MY NEW YORK: AMELIA GRAY
Model on the rise Amelia Gray, details how her move to NYC was a catalyst for self-rediscovery
Model on the rise Amelia Gray, details how her move to NYC was a catalyst for self-rediscovery
There comes a time in every young twenty-something’s life when the past must be shed in order to make room for authenticity. Self-discovery prospers when the slate is cleared and along with it, the noise of others’ opinions. Growing up in the public eye, Amelia Gray knows just how easy it is to be put into comfortable little boxes. “The reality TV girl”, “the model chick”—labels thrown onto her name to make her just that more easily understandable for public consumption, paying no mind to her wide-ranging interests and personal passions. For a while, the LA-native and daughter of perhaps the most recognizable Beverly Hills Housewife, Lisa Rinna, went along with it. But now with a metamorphic move to New York and a groundbreaking new view on life, Gray refuses to conform to your expectations.
As a trailblazer of her own path, the emerging icon has dropped the “Hamlin” to quite literally create a name for herself. Amelia Gray: a modelesque moniker that rids her of past ties for uninhibited beginnings. “Coming here, I realized that I didn’t want to go back to the place that kept me in a confined box,” Gray reflects. “I’ve realized that no box really defines me and that’s okay. I like that, I like being original.”
I don’t have to remind you of the well-known adage that “if you can make it here, you can make it anywhere”, but perhaps it’s well known for a reason. Take Gray’s rising star. Since transplanting across the country from her native Los Angeles, the model has been booked and busier than ever before, featured on magazine covers and strutting down catwalks for every big name from Richard Quinn to LaQuan Smith. In just six short months of Manhattan-living, Gray has synthesized her varied artistic passions, some life-long and others newly found, and as a result, catapulted her fashion career to new heights.
New Yorkers take the city’s energy for granted but seeing it through fresh eyes gives perspective on the electricity of the storied metropolis. “There’s inspiration everywhere in this city. It’s really kept me going and has been a really big chance of self-discovery,” says Gray. “I’ve learned so much about myself and I just can’t imagine living anywhere else now.”
Check out episode 2 of V Magazine’s second season of “My New York” created in collaboration with Milk Makeup.
Stay tuned for new episodes launching every Friday here on Vmagazine.com, the series will spotlight NYC's movers-and-shakers as they guide us through the formative spots in the city that have inspired and cultivated their craft.
Read the exclusive interview with Amelia Gray below!
V Magazine: So, you were born and raised in Los Angeles. Why did you choose to move to New York City?
Amelia Gray: I chose to move to New York because of the inspiration. I grew up in LA, I was born and raised there, and it sort of became like Groundhog’s Day. I was really lacking creativity and a different way of life and I just needed a change. I actually just came [to New York] for fashion week at the end of August and I just never left. Before I moved, I was in a place where I was following what everyone else was doing but there was no passion behind it. I knew that I was very passionate about this craft, modeling, and everything about it. I think that if you were to ask me a year ago if I would define myself as a creative person, I probably would question myself before answering. But now I think if you were to ask me, I would say 100%. I thrive off of creativity and that’s what I need in order to flourish and really truly be me. Coming here in August, I realized that I didn’t want to go back to the place that kept me in a confined box. I wanted to break out of that box and figure out what box I really wanted to be in—if any. Over the course of the last 6 months of living here, no box really defines me and that’s okay. I like that, I like being original. When I was living in LA, I didn’t want to be original. I just kept conforming and kept following. I think that’s what truly made me fall in love with this city: how I felt and who I started to become in the small amount of time that I was here for fashion week. And then I just went to LA and packed up my whole entire life and haven’t left.
V: As a recent transplant to New York, how is the energy of the city different from that of Los Angeles?
AG: I think that the energy of the people here, it’s kind of like “hustle”. And “don’t stop hustling until you get what you want”. In LA, it’s kind of like, “well, why would I wanna hustle if I don’t have to?”. This is nothing against LA—I’m from LA, it’s home forever. But I think that a lot has to do with the way that the cities are mapped out. When you’re in New York, you walk around. You’re always immersed in the city with the people and the place. The second you step outside, there’s just so much chaos around you which lies so much inspiration. Whereas in LA, that creativity aspect is kind of lacking. On top of that, I think the ways of life are very different. My routine in LA is waking up slowly, not really knowing what I’m gonna do for the rest of my day, having to get in my car and drive, and just feeling kind of stuck. I have realized with this new self-discovery of the New York version of myself, that I am someone that really thrives off of the go-go-go nonstop of this city. You walk outside and there’s something to do. I think that that could be super overwhelming for people but for me, right now, in the place that I’m in, it’s perfect.
