Sunday, January 21

Inspired by mother, student models career around independence


First-year undeclared student CoryAnne Roberts always heard that she resembled her supermodel mother in her height and features. Though she admired her mother, Roberts said she wanted to make her own path as a model – now, she is represented by L.A. Models and has modeled for brands like Brandy Melville, Levi’s and MAC cosmetics. (Courtesy of Fiorenzo Nisi)

First-year undeclared student CoryAnne Roberts always heard that she resembled her supermodel mother in her height and features. Though she admired her mother, Roberts said she wanted to make her own path as a model – now, she is represented by L.A. Models and has modeled for brands like Brandy Melville, Levi’s and MAC cosmetics. (Courtesy of Fiorenzo Nisi)


CoryAnne Roberts was sitting in her seventh grade religion class when her friend came across pictures of her mom on Tumblr. Her friend’s discovery sparked a frenzied Internet search that led classmates and her teacher to hover around the laptop to view an old video of her mother on YouTube.

In the video, her mother – supermodel Stephanie Roberts – playfully punched her red boxing gloves in the air as she walked down the runway in a 1992 Chanel fashion show in Paris.

“I remember seeing that and thinking she was so cool,” Roberts said. “It wasn’t just like modeling nowadays. She was making a show.”

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(QingQing Su/Daily Bruin)

Roberts, a first-year undeclared student, has taken after her mother in pursuing a modeling career. Represented by L.A. Models, she has modeled for brands like Brandy Melville, Levi’s and MAC cosmetics, but she is determined to carve out a career that is distinctly her own by expanding her work to commercial acting and hosting.

Growing up in Bali, Indonesia with her father while her mother was in America, Roberts would often receive comments from her friends and her parents’ friends urging her to model like her mother, who appeared on the covers of fashion magazines like Vogue and Marie Claire in the early ’90s. They told her that with her height and her mother’s features, she could easily follow in her mother’s footsteps.

“I like it when people associate me with her,” Roberts said. “I look up to her. She had a once-in-a-lifetime career.”

Roberts admired her mother’s success, and felt like modeling was something she could never avoid. Her father, who is now a photographer, got her accustomed to the camera by frequently stopping her to pose for pictures, and her big curly hair made her stand out in Bali, she said. She was asked to do her first photo shoot for a family friend’s clothing line when she was 10 years old.

“In her case, she was genetically predisposed to the industry,” Stephanie Roberts said.

At the age of 13, CoryAnne Roberts moved from Bali to Los Angeles to live with her mother and attend high school, and modeling slipped from her mind as she adjusted to American life. It wasn’t until two years later, during her father’s visit to Los Angeles, that modeling found its way back into her life.

Roberts sat on the couch with her father, chatting and watching television, when he suggested that she try signing with an agency in Los Angeles. She casually agreed, curious to see where a modeling career would take her.

“I wasn’t like ‘Oh yeah, I’m about to be a big model,’” Roberts said. “But I was still hopeful.”

At the time Roberts decided to start her modeling again in Los Angeles, her relationship with her mother had increasingly become more distant since she had started high school.

“I was really wrapped up in assimilating, kind of fitting in and becoming who I am now,” Roberts said. “I had a lot on my plate, and we just really weren’t that close.”

Determined to navigate the industry by herself, Roberts drove herself to and from shoots scheduled with photographers or castings from all over Los Angeles to San Diego.

Stephanie Roberts said she saw herself in her daughter’s independence. She started modeling when she was 18 years old and also didn’t have anyone to drive her to shoots. She said she feels proud that her daughter has taken charge of her modeling career, especially without much guidance.

“I’ll be honest, she pretty much did it on her own,” Roberts said. “But I believed in just giving her a lot of encouragement, and she’ll make her way just like I made my way.”

Unlike her mother, CoryAnne Roberts aspires to expand her career to broadcast and hosting. The goal, she said, is to one day become a host for a television show.

To transition from modeling to video, Roberts takes hosting classes and hosts a weekly radio show with KCLA-FM.

“I love being in front of the camera, but I like being more dynamic and showing my personality and moving more,” Roberts said. “With pictures it’s just one click, but with video you’re doing so much.”

Molly Harrell, Roberts’ agent at L.A. Models, said she’s impressed with Roberts’ initiative to branch out into work other than modeling, especially with Roberts’ recent signing with L.A. Talent, L.A. Models’ sister talent agency, where she can pursue commercial acting opportunities.

“She’s a go-getter for sure,” Harrell said.

[Read more: Roberts launches career on ‘America’s Next Top Model’]

Roberts said she and her mother now talk on the phone multiple times a day, with her mother constantly giving her advice on how to decide who to work with in modeling and offering encouragement when she feels her modeling work is reaching a standstill.

With her mother’s help, Roberts intends to still be in control of the direction of her career as she takes on bigger projects in the upcoming months.

When Roberts sits in modeling meetings or meets people who were in the modeling industry during the ’80s and ’90s, her mother’s name somehow finds its way into the conversation. CoryAnne Roberts said she takes pride in discussing her lineage, but she doesn’t let it define her.

“I’ll never be my mom. I know for a fact that I won’t have her career,” Roberts said. “I make decisions for myself. I know what I want and I’ll go get it.”

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