I was so excited to invite Melissa to our FL&B photo shoot for our #THISISMYBEAUTY hashtag campaign a few months ago. I've been following her for awhile and loved her "real-ness". If your'e not follwing her now, check our her page, especially her Vlog and InstaStories @melissalingram for good laughs and some honest stories. Speaking of " honest" one my favorite photo shoot campaigns she was on, in which some of you may recognize her from was Jessica Alba's line "The Honest Company".
Beside's the fact that Melissa is a beautiful ( inside-out) model who radiates God's love, she's a mommy to a sweet baby girl we all had the pleasure to gu and ga over. I felt so grateful she drove across the valley to the South Bay with her newborn wanting to be a part of this. These are the moments I step back, look around and then look up with a thankful heart. I'm so undeserving of all this and its all truly God's works. I hope you truly find something in this interview I wrote up that may enlighten your hearts. Thanks for following along.- Gina Caraballo- Founder, FL&B
This is our beauty- the raw, honest and sometimes hard to read chapters of our lives. We do this for YOU, in hopes that you may be encouraged today. #THISISMYBEAUTY
Share something really awkward about yourself, I know you’re not shy in this department, I’ve watched your vlogs and I thoroughly enjoy your “ awkwardness “ lol. Please do share some more…
M: Well, I like to eat butter. It started when I was a kid. My late grandma was from Europe at a time when butter was a delicacy. She would give me a little piece of butter to eat when I would come over. It created a monster. Ok it’s not that serious I only do it on occasion and it’s not spoonfuls.
Also I enjoy silly dancing. I can dance, I took dance and cheer for years, but you would never know it. I would rather silly dance then dance for real.
What are some of your go-to sources for inspiration.
M: Podcasts! I listen to a lot of sermons, as well as entrepreneurial podcasts.
Sermons remind me of where my true inspiration comes from, which is God. They might remind me of who I am in Him, or they might convict me and put my mind back on the right path. No matter what I’m inspired by the end of it.
The entrepreneurial ones are so inspiring because they are often filled with lessons from failure, and how people started with nothing. I often finish those feeling unstoppable. Also a good book inspires me!
My go to podcasts are: StartupCamp, Elevation Church Podcast, and Entrepreneur On Fire
Books that have rocked my world:
Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg
Start by Jon Acuff
1000 Gifts by Ann Voskamp
The Gifts of Imperfection by Brene Brown
Speaking of Jesus by Carl Medearis
I saw passion when I met you, what fuels your fire?
M: Jesus. It’s not some cliche answer for me He really is what fuels my fire.I get so excited for the opportunity to meet new people simply so that I can show them Jesus through my own actions. I get the chance to love on people, invest in their lives, and offer encouragement or a listening ear.I am eager to give others the same love and grace God gives me everyday.I am super passionate about people knowing their worth and the only way to know one's worth is to know Christ, so I’m going to do my very best to show others who He is.
How did your modeling career get started?
M: That’s a crazy story. Since I was a kid I have been approached multiple times for modeling, nothing ever came of it. After graduating high school and giving my life to Christ I wanted nothing to do with it. As a Christian woman, I was not going to go into such a crazy industry.
Years later I was approached about it again and my immediate response was to pray it away. Instead of taking it away, God opened my eyes to the darkness and the hurt that is within the industry. I felt that God was calling me to be a light in the dark place, offering genuine love and support to people that are so often placed on pedestals and judged.
I sought a ton of wise counsel, and spent a lot of time praying and studying God’s word to make sure I was going into this for the right reasons. Even after all of the confirmation it still took me almost a year to find the courage to move forward.
I had no idea where to start, I came across a small agency and asked if they take short people I’m 5’5 and for fashion models the industry minimum is usually 5’8. I mustered up all the courage I could, said a million prayers and my sister in law and I made our way to LA to their open call. I walked in with my head held high, portfolio in hand, which was a few 5x7 pictures I printed at Walmart that my friends had taken, and was rejected.
It was the best feeling in the world! I’m serious. I walked out of there so proud of myself for being obedient to what God told me, and for facing my fears.
Before making the long trek back home we decided to walk to Starbucks down the street. While I was standing in line a woman named Kelly approached me asking if I modeled, I said no (I’m a little shy sometimes), my sister in law said, “Yes! That’s what she’s here for!”. Kelly proceeded to tell us she was creating a clothing line with Justin Biebers best friend. They were doing a shoot for it the following week and one of her models dropped out. She was just sitting there talking to her friend about it and how she didn’t know what she was going to do until she saw me walk in the door and she thought I would be perfect for it.
I was in complete shock and it was a good thing my sister in law was there to speak for me. After researching Kelly and verifying everything she said I ended up doing the shoot the next week. It was the most crazy experience, everything clicked. Like I said my goal in all of this was to love on people so that was my focus the whole time, Kelly and I clicked really well and learned she was close friends with my husband’s aunt, the First Lady of Belize!
Kelly and I kept in touch, and months later she asked if I needed any connections to the modeling world. At that point I had only been to one audition since meeting her. I had bombed that audition, but again with my focus being loving others I connected with another person there who ended up praying over me and my career. Without me even telling her my reasoning for being there, she prayed I would be a light in this dark place.
Kelly ended up introducing me to one of her best friends, Mia, who is a talent manager. Mia and I met, again my focus was love, we clicked, she became my manager and the rest is history!
That was only 3 years ago, it’s been a crazy, scary, amazing ride!
Working as a Model in L.A. have you ever had a casting agent ever tell you in some way “ You’re not good enough. “
M: I’ve told myself I’m not good enough.
Rejection is a huge part of this job, it’s easy to take it personally. The reality is either they don’t know what they are looking for or they are looking for something super specific.
I can be called to a casting and before I even get there I have already told myself I’m not good enough before anyone else has the chance.
How did you deal with that?
M: I deal with thinking I’m not good enough by switching my focus from myself, to God. I focus on His loving kindness and the grace that I don’t deserve. I’m instantly reminded that as long as He is in me I am enough, because He is enough.There is nothing that I lack that He cannot cover.
What would you like to say to anyone reading this who may sometimes feel like they’re not pretty enough, smart enough, or simply not good enough?
to be continued in part 2...