V: That’s super sweet. In what ways has the city helped you to reclaim a more authentic version of yourself?
AG: I have learned so much about myself here, it’s actually wild. That’s a big reason why I took you guys to Casa Magazines because I feel like I kinda entered into that growth on this one day when my friend took me and she was like, “We’re doing this whole day, we’re scrapbooking, we’re setting our intentions for this year in New York and we’re just gonna get super creative today”. I didn’t really understand. I think I’ve always judged myself when it comes to art because I’ve never thought that I was someone that was super good at art. Having that day at Casa and doing what we did and scrapbooking really opened my eyes to the whole entire production that’s behind modeling and fashion. To hold this book in your hand and be able to inspire people, like me, was the coolest feeling. I realized that I had such a passion for styling and photography and creative direction, too. Creative direction is something that I still am learning and I wanna get really into. I think that [New York] made me realize that I’m cool and I need to embrace myself more and do me and follow my path and not listen to anyone. It’s really allowed me to unapologetically be myself.
V: That’s amazing, you’re becoming a multi-hyphenate.
AG: I’m trying! (laughs)
V: So besides your growing interest in creative direction, you also obviously model. How did your modeling journey begin?
AG: I got into modeling when I was probably around 8. This is so weird and I have no idea why but I knew that I had to do this since day 1. All my family and friends that have known me since day one will always be like, “You’ve always wanted to do this. You’ve never wanted to do anything else”. Maybe in my past life, I was like, some sort of model that never made it—I don’t know. But this is what I have to do. And I’m not gonna stop until I do it because I have to do it. It all really started when I was 15. My mom told me to wait and I hated her for it. I definitely should’ve listened to her, I was not ready at 15. But I think now that I’ve had this self re-discovery, I would say I’ve really just started 6 months ago.
V: It sounds like it’s been a lifelong passion. What do you kind of love about modeling?
AG: I’ve discovered that I’m a very creative and artistic person. I think that modeling, for me, is my medium. Just like any artist has their medium—paint or pen or what have you. It’s the way that I get to create art and I get to have self-expression. There’s something so beautiful about it. I’m a pretty shy person at first and I tend to be pretty reserved, but I feel like when I’m in front of a camera and I’m in my outfit, I just change. The whole entire world around me just stops. I don’t see anyone around me, I’m just completely in this present moment. You embody this character. Amelia goes away, lights are off and the character comes out. For me, runway has always been the main goal and the dream. I’ve been lucky enough to walk a few incredible shows so far in my career and the feeling is truly so surreal. Runway is like nothing else because there’s so much stress and adrenaline behind it. You’re the main character. It’s the most powerful, incredible experience ever, truly.
V: You obviously come from a family in the spotlight and a mother who is well versed in the public eye. How has your family influenced your modeling journey?
AG: I’m really lucky for my family and I think that the older I get, the more I appreciate them and truly realize that. My mom has played a huge part in this journey for me. She and my grandma, both. They’ve always, always, always told me “Never give up. Just keep going, work as hard as you possibly can, be nice to everyone”. My mom has given me the best advice ever. My mom and my dad’s work ethic was really ingrained into me. She would never let me give up. There were times—and there probably will still be times—where I feel like I should. But she helps me keep going.
V: When you’re not busy modeling, what are some things you like to do to pass time in New York?
AG: I really like to just walk around. I’m still getting to know the city. I could not tell you left from right yet here, so I try to walk around as much as possible and get a feel of the city and learn the streets and the grid system—whatever that means. And then I will just take photos with my friends and take videos on our VHS and we are just constantly creating. Every single day, I do something here that benefits my creativity and that’s what I love.
V: Your career has been on the up and up since moving here. If you had to set a goal for the future, what would it be?
AG: My goal in the next five years would be to walk the Versace show. 100%. I think actually a huge bucket list of mine has been to work with V so I’m super grateful for this experience and everyone that’s a part of it. Left and right, my dreams are coming to fruition and it’s this feeling that I wish I could put in a bottle and let everyone experience because truly I don’t know how to put it into words. Some days, I’m just in bed and I just start crying because I never want it to stop, you know? [tears up] It’s really cool. It’s New York!
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