too—until then, we can look forward to her gracing our screens again. •
Jack Yan is founder and publisher of Lucire.
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