Here at PI, our own Christi Given will be conducting interviews with those who are making an impact on society and helping to change the world for the better. The new segment, called “Q&A,” will consist of interviews with speakers, leaders, pastors, models, actors, musicians, teachers and current innovators of our day. We want to shine a light on those who are an inspiration to others!
Brittney Sharaun, a former America’s Top Model contestant, tells us she always knew there was a bigger purpose for her life aside from modeling and walking the runway. She shares about her faith; the organization for the homeless she started, called Burgers and Bibles; her passion to speak to young people with ELEV8; and her dreams of becoming Miss California to help change the world. Brittney desires a life of service in which she is loving others and lifting them up to their God-given purpose!
CG: So I understand you’re a model and a former Top Model contestant. Tell me about your modeling, and when did you feel God call you to this industry?
BS: Modeling is something that I’ve always wanted to do since I was a little girl. Aside from being awkwardly tall, 5’11” in the eighth grade, lanky and naturally thin, I’ve always felt like it was something that I was called to do. Growing up, I often felt…like I never fit in. Modeling…was a place where being tall and lanky was the norm and considered beautiful! It was a place where I would be appreciated just for being me! Growing up being teased and ridiculed, modeling was that way out. It gave me hope…to know that there was somewhere that I belonged, a place for people with big personalities, long legs, thin frames and unique features like me! I knew God was calling me to it when I asked him His plan for me and he gave me a vision of me modeling.
CG: What have you learned by living in Los Angeles as a Christian in general and in the modeling industry in particular?
BS: In the modeling industry, I’ve learned that nothing is handed to you. You have to take control of your career and create the life that you want for yourself! Oftentimes we sit back and leave our career solely in the hands of our manager or agents, then complain when things aren’t happening. The plan God has for you is too valuable to just give away to someone other than God. You have to manage and guard it according to the instructions God gave you regarding it. It’s also important to align yourself with people, agents and managers who understand it and believe in you.
By living in Los Angeles as a Christian, I’ve learned the importance of community. As simple as it sounds, it’s something that I am still learning today. It’s so easy to get caught up in your career or just become comfortable with being alone, but we weren’t created to be alone! We need community, people who will stand by us and not just take from us, but also pour into us. We need other girls who we can just chill with, pray with, talk with or just be silly with!
It’s sad to say, but there was a point of time in my life where I didn’t think I needed any of this. I thought that I was okay with it just being God and me. I learned that this is far from the truth and I have now dedicated myself to at least trying to cultivate and stay in relationships with the people that God has placed in my life. I’m naturally introverted, so I literally have to remind myself to make time for a social life and just to be with girlfriends.
CG: What confidence do you have or carry with you when you audition for certain jobs?
BS: The confidence that I carry when I audition for jobs is a confidence deeply rooted in faith. I go in knowing and believing that what God has for me is for me! If I am supposed to book that particular job, then it will happen, and there is nothing that can come in between the will of God! Knowing that frees me from any insecurities that I may have at the time and gives me all of the assurance I need to go in with confidence. This is an approach I apply not to only jobs, but also to life in general.
In addition, I walk in with a “giving” mind-set versus a “getting” mind-set. Most people walk in to “GET” an audition or approach life like they are there to “get” something (getting mind-set). When you have a giving mind-set, your whole demeanor changes, and you are free to be you and there is no fear of not getting the job in your way.
CG: What are you passionate about?
BS: I am passionate about love. I am passionate about people feeling loved, being loved…being authentically them, enjoying life and living to their full potential! I am passionate about equality and justice. I am passionate about building people up…I am passionate about the underprivileged enjoying the same standard of living and rights as the privileged majority, or at least not being held back by the economic status that they were born into. I am passionate about telling the untold stories. I am passionate about life!
CG: Why did you start Burgers and Bibles?
BS: I started Burgers and Bibles two years ago, shortly after I moved to Los Angeles from Chicago. I was 20, had just signed with Elite LA and was doing what I loved—modeling—but still didn’t feel satisfied. Deep down, I knew that there was a purpose for my life that was bigger than walking the runway and posing for pictures. I’ve never been content with just being a model. However, I’ve always had the desire to make a lasting positive impact on the world and the lives of people in it. I have always had a heart for the homeless and it only increased after I moved to Los Angeles.
One of the first things that I did when I moved here was climb a mountain and pray that God would reveal more of his plan for me and give me his heart. Through that prayer, Burgers and Bibles was conceived. I created it with the intention of positively changing and restoring the lives of homeless individuals in the world through love and conversation, and to create opportunities for my friends in the industry (and others) to get outside of themselves and serve. The idea was not just to feed their physical body with food, but also their soul by having Bibles for those who wanted them, and having love and encouragement. It continues to grow more and more every day, and it’s a beautiful thing to see the impact that it has had.
More than modeling, serving on skid row and speaking in schools to the youth is where I feel most alive. I believe we are all called to something more than the jobs we work to pay bills. You really don’t start living until you figure out what that something more is that has nothing to do with you, but benefits the life of someone else.
CG: What are your dreams and aspirations?
BS: I have SO many dreams and aspirations, and it’s beautiful to watch them come to pass! Some of these dreams include having rehabilitation centers around the world that meet the holistic needs of the homeless and restore them from the streets. I also aspire to write children’s books and to be a best-selling children’s author, have my own talk show for the youth and one day my very own television network, also for the youth. I believe teens are often overlooked and there isn’t much media for them. I want to create entertaining and positive content that changes this. I also see myself working in politics and lobbying for various causes that I stand for.
Lastly, I want to become Miss California so I can do what I currently do now as a youth speaker, but on a larger scale and mentor teens around the world. I want to travel and make a difference not only in the U.S., but also in various countries across the globe. I want to be an example to all that dreams really do come true. It doesn’t matter where you came from, what family you were born into, what mistake you made, how wealthy you are or if you have a crown on your head. We all are kings and queens and can do anything that we put our minds to. This is my story and I want to share it with the world.
CG: How has your faith carried you in life?
BS: I wouldn’t be where I am today if it weren’t for faith. Faith gave me hope in the times when it looked like my dreams were impossible. Faith kept me going when I was eliminated from America’s Next Top Model. Faith builds me up when I feel down, insecure and alone…I don’t know where I would be without it.
CG: Do you have any wisdom or encouragement for young girls seeking what they should pursue in life?
BS: I have one very practical answer: Ask God. The End! 🙂 Whenever I was unsure of where I was headed or just what to do, I would humbly ask God and He would always show me enough to keep me moving. He is a God that hears us and answers. I would also say be patient and don’t think you have to have it all figured out now. Serve in your community, do the things that you love, discover what your talents, skills and gifts are. Don’t forget to enjoy the journey!
CG: How did you get involved with ELEV8?
BS: I started working with ELEV8 shortly after I moved to Los Angeles. Friends of mine knew that I was a speaker back in Chicago and connected me with ELEV8. After learning about what they aspired to do through the organization to touch the lives of teens, I immediately jumped on board.
CG: Your website is brittneysharaun.com. Where else can we follow you?
CG: Thank you so much, Brittney, for your time and for answering all of my questions for the PI Girls!
What do you think, PI Girls–does Brittney inspire you? Who would you like to see us do a Q&A with?!
[Images: BrittneySharaun.com + Project Inspired]