Sunday, September 23, 2018
News Roundup

Model, student: area teen balances career, UF academics

On March 30, University of Florida freshman Avalon Dawn prepared for a night of studying and school work.

Before she could even open a finance textbook, she received a last minute call that put her on a plane to Miami.

When she landed, she changed into jeans, a black shirt and a leather jacket as they handed her a script for her role as an undercover cop in J Alvarez's new music video, which debuts on May 19.

Surrounded by at least 50 people constantly, she acted in her first music video, starring in an interrogation scene and making an arrest of the Puerto Rican reggaeton singer, who has performed at Madison Square Garden.

It was all in a day's work for Dawn, a Westchase area resident who has balanced school and modeling since the age of 13.

And she never even had to audition.

"I've never been on a casting call," Dawn said.

For models today, many of their opportunities derive from their Instagram presence.

It just depends on how many followers they have.

"Instagram has changed the game. It's much different than when my mom, Shawn Becklund, modeled," Dawn said. "It's better for someone shorter like me, because they aren't looking at height and weight measurements."

As a child seeing her mother's fitness modeling photographs, Dawn thought one day she might try it too.

Her first opportunity struck when a local photographer asked if she would like to do a test shoot.

"I really like that modeling makes you more confident once you see your photos," Dawn said. "The most challenging part was dealing with judgement from others. When they hear you're a model, they assume you're stupid or that there's nothing else to you. I did a lot of bikini work, so people would assume I wasn't a conservative girl."

When the judgement first poured in, Dawn would defend herself, but the arguments with peers became draining.

"To shut those rumors down, I just excelled in school and proved it by my actions," Dawn said.

She's proven it by getting straight A's throughout her entire school career at East Lake High School. Now her academics include working as a full-time finance major which she chose for the "analytical skills it could offer."

She achieves her goals by studying on the plane (like in the case of the Alvarez video) and by making tough choices when it comes to school and modeling opportunities.

"If anything she is so dedicated to her studies. They always come first," Becklund said. "She's extremely hard working. Honestly, I think as silly as it sounds, modeling isn't easy. Her work ethic and drive are unparalleled.

"My only worry is that she's going to overwork herself. I tell her, 'pull back and relax a little,'" Becklund added.

Though Dawn may not always follow that advice, she did learn patience from her mother, which comes in handy with only one break during a 14-hour shoot.

"She (Becklund) told me from the beginning, you'll be on your feet, not eating all day. This is work so you have to act as such," Dawn said. "I still struggle though."

Dawn's 5-foot-6 frame, curvy shape and exotic features appeal to swim wear companies, which comprises most of her work.

"I haven't had to buy swimwear since I was 13," Dawn said.

Her favorite gig was a test shoot for Guess with photographer Megane Claire.

"It was one of the coolest experiences of my life," Dawn said. "I had never shot something for such a big, iconic company before."

Another shoot she'll never forget: staying in a private mansion, on the water in Mexico, for an entire week to model Teeny B Bikinis' summer collection with a group of girls.

"You see all of these beautiful women and start to question 'Am I tall enough, skinny enough' but I just look at it as everyone is different," Dawn said. "I work out every day and eat really healthy and be the best I can be, and it makes me feel better."

Her regiment to stay in shape includes a vegetarian, high protein diet and an exercise routine of one hour of cardio and 45 minutes of weights every day with a personal trainer, who just happens to be her mother.

Even when Dawn is at UF, one hundred miles away, Becklund will send the routines through text.

Dawn does indulge in one cheat meal every two weeks, which always includes chocolate.

That regiment and hard work has garnered Dawn 85,000 Instagram followers, and helped her land the role in the Alvarez video.

Her biggest break yet.

On May 19, Dawn will be home from school for the summer, watching the debut of the Esa Boquita video, while Shawn Becklund blows out her birthday candles.

"What a great birthday gift," Becklund said.

Contact Arielle Waldman at [email protected]

 
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