Sunday, July 16, 2017

A Regal beginning, Rhiananna is crowned Miss SL 2017

Author: Julienn Sands
Photographer: Anouk Lefavre

What happens when you combine a deep interest/love of something with a very determined attitude? If you are Rhiananna Janus, you find the much coveted crown of Miss SL 2017 nestled on your head!

Lucky for me, I caught up with Rhiananna at one of her favorite sims, Calais, a beautiful place to relax near the water or take a leisurely boat ride.

I was curious how she began in modeling, and what had influenced her. It turns out she has always enjoyed fashion and experimenting with it in her Second Life. Just playing around with it wasn’t enough for her – “I wanted to go a step further… to put the polish on it and see how far I wanted to (or could) go with it.” With a laugh, she told me that she took to it like a duck to water. She admitted the very beginning of the journey can be rough, and that she dedicated a lot of hours to master aspects she found challenging. Luckily, her friends were very supportive of her, both encouraging her and keeping her grounded.

A model’s life isn’t easy, even in Second Life. I asked her what she felt was the most difficult thing about being a model, and she replied: “Well, I believe that question has two answers, so indulge me if you don't mind.  From a technical point of view, the most difficult thing about going to a show, or getting ready for a walk, is not knowing what you will encounter on-location.  I am talking about that monster we all know, lag.  It affects whether or not you are going to be able to change outfits successfully, or if you will have to leave the site to do so, or even be forced to relog in order to get your outfit to 'take' correctly.  Lag is a huge unknown and always a stress point.  The second part is probably the politics.  Without going further into it, as with any group within SL, there is a fair amount of politics and cliques and being able to navigate them unscathed is quite a skill."

Even in the best crowds, there will be different factions that don't always see eye to eye.  There can be hot rivalries between those crowds or even between individuals, generating potent jealousies.  This can be doubly true for a career as competitive as modeling. Rhiananna’s advice? “I believe silence is golden. When haters attempt to get you involved in their disputes, it is important to remember this is only a way for them to try and annoy you, to perhaps get you to say or do something that won’t be forgotten. I refuse to be lured into that. I just smile, realize exactly what they are trying to do, and just go on with my life. I do not validate them at all.”

The pressures in the modeling industry can be crushing, but Rhiananna manages to cope with it by burying herself in the tasks she is working on, saying this helps her a lot. “It’s easy to get distracted but I find if I remain single-minded about whatever goal I am working toward, it keeps in focus what the real reason is for being in this profession.”

One of the perks of being a model is the chance to work with so many talented designers and creators across the grid. When I asked her what creators she would like to work with and has not had a chance to so far, she immediately said she adores June Montiero, the designer of JUMO Fashions, and that she is also a huge fan of United Colors, Boudoir, and a host of fantasy based designers. Me, being nosy, wanted to know whose dress she was wearing for our interview, as it had made an impression on me as soon as I saw her.  A Summer red with pink blossom print and a plunging neckline – love! It turns out the dress is a new design from Giz Searn of Gizza called “Cordelia” and it's just perfect for shopping on the pier or going out to dinner with someone special.

Everyone has their personal preferences, and with so many different ways to express yourself in fashion, especially in a virtual environment, I found myself wondering if Rhiananna has a favorite type of styling, one that she just really connects with. She revealed that her enjoyment of rich fabrics, unique design, and elegance speak to her, making her a couture girl at heart. Curious, I asked if there was a style she found more difficult than others. It turns out that the street/grunge/urban style has never been her favorite. Of course she can style it well, but she admits it does not come as naturally to her as others.

Rhiananna bears a lot of responsibility on her shoulders. In addition to a soaring modeling career she is the Assistant General Manager for Sweethearts Jazz & Romance Club as well as an instructor for Regal Modeling Academy, teaching the “from avatars to new models” classes 101 and 201. She gave this sage bit of advice for those just starting out in the modeling world: “First of all, be SURE this is what you want to do. That sounds like a warning, but really it is more 'words to live by.' I think some people get into modeling only to discover it’s not for them, for various reasons. I think a very thorough period of research is vital before deciding to commit to it, but once you have, you must be single-minded in your pursuit.”

What might cause her to retire, or does she even see that as a viable alternative? She laughed amusedly as I asked that, informing me that she does not think she’ll be retiring anytime soon. After all, her adventures in modeling are just getting underway!

And lastly – what were her thoughts when she was crowned Miss SL 2017? “Well the most outstanding thing was disbelief. Making it into the top eight was HUGE to me, and I was proud to have done that. When it came down to three of us selected from the eight, from that moment on I was in shock. It was hard to formulate my answers to questions given by the judges because my mind was whirling by that point. I was literally rendered speechless when I was announced as the winner. I truly did not have words, I was totally stunned.”

As we wrapped up our conversation, she said there was something she wanted to add: “To everyone out there who aspires to be an SL model, don’t let go of your dreams if this is what you feel destined to do. Keep at it and put in the time and effort into it in order to excel. It’s truly worth it.”

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