Olivia Ponton is an eighteen-year-old model signed with Wilhelmina, who also has amassed over 2M fans on the viral Gen Z app, TikTok, on her platform @iamoliviaponton. The Teen Magazine got the chance to talk to her about her careers, dreams, and positivity in social media, along with a virtual photo shoot with fashion photographer Kate-Yeonjae Jeong.
When did you first get noticed on social media sites? What was it like?
My Instagram grew very fast around last fall, due to me traveling quite often. I joined TikTok around November, and my dance videos really took off! I received many comments and direct messages asking me about my workout routines, which also became a huge hit. I posted a lot of my exercising videos, and it was so amazing being able to help and support others to have a healthier body and mindset. Being noticed on social media is definitely a cool feeling, and I’m definitely liking what I’m doing right now.
dc @cynthiaparkerrrr :))) i getting my hair done today AYEEE♬ PATEK REMIX - suosevy
What was your experience with becoming and working as a model like?
It was definitely scary, especially with the large number of so many different agencies. I would browse their websites with portfolios of all their current models, and seeing all the beautiful girls intimidated me. But now that I am signed and am a model, it is so wonderful because I have an agent that really wants what is best for me. Having management supporting my career so I can branch out with exciting opportunities is so incredible, especially when you hear of industries trying to profit off people.
Currently, my modeling is at a halt right now, due to the coronavirus pandemic. I signed about a year ago, and as for the downsides, some people view it as a place where insecurity thrives. While the tall, gorgeous models can be daunting, I have such a homey feeling with my agency and feel it really isn’t a scary business, as they are so nurturing.
What is it like to be an influencer and a model?
It’s the best of both worlds. I wouldn’t trade it for anything, but it sure can be difficult at times to manage both at the same time. I work every day to always do my best to be the best version of myself. I consider modeling to be a more sophisticated industry, with more seriousness, while being an influencer is more light-hearted. It’s an experience that I really enjoy, because I’m doing what I love.
Could you tell us about your scouting story?
I’m on the taller side now, but I actually was a tiny, short girl and only started to grow in the eighth grade. My freshman and sophomore year in high school was when I really grew, which was so shocking because I had always been a naturally small girl. A lot of people suggested to me that I should model, which led me to consider, “Oh my gosh, maybe I should.”
I went to Miami Swim Week and visited some brands- this was back when I still wasn’t signed- and I had so many people asking which agency I was signed with. That cemented my decision to give modeling a shot, so I snapped some photos of myself, which was a very casual process. I submitted to agencies based in Miami, as I’m from Florida and I wanted an agency close to home. Wilhelmina Models was so excited to work with me, and even asked me when I would be moving to start modeling with them! It was such a crazy, surreal experience because I was still in high school back then. I traveled there over spring break this year for some test shoots, and booked a job, but then the COVID-19 struck, leaving me at a stop for now.
What are your future goals?
I am looking to move to New York in the future. I hope to live there on my own at about age nineteen or twenty. I would definitely love to work full time with Wilhelmina.
I also would be interested in working at a cute coffee shop- that has always been something I’ve dreamed about, interestingly- but modeling is for sure something I plan for in the future.
As for school, I’d love to get an Associate in Arts degree and a bachelor’s degree. I aspire to major in architecture and hold an interior design degree. That was something I had planned ever since middle school.
Who is your role model? Who inspires you?
Alexis Ren, 100%. I’ve followed her on social media since forever! She inspires me because she brings awareness to topics that are not spoken about very much. She speaks often about ocean pollution, which is something that resonates with me since I live by the beach. I definitely would love to speak up on my platform about keeping our ocean clean, but as for now, my focus is women’s encouragement and positivity.
Addison Rae is also a role model of mine, because I just absolutely love her positive, bubbly personality. Especially with the negativity that is too common with social media and with so many people being rude about others’ faces and bodies, I find it so moving that she always surrounds herself and spreads love.
Were there any hardships you encountered along the way?
Definitely a yes. I have compared myself with other girls, like many others, with bringing myself down and self-questioning such as, “Why can’t I be them? Why can’t I look like that?”
The hardest is listening to other people say that I wasn’t good enough, or that I didn’t deserve anything. That led to me thinking often that perhaps, maybe they were right. I’ve learned to love myself and be confident, and that is something I really wish to empower.
I’ve also made some mistakes. Everything has ups and downs, and I have learned from past failures and circumstances. Acknowledging the wrong and striving for the right is something that also has brought me closer to self-love.
How do you deal with negativity?
I try my best to not pay attention to what people say. Many things are easier said than done, but opening up my mind is something that helps me focus on positivity.
Another method I use, which I think is pretty cool, is reading up on positivity books. It’s filled with quotes, advice, and sayings that are like food for the soul. I also use my platform to share self reminders and love on my social media platform- which I think is such a lovely way to support and lift up other girls.
What advice and messages do you have for other teens?
I want to encourage them to know their worth. Don’t ever listen to the haters or anything negative.
One thing that I have consistently noticed is that when you check on social media, such as the comment section, it pulls you down into checking the mirror and feeling unworthy. However, I want to say to not direct your attention to the negativity. You should do what makes you happy!
When it comes to spreading positivity, you should treat others the way you want to be treated. I feel it shouldn’t be done in order to expect something in return, but it really does come around like karma- the love will come back right to you!
What is something you want others to know about you?
Culture is something that is so fascinating and intriguing to me. I love traveling because I get to explore lifestyles around the globe.
I feel America all around is somewhat similar in unity, although it can be different. But other countries in continents such as South America and Europe are a huge change, starting from the way of language, cuisine, and lifestyle in general. I would love to experience the world and learn from the journeys.
Fun Facts about Olivia
Home State: Florida
Favorite food: cheeseburgers
Dream travel destination: Bora Bora
Favorite color: Teal
Favorite movie: Anna (not the horror movie), a French film about a model
Modeling Tips from Olivia
- Don’t give up. Ever! Apply to multiple agencies, like I did- I submitted to 3-4 agencies.
The modeling industry is constantly looking for new looks. They may reject you one month, but the next, you may be what they are looking for!
When accepted, make sure that they want what you want. Be sure they are fully supportive of what is best for you, and that they’re not trying to profit off you!