Fiona the Friar: Small-Town Model with Big-Time Dreams

Just in time for Style Week: Providence, we were awarded the opportunity to speak to a local Rhode Island model who will be strutting her stuff on that very catwalk. Fiona Hillery, 21, was born and raised in Lil’ Rhody, attended a suburban public school, and isn’t shy about calling herself an oddball; so how did she end up posing for well-renowned photographers and playing dress up with designers straight off of Project Runway? She dishes all of the answers (plus why she considers herself a weirdo–but aren’t we all?) exclusively to TwentyTweets!

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Fiona had always been interested in dabbling in the modeling world, but sometimes doubted herself. Excuses were made in her mind about why she would never make it, which included her questioning her body image (I mean, who wouldn’t!). She tells us that it took a major life change for her to realize that she should just go for it. “There will always be doubts,” she says, so the Smithfield, RI, native threw those negative thoughts to the wind and decided to contact modeling agency, The Beauty Within, during her freshman year of college. The Beauty Within is owned by former Victoria’s Secret model Pamela Masucci and is the most reputable company of its kind in the state. This leap of faith shot Fiona into a whirlwind of life-changing opportunities and jump-started her new-found modeling career.

At the time, Fiona was attending Roger Williams University, located in Bristol, RI. She completed a one-year stint at this school and decided to transfer to her parents’ alma mater, Providence College, to finish her four-year Marketing degree. As a Marketing major, Fiona has discovered more connections to her hobby than she’d had ever imagined. By working with the many talented individuals that she’s come across in the modeling world, a number of key opportunities in Marketing have crossed her path. Fiona was able to snag an internship at Christina K. Pierce Styling and Consulting, a marketing firm for luxury fashion designers in Boston. She views modeling as a career from a new angle: the set up of shows, planning, promotion, and so much more.

Although it’s only been a few years in the biz, Fiona has achieved enough to be considered very experienced in the Rhode Island and Boston modeling circuit. She considers her first “big break” as the opportunity she received to work with Project Runway season 7 designer Jonathan Joseph Peters and Rhode Island’s very own photography superstar Daniel Gagnon. The photo shoot, that she explains as very “editorial, quirky, avante guard, and high fashion,” produced such great images that they were used on Project Runway’s website, and today, two years later, when she shows them to potential clients and agents, she gets astounding feedback.

The highs of this career choice most definitely outweigh the lows, but they are both equally present in Fiona’s life. “I have been so impressed with the amount of support I’ve gotten from everyone, including fellow agency models who are more like my family and completely go against the ‘catty model’ stereotype,” she gushes. Her pictures sometimes pop up in magazines or promotional flyers without her knowledge, so when she’s approached by a family member, friend, or fan who’s recently seen them, Fiona admits it’s really exciting and very humbling. In the earlier stages of her modeling endeavors, she tells us that she would sometimes hear naysayers around her college campus who would look down on her decisions. Although Fiona tried to be a people-pleaser, she came to terms that she would not always be loved by everyone, proudly admitting that, “eventually I learned to have thick skin, brush off these comments, and not be afraid to put myself out there.

So what’s in the works for Miss Hillery now that her time at Providence College is slowly dwindling away (she’s graduating this May)? She tells TwentyTweets that her goals post-graduation, first and foremost, involve a career in the field of her degree. Since her aspirations involve employment in big cities such as Boston or New York, she hopes that once she’s settled, she will be able to put her free time to good use and model while she still has enough youthful time to do so.

As for this year’s Style Week: Providence, it will be Fiona’s fourth season with the event (she’s been involved since its birth in 2010). Not only will she be actively involved in much of the show (the full schedule can be found at StyleWeekProvidence.com), she will be celebrating her 22nd birthday amongst all of the models, photographers, and designers (this Friday, Jan. 27th).

Fiona Fun Facts:

  • Her biggest celebrity/model girl crush is Miranda Kerr, but she idolizes Bridget Bardot for the mere fact she “pretty much mastered the art of classy sex-pot while showing off a curvy figure.”
  • She received a standing ovation at the opening night of Providence Style Week this year during Jonathan Joseph Peter’s show.
  • During an editorial for Newport Life she had to ride a carnival attraction three times in a row…and the terror she portrays is all real. “It probably required some Photoshop, as my face was turning all shades of green,” she jokes. (see right)
  • She’s even modeled with man’s best friend. For Pet Elite magazine, Fiona posed with a playful pooch who was almost too excited for the shoot.
  • She loves studying psychology, astrology (she’s a huge horoscope guru), paranormal research, and conspiracy theories in her free time…hence why she calls herself “weird.” (But we find that awesome!)

For more on Fiona and her modeling career, check out her account on ModelMayhem.com or simply follow her on Twitter @fionabolognaa (two things we can’t wait to do ourselves!)

All photos in this article were provided to us by Fiona herself. We do not claim ownership of any (but we do claim that they’re absolutely amazing).

~B

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