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This is part of a monthly series about side gigs—nurses with interesting side jobs or hobbies. This month, we spotlight a nurse who is also a model.

When Sara Marlow Hunt, DNP, FNP-C, was just 12 years old, she wanted to get into acting. So when Barbizon Modeling opened a branch and offered classes near her home, her parents signed her up.

Sara Marlow Hunt, DNP, FNP-C

“It taught me about self-care, skincare, exercise, and how to break into modeling and acting. I wasn’t really interested in modeling at the time, but was told modeling was often a stepping stone to acting,” recalls Hunt. Soon after, Barbizon signed her as a model at their agency, and she got her first paid modeling gigs. At age 13, she signed with Cast Images Talent Agency, a larger modeling agency and began taking more acting classes and going on commercial auditions in addition to modeling/talent castings.

“My first paid job was as a hair model for Sebastian when I was 12,” recalls Hunt. “I loved it so much and was instantly hooked.”

Hunt quickly started working with talent agencies nationwide such as Mitchell Model Management, Soma Models, Coast to Coast, MDT Agency, Renee Godin Agency, and others. She even competed in the Elite Model Search in competition for a $1 million modeling contract and won the regional contest.

Like many other models in the United States, Hunt has a regular “day” job. A Board-Certified Family Nurse Practitioner and licensed Public Health Nurse, Hunt works at MinuteClinic.

In terms of her modeling career, Hunt has been represented by at least one agency since she began. “If you have a professional agency, it’s a good idea to hold on to them because you may not get one again,” explains Hunt.

Maternity shot by Amy Shuman

For the past couple of years, Hunt has been having children, and although she was pregnant at the time of this interview, her agency knows that if an opportunity for a pregnant commercial print of pregnant fit model to keep her in mind. Primarily, Hunt works in Sacramento and San Francisco, California.

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Hunt has done runway for brands such as Chaiken, Missoni, Dockers, and Levi’s; fitness modeling for Nautilus Fitness Equipment; promotional modeling for Pantene, CoverGirl, Olay, Febreze, and Swiffer; and she’s modeled for companies like Zobha and Charlotte Russe.

“I feel really lucky to have been able to work in this industry at all, much less to do crossover work,” says Hunt. “But my favorite is still acting, and I’ve done a couple commercials, music videos, and a short film.”

Hunt says that her biggest challenge in working as a model is that it’s always contract work, so there is no guarantee of work, no benefits of any kind, and you always risk not getting paid.

“It is risky work. If you need a reliable income, modeling and acting are not the way to go,” says Hunt. “Most people have flexible day jobs that allow them to go on castings and auditions. People always forget the amount of work that goes in behind the scenes—auditions, staying fit, audition outfits, flexibility with your time, professional photos, practice—before you even get one job. So, you can go on numerous auditions and still not get a job. Each audition/casting is a gamble and it can get expensive fast. Paying for gas to the audition, parking, commute time, and clean/professional clothes for auditions can rack up fast without a reward. Also, there is always a risk your agency could drop you and you’re out of work.”

Fitness shot by Lisa Keating

Obviously, there are rewards for Hunt. “I think the greatest reward is that it can be very fun, creative, and push you to do things that scare you,” she explains. “I would always get so nervous for runway shows or taping on camera, and I think it has been good for me to overcome those. I’ve had the opportunity to meet many great people.”

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Hunt also wants to dispel a stereotype about modeling.

“People only see famous actors and models, but most aren’t and most have regular day jobs” says Hunt. “There is a stereotype that models are vapid and are poorly educated, but that couldn’t be further from the truth in my personal experience. Models whom I’ve worked with have are exceptionally bright, hard-working, modest, kind, and business savvy. Some are engineers, some have been doctors, and some went to college, but chose to model full time.”

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