Becoming a model is not an uncommon dream for many girls and women in the world to have. The flashing lights and cameras; being paid to be perfectly pampered and cosmetized by the best fashion designers in the industry; and ultimately becoming a face of fashion, all contribute to a lifestyle that seems appealing, at least on the surface.
Though a common dream, it is a unique reality. Only a few, of the thousands who try, actually end up sitting in front of a vanity mirror with fashion designers and their cosmetic contraptions surrounding; fashion is one of the most competitive industries in the world and tops many lists in being the toughest industry to break into.
Furthermore, even after making a break, staying concreted in fashion is just as troublesome. Height, age, weight, money and constant criticism regarding what is supposed to be a private temple - one's body - cause many to quit, starve themselves, take drugs or initiate severe depression. Also, it's an industry that arguably ends up consuming one's life - traveling, appointments, publicists, interviews, etc.; it makes it difficult to sustain a life outside of fashion, and thus, hobbies and interests one might have had may disappear or take a long-term backseat.
Brittani Kline, who now resides in Lock Haven, won “America’s Next Top Model” in 2011 and has had a wild ride since. She is shown in a photo from a recent photoshoot.
But Brittani Autumn Kline, Central Pa.'s very own celebrity, continually refuses to let the industry consume her, but rather, after a few years of trial and error, has learned to weave fashion into her life in a controlled manner. It has been a long journey, though; happy and perfect one minute - turbulent and emotionally draining the next.
As a native of Beech Creek, a tiny town with less than a thousand residents, and a Central Mountain High School graduate, Kline was able to break into the industry in a major way. And she has had quite the journey since "making it to the top" ... as in literally winning Cycle 16 of "America's Next Top Model" in 2011. She won a contract with IMG Models, a chunk of cash and a spread in Vogue Italia magazine. But that was only the beginning.
"Since winning ANTM Cycle 16, life has been an interesting roller coaster ride of modeling, school, family, bartending and all the little things any other 22-year-old girl would be doing," Kline said.
She juggles very contrasting lifestyles - one day she's jumping a plane to Mexico and the next, bartending for local regulars at the Copperhead, a small Beech Creek dive bar.
She lived in New York City briefly after winning, with Cycle 16's runner up, Molly O'Connell. She lived in the fashion metropolis for seven months, and despite having an impressive portfolio to show from ANTM, and being signed with the number one modeling agency in the world (IMG), she only was able to book one modeling gig with Vogue Mexico.
"[I] was constantly being told to lose weight or dye my hair a new color. I got tired of changing myself when I wasn't working ... and was also not willing to lose weight from my already-thin frame," she said.
In January 2012, she decided to leave the city and IMG to return to a less superficial lifestyle.
"I needed to make enough money to support myself and stay true to who I am, so I moved back home to my family, boyfriend and bartending job," she said.
She deleted her ANTM-affiliated Facebook account, which had thousands of fans, and picked back up where she had left off in her studies at Lock Haven University - studying Spanish language and English writing - degrees that she hopes to receive by spring of 2016.
Kline is on hiatus from college again, however, after other modeling opportunities arose.
"By the end of the day, I was missing my passion in life and wanted to start shooting again on my own terms, rather than everyone else's," she said.
Through her time in NYC, she met a new manager and photographer, Manny Roman, who now manages her overall career.
"As a manager, he has placed me with Prodigy in Florida and Paragon in Mexico City," she said.
She recently has spent time in Mexico City, Mexico, New York City and Tegucigalpa, Honduras, participating in Fashion Weeks and other modeling work.
An enthusiast of Spanish culture, she's thrilled at the fact that her job allows her to travel to exotic places.
"Modeling is different in every country because every place is unique in culture, people, design and custom. In Mexico, I lived in a small apartment with 16 male and female models, mosquitoes and bed bugs," she said.
Future modeling prospects for Kline include Israel, Greece and the Dominican Republic.
"I love history and culture so there is no country I would say no to visiting," she said.
She plans to work in the modeling field as long as opportunities are presented, but eventually wants to be a writer. She hopes to write a children's book series, an autobiographical work and perhaps travel pieces for magazines.
"I prefer a more conventional life of having a home and family. With modeling you are constantly traveling - a gypsy if you will. It is fun but I like to have a little stability. I consider my life an eccentric form of conventional. I could never claim to be normal ... but I try to stay as close to it as I can."
Over time and through many ups and downs, like most, she is slowly figuring out who she is and what she wants.
"I used to dream of being a supermodel, but after I realized what that entailed, my dream evolved into something more long term and family oriented," she said.
But she will still pursue modeling opportunities as they arise.
"The hardest part about this roller coaster ride is it's one that's in the dark. You only know where you're at in that instant; the next minute it could be a downhill plunge or a loop the loop ... or the ride could be over," she said.