She’s only 20 years old, but model Gracie Phillips is already making a name for herself on her own terms. Until recently, she did not publicly reveal that she is the daughter of Golden Globe-nominated actor Lou Diamond Phillips, who famously starred in “La Bamba” (check out our Homegirl Talk interview with co-star Esai Morales) and the Oscar-nominated film “Stand & Deliver.”
Now that the young Phillips has established herself as at Wilhelmina, one of the world’s top modeling agencies, she’s ready to talk about her famous family, what beauty really means and how she thinks modeling can be an important platform for positive change.
You’ve been modeling for a couple of years but you waited until now to disclose that your dad is Lou Diamond Phillips. Why was it important for you to keep his celebrity out of your story?
Who my father is wasn’t necessarily a secret—I just wanted to start my career off on my own. I wanted to book jobs based off of my own merit, instead of booking jobs based off of my last name and father. I wanted to make a name for myself and have people want to work with me based off of who I was. Once I proved to myself that I could do that and it wasn’t all about my last name, I had no issue discussing my family. I am extremely proud of my dad and his career, and even more proud to be his daughter.
What is it about modeling that appealed to you? When did you know you had a chance to make it a career?
I grew up around the industry and have always loved fashion. I loved how modeling allowed someone to portray another’s creative vision and I wanted to be a part of that. With modeling, you can channel different parts of yourself and bring a picture to life. I have always enjoyed photography, but soon found I really enjoyed being in front of the camera as well.
Do you identify as a woman of color? How important is your Filipino heritage to you?
My heritage is very important to me. Being mixed is something that I find extremely unique and it’s what makes me me.
You have a twin sister and two younger siblings. What do they think of your burgeoning modeling career? Do you ever consider what they might think before doing a sexy photo shoot?
My siblings have always been extremely supportive of me and my career. They are always encouraging me to reach for the stars and I am extremely grateful for their endless love and support. When it comes to sexy photo shoots, I do think of my younger siblings and how I want to be portrayed. A woman’s body is beautiful and should be viewed as art. If I can showcase this in a sexy photo shoot where it is classy and artistic, then I am all for it.
You appeared in the Hallmark movie “Love Takes Wing” with your dad in 2009. Is acting something you want to pursue along with modeling?
Yes! Acting is something I want to pursue along with my modeling career. For a while, I didn’t think it was something I wanted to do, but as I have grown older, I have found it is something I am interested in doing and think it could be a lot of fun!
I read that you are currently taking online college courses and eventually want to get a degree in communications. Tell us about that.
My education has always been very important to me. When I started modeling, I didn’t want to lose that. I enjoy learning and have always wanted to get my college degree. Online classes are an easy way for me to do that with my hectic schedule.
They say beauty is in the eye of the beholder. What do you find beautiful?
There are many things that I find beautiful, but the first two things that come to mind are confidence and a kind heart. When you are confident, you exude beauty whether you are having a good day or not. A kind heart is something I find beautiful because it makes others around you feel beautiful and loved as well. Being kind in this world today is so important, and a pretty face can only take you so far.
What do you think about models like Ashley Graham and Winnie Harlow who are expanding our ideas of traditional beauty standards?
I admire these two women and how they have paved the way in the fashion industry. Beauty comes in many different shapes, sizes and colors. These two women have showcased this and are both strong, powerful individuals. I am proud to be a part of an industry that is showcasing the many different kinds of beauty.
What have you learned about the world of modeling that you didn’t know before you started doing it professionally?
Before entering the world of modeling, I received tips and knowledge from my mom, Kelly, who used to model. She started at the age of 15 and had a lot of great advice to give me. I learned that the modeling industry is one that you have to have thick skin and a good head on your shoulders for.
Now that you have an increasingly public platform to reach people, how would you like to use it? Do you have any causes that you are passionate about?
I have always been a strong advocate for self-love and anti-bullying. With my platform, I hope to be a positive role model and encourage people to be kind to themselves and others. As I said before, beauty comes in all different shapes, sizes and colors—not just what is portrayed on magazine covers. The industry has done an amazing job at showcasing this and promoting self-love. I want to be a part of that and speak out against bullying and hate. This world needs more love and I want to be a positive voice for those who feel they don’t have one.
Any advice you can offer for staying in great shape?
Some advice I can offer on staying in shape is to work out and eat clean. When you eat clean, you feel better and look better, too. Also, staying hydrated is key! Drink lots of water.