Leading Ladies: Ingrid Ryan

Leading Ladies heads back to the fashion world this week, with an interview with our first model to be featured!

When you think of modeling, you probably think of the runways of New York and Paris.  But there are professional models in cities throughout the country, and I have the pleasure of working with many of them on TV shows.

Ingrid Ryan has worked with me on several segments – and I never book a fashion show in Tampa without first checking to make sure she is available.  My clients love her - and it is an absolute delight to work with her!

You may not know her by name, but if you watch HSN, you will definitely recognize her.

Let me introduce you to…

Ingrid Ryan


Who are you, and what do you do?

I'm Ingrid Ryan, and I am a professional model.

Where do you live, where are you from, and where did you go to school?

I am a native of St. Petersburg, Florida.  I attended St. Petersburg High School, followed by college at Tuskegee University.  My major was English, which I taught for 12 years before beginning modeling.

What attracted you to modeling? 

I've always been attracted to the fashion industry, and knew that my dream job would involve being a part of it.  While I was always a little on the tall side, the business is extremely demanding and also very difficult to obtain success, so I never pursued it.  Having been told throughout my life that I should try it, I finally decided at age 36 to do so. 


How did you get started as a model? 

My start is actually an amazing story that involves a wonderful agent who I've kept to this day. Using her iPhone, she took a picture and submitted me for my first booking, and that was the beginning of it all.


What types of jobs do you typically work?

Typically, on a weekly basis, I'm fortunate enough to work with HSN in their fashion department, modeling fashions by world-renowned designers and fashion icons like Iman and Twiggy.  These bookings are delightful because you get to not only meet the designer and familiarize yourself with their line, but it's also wonderful exposure as a model.

There are also occasional bookings for things like tourism, resorts, department store and catalogs as well.  I was recently booked for a bridal show, which is so amazing because not only will I get to wear beautiful dresses, but it will give me great photos from the runway. These kinds of jobs are a lot of fun, and give models an opportunity to get great pictures for portfolio use and exposure for future bookings. The fact that modeling offers so much schedule diversity is one of the things that I most enjoy about it. 

What is your typical work day like?

With a husband, a child, and a doggy, I try to adhere to a schedule on most days. My day usually involves a workout at some point, whether I have a booking or not.  Bookings are usually done in full-day or half-day blocks, but when working with HSN, blocks of two to four hours at a time are more the norm, which is pretty SWEET!  Since HSN is a 24-hour-a-day operation, scheduling can get a little tricky sometimes.  When bookings overlap with other activities for the day like orthodontic appointments, school drop-off and the like, it can make for a busy day. 


Many people think of modeling as a super-glamourous job.  What it is really like?

There are so many myths about the glamour side of modeling - where do I begin?  First, it's a lot more difficult to take a quality picture than most people think.  Factors like angles and lighting are huge components of making an amazing picture, and yet these things are never seen, or even usually known by the public.  Running (often literally) back-and-forth, with very quick wardrobe changes, in extreme conditions like being very hot at the beach or extremely cold in a pool of water and pretending that you're not, are things we don't often think about when we're flipping through our favorite fashion magazine or ad.  Also, I don't find working out to be particularly glamorous! 


Furthermore, it is a myth that models arrive camera-ready and spend very little time in hair and makeup prep. The more creative, colorful and editorial the set is, the longer this process takes. Finally, it's your job to make whatever you've been given to wear or to present look amazing, and sometimes this is harder than others. It can be a challenge to exude confidence when a particular article of clothing is not necessarily something that you would personally wear.  At these times, you must keep in mind that your job is to do just that! After all, this is what you're being paid to do.


What are some of the biggest challenges you face in this tough industry?

I think that some of the challenges that not just myself, but most models face, are just the subjectiveness of the industry.  People would argue that all of the “isms” are present in this industry – ageism, sexism, racism, you name it. Because I entered the industry much later than most professional models, I believe I am fortunate enough to have sidestepped many of the personal insecurities that come with being a young model.  I'm at a confident age and stage of my life where I accept myself for who I am just as I am, and this has made things much easier for me.  However, there is always an element of exception and rejection in this industry, and it's healthy to remind yourself that while it feels personal when you don't get a job or a booking, it really isn’t.


How do you balance family life with a non-traditional work schedule?

I have lots of support!  I could not manage being a mother, wife, and professional without the support of my entire family. This includes of course my wonderful husband, as well as my parents and extended family, who all pitch in from time to time when necessary.  Also, if I may say, I credit God with my ability to get everything done. I don't know how I would do it without my strong spiritual foundation, and I believe that through God and with God all things are possible! I say this often throughout the day. 

How would you describe your own personal style?

My own personal style I would define as eclectic, but not trendy. I love classic lines and silhouettes.  I love lux fabrics and amazing details, like buttons, zippers and hardware. I cannot live without accessories like amazing scarves, shoes, and handbags!  Also, color is a huge component in my wardrobe and I often dress according to my mood. This means my fashion style runs the gamut, which I love that because it allows me to express myself in ways that reflect my daily moods and tastes.

What five items in your wardrobe could you not live without?

So, this could be a hard one because I definitely have key FAVES, but narrowing them down to five is a little difficult... absolutely my gold hoop earrings, my favorite crisp white blouse (of course with collar popped), my favorite pair of distressed denim jeans, my dark dinner denim skinny jeans, and my nude Vince Camuto pumps. Oh, and if allowed one more... my Blush pink trench coat!


What inspires you?

Amazing and empowered women doing things they love to do, whether it be modeling, designing, writing. producing, acting, singing, dancing, teaching, parenting... GIRLS JUST ROCK!!! I'm so proud to be the gender that I am, living in the time that I am, with so many opportunities still opening up for women. I love that and I love knowing that!

What advice would you offer people who want to explore working as a model? 

I would give people who want to explore working as a model the same advice that I would give people who want to explore doing anything else that they think they would love:  be curious first, then be open to learning.  Contrary to popular belief, you do not need to spend exorbitant amounts of money to break into the industry. There are certainly those in this industry who recognize talent and beauty and will give opportunities to models of all ages ...and now, thank goodness, all sizes. It's really a wonderful time to be a model.

Thank you, Ingrid!  You can follow Ingrid on both Instagram and Twitter.

Have an awesome week!


* All photos courtesy of Ingrid Ryan.