NEW YORK CITY – In high school, people would ask Colby Brittain if he was a model, and if he wasn’t, he should be. He took it as a sign and signed with his first modeling agency in Tulsa.
Brittain initially thought he would go to college to play sports or have a career in the medical field.
“I would just have people come up to me all the time and they would either ask me if I did model or tell me that I should,” he said. “That happened so many times that I finally told my mom, I said ‘look I think this is a sign.’ I mean it just happened so many times, there’s no way that this is something I shouldn’t do. It was just kind of one of those feelings.”
Though he signed with an agency in Tulsa, he and other models attended an expo in Dallas and he ended up with offers from agencies across the country.
“I think I got like 32 callbacks from everybody there,” he said. “So I had options to sign with agencies in New York and over in Milan (Italy) and L.A., Chicago. Even like Mexico and stuff. I ended up signing with Kim Dawson in Dallas.”
He said after modeling there for a year for companies such as JC Penney, he got to model in New York City, signing with DNA Modeling Agency, where he has been since 2015.
“I think it was June of 2015, I went to New York and I met with agencies and I signed with an agency called DNA,” he said. “That’s pretty much how I got to New York. I was there in June and July, I came back home, and then I moved to New York full time in January of 2016.”
He did runway modeling in Men’s Fashion Week and commercial modeling and his biggest break was shooting a campaign for the clothing company Aeropostale.
“My biggest job that I did when I first started was for Aeropostale,” he said. “It was a national campaign. One of my goals when I first got to New York was to be in Times Square on the big screen. So that was a pretty cool experience. Aeropostale had a store there in Times Square and I got to see myself up on the big screen there.”
Brittain has also modeled for other popular brands. “I shot for Ralph Lauren doing e-comm, which is internet work for them. Men’s Warehouse, I do a lot of stuff for their website, and I also shot their campaign and I was in all of their stores nationwide. Warby Parker is an eyeglasses company; they’re getting really, really popular.”
Brittain has been on a whirlwind since his career began in 2014. In the midst of it, he has managed to go to college and earn a bachelor’s degree in business care management. He has also been accepted to New York University to pursue his master’s degree.
“I just got accepted into NYU for grad school. I’m going to get my master’s in public health. And I’ll start that in fall,” he said. “Initially I planned on going to med school, I wanted to be a doctor. I can see myself working in New York or wherever in public health and then hopefully one day coming back home and providing my knowledge and expertise to the (Cherokee) Nation and working for the (Cherokee) Nation.”
He said one thing he’s learned about the modeling industry is staying true to himself, despite jobs he may or may not get. “Don’t let the industry sway how you feel about yourself and your confidence level and things like that. You go to a bunch of castings and you might book one out of 20, you know. So it’s just staying confident and being yourself.”
He said he’s also used his career as a platform to shed light on being Cherokee and educating others.
“I get to work with people from all over the world like models from Belgium or South Africa,” he said. “You never know who you’re going to be working with. I take a lot of pride of being able to be on set and saying that I’m Cherokee and speak about my knowledge of the tribe and Native Americans in general and inform people of certain aspects of our way of life.”