Behind the scenes, a photoshoot can look chaotic: Hair stylists, makeup artists, wardrobe stylists, production equipment. For a seasoned model, this is a common scene, standard fare. For social media users, the glitz and glamour is tantalizing, and draws swarms of devoted fans. But for models Destiny Sierra and Natascha Elisa, life as a model quickly became mundane.
“Natascha and myself got to a point in our modeling careers where we felt unfulfilled and wanted to use our network and influence through social media to do good things, not just self promote,” said 26-year-old Sierra.
In early 2015, they started a non-profit called Models of Compassion.
“We have been around about a year now,” Sierra told Epoch Times, “We both had the exact same vision for Models of Compassion and our vision has now become a reality!”
Models of Compassion, co-founded by Elisa and Sierra, is a “not-for-profit organization that brings together influencers to raise awareness and volunteer for those in need,” according to its website. The organization, which has over 50 influencers—models who have a sizeable social media presence and wish to use it to do good—currently has a social media leverage of 30 million. Sierra says the mission is simple: Inspire, educate, and bring awareness “to make a positive impact on a local and global scale.”
The bridging of influencers allows for a greater reach and works as a social network of support and information for those wanting to make a difference. The models also have a combined Instagram following of 135,000.
Sierra’s love for animals—especially endangered species—developed after she volunteered for The Black Jaguar White Tiger Foundation, started by her friend, Eduardo Serio.
Elisa, a native of Australia, has volunteered with the Australian Red Cross, MS Australia, and the Fred Hollows Foundation. The shared love of philanthropic work between the two friends have solidified a bond that will likely continue to play a major role in their lives post modeling.
“Our ultimate life goal would be either to travel the world visiting small countries in need, finding out their needs and solutions to their problems and then communicating and campaigning what we have learned to teach others how to help,” said Sierra.
They also expressed interest in starting a project to help animals. Sierra described a possible scenario, living on “a massive area of land where we have created a self sufficient and sustainable animal sanctuary rescuing animals in need.”
But for now, as working models, Sierra and Elisa aren’t compromising their beliefs for contracts.
“Natascha and I both have brought our views into our careers because no matter what price we are offered, neither of us would model fur or eat meat for a commercial like Carl’s Jr.,” said Sierra. “We try to keep our presence on social media balanced between self branding and promotion with a good mixture of causes we feel passionate about to bring awareness to our followers. We also try to keep our self branding true to who we are and stay as genuine and real as possible.”
Branding at times can be restrictive, particularly when followers are drawn to one persona and aren’t receptive to change. But while this can result in negative feedback or a loss of followers, the young models aren’t worried about that.
Sierra sums it up: “Times are changing and people don’t want to see just boring perfection and selfies all day long, they want to see depth, real feelings, truth, inner beauty, and relatable content.”