“You have to be determined, confident and incredibly comfortable with yourself to survive.” ~Franki Holton
The Renegade Spotlight on DaveUrsillo.com is a new feature that showcases the biographies and real-life stories of everyday “Renegades” — men and women who, while brandishing a defiantly positive and determined mindset, are pursuing their dreams in spite of criticism, cynicism, and being misunderstood by those around them.
Today, I’d like you to meet my friend Franki, a talented writer who I met in 2009 thanks to Twitter. I’ve gotten to know Franki for her wonderful sense of humor and very positive mindset that — as this Renegade Spotlight will showcase — have buoyed her spirit as she makes great strides in the modeling industry.
Together on DaveUrsillo.com, we are building an inspired community of genuine dream-pursuers — the Ranks of the Renegades — who are striving to change the world. We are the Renegades. Are you among our ranks?
1.) Introduce yourself!
Hi, I’m Franki Holton and I’m a 26-year-old British model and writer currently living in Hollywood, Los Angeles. I’m an avid soccer fan and player, and feel most at home down the pub. I was raised in a small village but caught the travel bug early. At 16, I spent a month in Madagascar (yes, like the movie) trekking through rain forest to build schools for the tribes living there. Through modeling over the last seven years, I’ve lived in seven different countries, from Cyprus to South Africa and worked on shoots everywhere from Beirut to the Bahamas.
Writing has followed me all the way (well, you’ve got to do something on all those flights) and I’m scribbling down two novels while writing for mags such as GQ. Now set up in L.A., my fiancé and I are also concentrating on all things film; looking to act, produce and one day direct. I keep a note of all these crazy ventures on my blog, www.frankiholton.wordpress.com.
2.) What dreams are you pursuing?
I am a big fan of dreams. My advice is go enormous or go home. Why not? If you open yourself up to something, it’s incredible what you can let in. It’s not easy to take risks and it’s really hard to keep positive every single day, so they give you something to hold on to.
In the short-term, I want to apply for my green card, learn to speak with an American accent and study more acting theory. I also want to learn sign-language and how to juggle fire… but that’s another story. In the long term I want to be a published author, an acclaimed actress and an award-winning director (I said, “enormous”) with charities setting up soccer schools in underprivileged areas internationally.
They have shaped every part of my life. I never truly understood what I wanted to do “when I grew up” but I knew what I didn’t and thought that was a good place to start. A 9-to-5 wouldn’t cut it — I didn’t want to be holed up in an office and I don’t like being told what to do (got to be honest, right?).
I can’t stand routine, and the thought of piling all my energy into something I wasn’t a hundred percent invested in drove me nuts. That’s why I gave up my placement at UMIST University studying International Business and took a year out to “see what happens.” Two days later I was scouted by the biggest modeling agency in London, and a month later I was living in New York.
I try to keep my eye on the end goal and let the rest work itself out naturally — you have to take both highs and lows in perspective and keep believing it will happen. It can be a difficult lifestyle choice as you’re sacrificing stability and entertaining risk, but if that’s what it takes for me to be happy… I’m up for it.
4.) What has pursuing your dreams taught you about yourself? About others? About life?
I’ve realized how strong I can be, how easy it is to adapt and just how much I’ve stopped caring about what other people think. I now know there is reason to follow your heart and from experiencing the highs and lows of such a roller-coaster lifestyle — because believe me modeling ain’t as glam as you’d think — I have understood how to face up to a situation and to take control no matter how bad it gets. Of course, having a strong and reliant family base has proved invaluable, but I now know I can handle a great deal myself.
With regards to other people, I’ve realized not everyone finds it easy to live like I do and that’s what makes the world go round — there’s no right answer. We all need different things to be secure and happy, and responsibilities and circumstances can change instantly. So, it’s taught me to accept individuals for who they are and refrain from judgment.
Pursuing your dreams is life. But the most important lesson I learned is that we mustn’t be afraid of breaking the mould. I came from a strict academic background where school led to university, which is where I’d be headhunted for a job, earn a pension and then retire to a bungalow. It was difficult to stand up and say, that’s not what I want, I’m going to try it another way, but once you make that first step it can be endlessly rewarding.
5.) Do you have any special methods or practices that help you along the way? What are your sources of inspiration?
As my Mum would say, “It’s all about breathing.” I do a lot of counting to ten and deep breathing in times of panic. Everything is OK as long as you’re still breathing. Bach’s ‘Rescue Remedy’ is also a lifesaver.
My entire job revolves around performance, being judged, and rejection; so it’s important to learn about turning every situation you possibly can into a positive one, excavating that silver lining wherever possible and trying not to take anything personally. It’s hard but you develop a thick skin that’s a lot more comfortable.
My lovely fiancé, family and friends all over the world inspire me to follow my dreams, become whoever I want to be and do what I think is right to be happy. I’m lucky to have such accepting influences. There’s also plenty of books, poetry, films, art and even cartoons that inspire my creativity, showcase other people’s talents and push me to do more every time I achieve something.
6.) Do cynics, doubters and pessimists affect you and your pursuits? If so, how? If not, do you avoid them, tune them out, use them to your advantage, etc.?
I’m a blonde model — it’s par for the course, really. My life revolves around a stereotype in a misunderstood industry that connects physical beauty with stupidity. People assume all models are told they’re beautiful all the time, but that couldn’t be farther from the truth. On the job itself, the casting process is intense and intimidating: egos and energy fly. You have to be determined, confident and incredibly comfortable with yourself to survive. I once had the words “TOO FAT” written across my modeling card right in front of me. It takes a lot to go out there again.
My way is to concentrate on the job I’m going for and forget about the competition, everyone is nervous no matter how calm they seem, everyone feels embarrassed, gets jealous and it’s much more fun not to care what other people think as unfortunately we humans tend to love to hate. In everyday situations, I used to shy away from telling people I was a model because they’d assume I was dumb and I’d have to spend the evening proving my intelligence. Now, I’m not ashamed to talk about it — let people make their own conclusions. I’m happy, healthy and loved and that’s all that really matters.
Are you or is someone you know a genuine Renegade? Your story can be here on DaveUrsillo.com in the new Renegade Spotlight feature! Send me an email! Tell the world your story, inspire hundreds of men and women, and get your name and face known by thousands of fellow Renegades across the world!
Photo credit (runway photo): Vivien Photos