During the Fall/Winter collections in 2012, model Madison Headrick burst onto the fashion scene during shows for Prada in Milan. Eighteen years old at the time, the Charleston, South Carolina native had been hoping to walk during New York Fashion Week before the opportunity to walk the runway exclusively for Prada came about. After turning heads in Milan with her beauty, confidence and grace, Headrick has appeared in campaigns for Prada and Calvin Klein as well as a diverse array of print publications including Dazed & Confused, Interview, French Numéro, British Vogue, Oyster, V, i-D, and Vogue Italia.
Originally scouted by Tony Perkins when she was 15 years of age, Headrick signed Vision LA while still in high school and, after graduating early, moved to New York and signed with Marilyn New York in 2012.
Headrick is currently signed with Vision in Los Angeles, The Society in New York, Storm Model Management in London, Model Management in Hamburg, Elite Barcelona, Elite Milan and Elite Paris. To keep up with Headrick and her work, follow her on Instagram and Twitter.
What was your childhood like, and how did it shape who you are today?
My childhood most definitely shaped who I am today. I grew up in the south with a younger sister and younger brother, two loving parents, and two spunky dogs. My family’s house is on the water in Charleston, so most of my childhood consisted of playing man hunt in the backyard, fishing off the dock, and watching Charleston’s beautiful sunsets on the back porch while Dad grilled the best ribs you’ve ever tasted. I have been blessed with an incredible support system of great friends, the sweetest boyfriend, and a big family who loves, motivates, and cheers me on. I owe a lot to my family; there have been times where my job has been extremely stressful but having a group of cheerleaders who love me regardless of my work or lack thereof is extremely humbling and encouraging. I couldn’t have come this far without them.
You were scouted and signed with Vision LA when you were fifteen. How did that opportunity come about?
Through a mutual friend in Charleston, Tony Perkins saw a picture of my tall, awkward, lanky 15 year old self and that’s where it all began! As soon as he saw my picture, he drove hours through a horrible thunderstorm and met my parents and I at the front of our neighborhood. I remember meeting him for the first time like it was just yesterday. He himself is a southern gentleman so we connected immediately. I remember him just looking me dead in the eyes not saying a word. We spoke for a bit, he took some pictures, then stared at me again and all he said was, “Wow.” After he spoke with my parents, he assured us and was confident that I should pursue modeling. I never aspired to be a model and meeting Tony fell into my lap. It was a once in a lifetime opportunity and I wanted to give it all I had because I knew that something like this wouldn’t come around again. So, that next summer, I signed with Vision LA and I flew to the west coast with my father, where I spent the summer test shooting and building a portfolio. Fast forwarding a bit, I turned eighteen, graduated early from high school, and set off to NYC January 2012.
What is high school like for someone with a modeling contract?
Being a full-time high school student and a full-time model was not an easy task. My school only allowing five absences did not make matters easier. While I was still in school, I had to turn down a handful of really great jobs, which was super frustrating. After this happened a few times, I decided to buckle down in school, take a heavier class schedule, and graduate early. There were monumental events in high school such as football games and my senior prom that I missed out on, but I am so fortunate that I missed those things for a very good reason.
What was the most difficult part about relocating to New York?
The most difficult part about relocating to NYC was being away from my home and my family. I was eighteen when I moved and at that time, had never been away from home. I remember getting the flu my first week in NYC and being extremely ill for two weeks and not having my mom there to hold my hair or make me soup was tough. I didn’t know my way around the city and the only person I knew was my agent. If I could compare it to anything, it was like being the new kid in school and not knowing where to sit in the cafeteria… times fifty. Now, I can look back at those times and laugh because I am madly in love with this city and am not leaving until I’m forced out!
How did you first meet Ashley Brokaw, and how has she helped to shape your career?
When I came to NYC, I arrived right in the middle of castings for fashion week. My agent and I had a meeting where we agreed that I would go on a few castings but would most likely not do fashion week because I had not learned how to walk on a runway yet nor had I ever been on a casting. One day, I was told that I was going to meet Ashley Brokaw who, of course, is a very influential casting director and is known for casting the Prada show. I met her and the casting went well, so I thought, but then again, I didn’t really know how castings were even supposed to go. A few days later, my agency called me into the office and sat me down. My agent explained to me that I would not be walking in NYFW that season. Although I knew that this was a possibility, I tried my best to hide my disappointment and tears. He then asked me if I wanted to know why I wasn’t going to be walking. I thought I was going to be lectured and told to pack my bags and to go back home to South Carolina, but before I could get a word out, he screamed, “BECAUSE YOU, MY DEAR, ARE A PRADA EXCLUSIVE!” From that moment on, my life changed. My agents and Ashley Brokaw believed in me. I, for that season, walked the runway for Prada as well as shot the campaign with legendary Steven Meisel and became a Prada girl. Words can not describe how thankful I am for having Ashley and my agents believing in me from day one.
What have you learned about yourself and about the modeling industry since you got your start?
My career has pushed me, inspired me, and most of all, put me outside my comfort zone. I was a teenage girl who wore whatever my best friends were wearing, listened to music that played 100 times a day on the radio, and just followed the crowd. I tried to fly home every day I had off from work the first year I lived in NYC because I couldn’t relate to anything there. My job has required me to go to countries where people do not speak the same language I do, do not wear the same clothes, or do things that I typically would. I learned from my surroundings and have been influenced a great deal by my coworkers and the industry. My fashion and style have changed, my taste in music and now international music has expanded, and my imagination has grown. I no longer care what others think or say about me, and I try my best to be the best I can be. This industry is tough and will make your skin thicken every day that goes by. It has made me a dreamer but most importantly, a fighter.
Which photographers have you most enjoyed working with?
It is very difficult to choose who my favorite photographer is that I’ve worked with, as I have been lucky enough to work with some pretty incredible ones. I would have to say though that Emma Summerton, Lachlan Bailey, Guy Aroch, and Josh Olins are at the top of my list.
What’s the best movie you’ve seen recently?
The best and most recent movie I’ve seen is The Theory of Everything. From the writing, to the photography, to of course the remarkable acting, everything was so well done and flawless. It is truly inspiring and a good tear-jerker that everyone must see!
When it comes to food, which Southern delicacies do you miss the most?
Oh do I miss my Southern food! It’s is difficult to choose one thing but if I had to, it would most definitely be sweet tea!
If you could take a few weeks off and go on vacation anywhere in the world, where would you choose?
I would probably choose Costa Rica… I’ve never been before, but I’ve always wanted to! I would love to go and lay on the beach or zip line through the rainforest!
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given?
I have been told such great advice from my parents. There are two quotes I constantly remind myself of. One of them was on a hand written letter that my mother snuck into my suitcase. I had had a really tough week in my work life and personal life and was feeling really down. She explained in the letter how much she loved me and was proud of me. The last line read, “Head high, eyes dry, and conquer.”
The other bit of advice I live by is something my father has tattooed on my brain ever since I was a kid. “Live life deliberately.” It’s very simple but means so much. Have a dream, make goals, and take the necessary steps to achieve and succeed. Life is beautiful but it’s short, and the worst thing you can be is ordinary. Want something? Want something REALLY extraordinary? Go get it. Nothing is impossible.
What are you working on next?
I will be flying to Miami in a few days for Art Basel! I’m super excited for many reasons. One of those being that it will be my first time attending Art Basel. Also, I will be there during my birthday; what a great way to celebrate right?! But most importantly, I will be announcing my partnership with Ocho. I will be documenting my trip and experiences through Ocho videos and posting throughout my time there. Download the new Ocho app and stay tuned for some inside looks at Art Basel through my eyes :)