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Photo Credit: Kia Caldwell

Name: Phylicia Gilzene

IG: @phylicia_theplusmodel_ 

Agency: Self-Represented

Seven years ago, Phylicia Gilzene understood how items got on shelves. But as for what went on the sets of the photoshoots held to promote those items, she had no clue. Despite her extensive experience in advanced retail operations and striking beauty she had never thought she would end up in one of the ads that she was once oversaw the distribution of.

Her foray into the limelight started on a dance floor. “It’s kind of a funny story, I was at a party dancing and having a good time and this lady came up to me and asked if I ever thought about modeling,” she told HelloBeautiful in an exclusive interview.

The thought had never occurred to her even though she was confident about her appearance.

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Photo Credit: Kia Caldwell

“I’ve always been into fashion and thought I was cute, but I had no idea about this plus community,” she explained. She said her connection to the body positivity movement was limited to, “only what I saw on TV.”

The candid conversation led to Gilzene enrolling in a runway course. “I met Jeannie Ferguson while doing a runway class. At the time there was a big plus size modeling casting coming up and she told me to go for it.”

She put action behind the words of encouragement right away without waiting for additional training. Gilzene was ready to be a star even if she didn’t have all the tools to shine just yet.

“I had a friend of mine who was a photographer take some pics and I went for it,” she said.Her nerves didn’t hold her back from going for it the way Ferguson suggested and her assured energy is transferable.

“All my onset experiences have been amazing fun and relaxing. I do get nervous sometimes believe it or not in front of the camera but every photographer I’ve ever worked for made me feel very comfortable and gave direction if needed,” she recalled.

Chuckling she added, “Looking back on those pics now I can see I’ve come a long way.”

She’s not only come a long way as a model but as a mother. She balances pursuing her modeling dreams with raising her sixteen-month-old son and newborn daughter. She’s already begun thinking about how her career will give her an entry point to talk to her children about societal beauty standards– after they get that whole ABCs thing down.

“I want my kids to know that beauty isn’t everything! Everyone’s definition of beauty can be very different,” she said. She also doesn’t want them to feel appearance disqualifies them to work in any atmosphere.

“I never want my kids to feel like they have to look like whomever to be considered beautiful or to be considered for that particular job,” she added. Restrictions that she doesn’t want placed on her children are rejected by her as well. She is not intimidated by the slender models stalking the catwalk.

“I would love to grace some runways during fashion week and to model for some designers who don’t normally hire plus size models.”

She’s prepared to hit the ground running in high heels in between midnight feedings.


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Model Monday: Phylicia Gilzene’s Faith Is Contagious  was originally published on