Every student has a dream; unfortunately, not every student will pursue theirs. Animal science sophomore Savanna Daniels vowed she would not fall into that category when she moved from northern Michigan to East Lansing. Although she might spend time at Mid-Michigan Cat Rescue furthering her animal science career, Daniels dedicates much of her free time to working the catwalk.
Modeling has been a dream of Daniels since she was a little girl, and during her freshman year at MSU, she put forth the effort to make her dream a reality. Daniels applied for the college edition of America’s Next Top Model, or ANTM, and to her surprise, received a callback for the television show.
“(The ANTM producer) said, ‘Congrats, you’ve been chosen as a semifinalist,’ and I was like, ‘Are you kidding me?’ I thought it was a joke,” she said. “I couldn’t believe it was happening.”
Daniels was flown out to Los Angeles for a week, where she was able to meet the other selected girls and the show’s icon herself — Tyra Banks.
Daniels said when she eventually didn’t make it into the final casting, it was Banks who assured her other opportunities would present themselves.
“I got to hug (Banks and) after I didn’t make it into the house, she talked to us and was really nice and helpful,” Daniels said. “(Banks) told us this wasn’t the end of our journey. She was really nice.”
Though the rejection had its initial sting, Daniels found her silver lining in the form of the clothing brand, AFRNT.
Last summer, AFRNT creator Randy Myers posted an ad seeking models to represent his up-and-coming Traverse City lifestyles brand. Daniels was drawn to respond to the post because of her hometown connection and interest in expanding her portfolio. Upon meeting, Myers said he sensed the aura of an experienced model.
“To a T she was a model when it came to technique, look, personality — just everything,” he said. “I couldn’t ask for a better representation of my brand.”
Myers isn’t alone in his opinion of Daniels. Courtney McCatty is a photographer based in northern Michigan who also spoke fondly of her experiences photographing Daniels.
McCatty worked with Daniels during a recent visit to East Lansing and said the model demonstrated proper technique. McCatty said, as a photographer, she is constantly on the search for confident, comfortable models.
“What sets (Daniels) apart is that a lot of models try too hard to pose, and she’s graceful about it,” McCatty said. “She goes right into her poses. It’s almost like she’s dancing in front of the camera instead of being all stiff.”
Daniels attributes her on-camera comfort to her confidence, a trait she said is necessary in the modeling industry. During her stint with ANTM, Daniels said if not for her thick skin, she could have been influenced by negative opinions of her that flourished online.
“I learned to not worry about things like that,” Daniels said. “It’s only going to bring (me) down.”
This upcoming summer, Daniels intends to spread the importance of confidence to other aspiring models, alongside Myers.
While her resume boasts unique experiences, Daniels said she understands modeling will remain an uphill battle to become successful — but she’s willing to make the climb. Myers said if she continues down the path she’s on, Daniels is bound to achieve her goal.
“She’s got it,” he said. “There’s no question she’s going to go places.”