By KATIE EUBANKS
BeBe (pronounced “baybay”) Rayborn is a freshman communications major at Mississippi State University — and a model with The Industry Model Management in New York and Milk Model Management in London. She’s been modeling since age 14 and is currently balancing classes and sorority activities in Starkville with modeling jobs in New York. BeBe recently spoke with MCL Editor Katie Eubanks about modeling, faith, and her future plans.
Katie Eubanks: What got you into modeling?
Bebe Rayborn: I was always in choir. But I wasn’t really involved in anything (else growing up). I was always just kind of awkwardly tall.
Adults would always come up to me and say, “Have you ever thought of modeling?” And middle-school me would be like, ew, no, don’t make me do something that’s going to make me stand out more.
But then in eighth grade, a friend took some snapshots of me in my show choir outfit and submitted them to JEA, which is a local modeling agency here in Mississippi.
KE: What helped you get over your fear of standing out?
BR: I started to realize I was already a little bit different than the other girls … I had a little anxiety and ADHD. … it just didn’t matter at that point what other girls or guys were going to think of me.
I also realized that by doing this, it could bring me out of my shell.
KE: How has your faith impacted your work as a model, or vice versa?
BR: It wasn’t really until I got out of my house and my hometown that I felt my faith was my responsibility. When you’re on your own, nobody is making you open your Bible.
I went to a photographer’s apartment that I was scheduled with to do a shoot, and we ended up in sort of an argument about God. … I think he was sort of hurt by the church, and I told him not every (church) is like that, and that we would just have to agree to disagree.
In the South it may not feel like a fight, but everywhere else, it’s going to feel like a constant mental battle. It’s grown my faith.
At the end of the day, I was really alone in New York. And it just had to be me and God. Originally, I thought I was going to stay in New York … but I felt like God was calling me (to Mississippi State).
And now that I’ve come here, God has given me the biggest faith community and (group of) friends I’ve ever had.
I have an interview on Thursday with my agents from London about coming there for the summer. If I didn’t have the faith and trust and stronger relationship with the Lord that I have now, I would not have the spiritual maturity to go off and do that.
KE: Have there been any shoots you were not comfortable with?
BR: When I first got to New York, they were giving me a lot of assignments … some of them were lingerie and whatnot. And now, I think I would be strong enough to say, I’m not comfortable with that. Whereas before, I was more of a pushover.
I’m learning that my body is something that’s a temple to the Lord, and it doesn’t have to be on full display, even for “fashion.”
KE: What advice would you give to young Christian girls with an interest in modeling?
BR: I would tell them to do some self-reflecting and ask themselves why they want to do modeling. (If) you just want your name out there and attention …. you will do anything to be liked.
You need to know who you are, you need to be rooted in your faith, and you also need to be OK with not everyone liking you, because at some point you’re going to have to stand up for yourself. So I would say that’s something they really need to pray on.
KE: What do you want to do after college?
BR: What I really want to do is work with girls who have been human trafficked, and sex trafficked, and just rehabilitate them.
Loving people is another form of loving God, and who else is going to do it? Who’s going to go out of their comfort zone and say, there’s people who need help? I want to do something that matters.