Born and raised in Memphis, Genetta Lillian has established herself as a professional model and brand ambassador. She considers herself creative and never had a problem being in front of people growing up. “I was involved in music and played guitar for 13 years,” she told BookedOut by Shiftgig. “When Facebook first came out, I was always aking selfies and posting on social media.” These photographs became an outlet for Genetta Lillian’s creativity and, looking back, had a lot to do with her decision to pursue modeling.
In 2011, Genetta Lillian decided to actualize her passion for modeling and fashion, but quickly found that her dream job was more difficult than she anticipated. “People told me you needed thousands of dollars to get started. Luckily I had a friend of mine, Mallory Miller, who needed to build her [photography] portfolio. I was contacted by Rupert Yen, who was well known in Memphis. I did a test shoot with him and eventually joined Model Mayhem.”
For the next two years, Genetta Lillian honed her skills. She enjoyed being part of a non-exclusive agency, but wanted to be taken more seriously. People were constantly telling her she would not succeed and wasn’t going to be able to support herself. With only two promotional gigs from the agency, Genetta Lillian knew she needed to figure out a new way to survive and make her dream become a reality.
It was at this point that she realized she needed to take the time to transform her passion into career.
“I ended up doing some more promotions with a Nissan GT-R group in Miami…I did a hair show with Wella as well. That’s when I met up with a model friend of mine who told me how she booked events every weekend,” Genetta Lillian explained. Her friend had a system and it involved a lot more than working as a model.
Up until that point, Genetta Lillian had not learned the difference between terms like modeling, demo, promotions and brand ambassadors. “So she clarified it for me.,” Genetta Lillian said. “When I got to wear the company’s logo on a t-shirt, I thought to myself, I really enjoy doing that. And when she gave me her system, I noticed that these agencies weren’t modeling agencies. So I started working events as a brand ambassador.” And she loved it.
Confident in her friend’s system of organization and booking, Genetta Lillian continued to find gigs through Google and miscellaneous promo companies. She found herself applying and reapplying for everything. “The key,” she said, “is being persistent, reapplying, and keeping a running spreadsheet of agencies and jobs you’ve been trying to contact.”
Eventually, Genetta Lillian found BookedOut by Shiftgig. She liked keeping her resume updated on the app and loved it’s ability upload photos. Overall, she was impressed with its ease-of-use, marketplace-like environment and single-sourced payment system.
In 2015, Genetta Lillian set a goal to get booked for a gig every single week of the year. Using her newly adapted system, she felt ready and eager. “I had a strategy: when I didn’t have a lot of brand ambassador photos, I used modeling photos. I started with all that I had,” which included her ability to drive across state lines.
As a smaller goal, Genetta Lillian set her mind to working an activation with the Country Music Awards (CMA), an extremely competitive and coveted position. She was told that she needed experience in order to work the activations, and she had it, but not in a CMA-specific role type. That didn’t stop her. A few weeks later, Genetta Lillian found herself on her way to Nashville to prove that she knew the business.
“There were about 20 of us. Start to finish, we had two breaks a day and were in constant heat – a few people dropped out because of the heat. We had to stay energetic. We were around corporate, secret shoppers. There were a lot of people there and we had to have a lot of energy to do our job right.” The corporate personnel fell in love with her spark and passion for what she was doing. The third day of the activation, Genetta Lillian was offered to work another activation at the CMA’s. She took the opportunity to add another brand to her resume.
At the end of the year, Genetta Lillian achieved her goal. She traveled to over 22 states and worked with over 65 brands.
Despite her challenges, Genetta Lillian refused to believe the people who told her she couldn’t do it and she stayed positive, fighting through her hardships. “When people tell you that you can’t do something, you can.” She said, “You are able to do anything that you set your mind to. People might be jealous or don’t believe in you, but it only matters what you think and what you think you can do.”
Genetta Lillian wants brand ambassadors to take any negativity to fuel their ambitions. “Never say never, always say not yet.”