Meet Zuri. Our Monday Model!
Zuri Bracy, also known as “Queen Z” is a published plus-size model and columnist based out of San Antonio, TX. She’s been featured on numerous websites, billboards and in various magazines across the country. In additional to gracing the fashion runways and writing articles, she serves as an executive board member for the Girls2Women Organization which focuses on improving self-images, gender equality, and women’s empowerment. Zuri is in the contract management field and holds a dual Master’s Degree from Walden University. She’s a mother of two, a friend, advocate, and mentor to the masses.
Congratulations on all of your success as a Plus Size Model. How did you get started modeling?
My first experience as a runway model was at a small church fashion show. The audience was so impressed with my performance that they encouraged me to look into becoming a model.
What has been your favourite experience thus far – the one you are most proud of?
I was blessed with an opportunity to be one of the feature models on a billboard that is next to one of our major highway exchanges. It was an amazing experience knowing that thousands of people had an opportunity to see my face in shining lights. This past summer, I was honored to receive a two-page spread (double truck) in the swimsuit edition of a magazine. I was the only plus model in that edition and to see my curves spread across those pages made me feel like… Ashley Graham.
Just like any craft, there is a learning curve – how did you learn how to model – both print and runway if applicable?
Practice, practice, practice, modeling is a job and you must study and do your homework to find out what works for you, and how you can market those abilities. I’ve attended a number of casting calls and walked in numerous shows. This is the type of profession where you have to learn by doing, practical application, have tough skin and be humble enough to learn how to crawl before you walk (this is a tough industry).
Did you have mentors or role models who helped and inspired you along the way?
Unfortunately, I did not have a mentor and I’m still currently seeking one. Our city is still in transition in the acceptance of plus size models on the runway. Since I did not have a mentor, I decided that I would be one, and I’m often called in to assist with shows as a mentor and model coach.
The Plus Size Industry has changed and continues to evolve – how do you think as a model you are able to help make an impact in how the world sees plus size women?
As I’ve stated in my article, I’m under the assumption that every hallway is my runway so I’m constantly practicing my craft. I dress and carry myself as a model, to the point that strangers approach me and state that I should be a model. I’m very selective in the way that I dress since I am aware that people are constantly watching. I take pride in knowing that I am supposed to be a representation of what to a confident plus size woman would look like. Women approach me on a regular basis inquiring about my outfits and I’m frequently sharing fashion tips and extending words of encouragement. With all of these practices combined, I feel that I am making a positive impact on how the world views that plus size woman.
You exude confidence with every step you take, were you always this confident? Tell us a little bit about the journey to confidence.
When I look back at photos from ten years ago, I see a very unhappy woman with a smile on her face. I struggled with my weight and was the largest person amongst my family and friends. I was the girl that would stand due to fear of the chairs breaking underneath my weight. I was a single mother with two children, worked two jobs and we survived off of junk food and various other unhealthy options for survival. After constantly hearing these dreadful words, “she’s pretty for a big girl” I decided to change. I went from avoiding mirrors and just being a mom to loving myself and becoming Zuri or as my friends had nicknamed me, Queen Z.
For our readers who are interested in starting a plus model career, what would you suggest are some top tips to get started?
As a starter, you need to decide if this is a hobby or a career. Modeling is expensive and you invest heavily in your craft before you start to see the rewards. Decide what type of model that you want to be because not everyone is made to be on the runway. Get in front of a few professional photographers and start a portfolio. You’ll need all of these things before you can attend your first casting call.
As a model you’ve had the opportunity to wear a variety of different styles, but what would we catch you in on an ‘off duty’ day? What would you call your fashion sense and how has this evolved through your modeling career?
Even on my off days, I’m dressed fashionably. I have more of an air of sophistication combined with a sensual and sultry presence so my style embraces that persona. Designers have a tendency to dress me in gowns and various other flowing outfits due to the way that I carry myself. As I have become more accepting of my body, I’m starting to be a little more open to showing skin on the runway.
What are you some of your favourite places to shop your style?
Ashley Stewart, Lane Bryant and Target
What does life look for you outside of the modeling world?
Monday through Friday, I’m a corporate girl. You’ll see me walking downtown in my heels and bright and bold business attire. After work, I’m a camp gladiator (boot camp) so I’m a hot sweaty mess on those days lol. I attend a lot of functions so on any given weekend you’ll find me either traveling, attending an art related function, jammin out with a local jazz band or in home depot grabbing items to working the backyard.
Thank you for taking time to chat with us today! What is one message you would like to leave with our readers today?
Everyone has insecurities and we all deal with them on a daily basis. Always appreciate what you have and don’t focus on the things that you don’t have because there are people out there that wish that they had a small piece of what God has graced you with.