Marissa Brown (B.S. ’16) is an internationally recognized model for brands such as Nike and Guess, and finished her bachelor's degree in just two years.
Marissa Brown (B.A. ’16) knows how to make the most of her time.
During her undergraduate studies at Georgia State, Brown balanced her business classes, held down several jobs and took her modeling career to the next level — all while graduating in just two years.
While exploring career options and juggling up to five different jobs, sometimes all within the same semester, she managed to squeeze in modeling gigs with various gown designers, and major brands such as Guess, Coca-Cola, Nike and Stüssy. Now that she’s out of school, she’s looking forward to devoting more time to modeling.
“It was always full-throttle, no break,” Brown said of her two busy years at Georgia State. “Definitely a challenge, but one that I can now say I’m super glad I put myself up to. I’m passionate about a lot of different things, so despite how much I had to sacrifice, watching the hard work pay off and seeing myself excel in multiple areas was always my biggest source of motivation. Most people chase one thing, or one goal, but I’ve always wanted to show people that you really can do it all.”
Brown started modeling at age 14 at the recommendation of her orthodontist and got signed with an agency.
“I think it’s exciting being able to transform into the vision that people have,” Brown said. “They have something they’re trying to create and that they want to make the viewer feel or understand, and to be versatile enough to transform into something that works for their vision is really exciting.”
For the Guess campaign, Brown got a last-minute call from rapper A$AP Rocky’s management who needed her to come to Los Angeles in less than 24 hours. A$AP Rocky had collaborated with Guess on a 90s-themed clothing line.
Brown hopped on a plane, and she and other models met at the Roc Nation building to get dressed and styled. Then, the models, photographers, A$AP Rocky and his team boarded buses, and the models were photographed at retro, 90s-looking spots around L.A. Brown’s photos were displayed at a pop-up shop in New York, in magazine ads, on billboards and on Guess’ website.
“Shooting for Guess was an unforgettable experience, by far the most fun photoshoot I’ve ever been a part of,” Brown said. “The collaboration of elite designers, creative directors, artists and models was so effortlessly synergistic. Rocky’s vision was so compelling, and the energy and vibes from the models involved really brought that vision to life.”
She does a lot of modeling locally, but there are times where she needs to travel to New York, L.A. or Miami for auditions or shoots, which she balances with her current job in the hospitality industry.
“It can be overwhelming, but it keeps life spontaneous,” Brown said. “And of course, it gives me an easy reason to travel, which is always a thrill.”
Each year in August, Brown models in AmericasMart Atlanta’s World of Prom event where prom dress designers put on shows to sell their dresses to retailers.
She has also done acting and voice over acting work for several commercials, including Coca-Cola, Autotrader, a commercial banking app and Adrenaline Inc., which involved a persona video on corporate social responsibility and how it affects millennials’ buying decisions. Her business degree was integral to her being able to answer the audition’s prompt questions comprehensively and book the job, she said.
Brown was able to graduate from Georgia State in two years because she enrolled in a dual enrollment program that allows high school students to earn college credit while working on their high school diploma.
“I put a lot to the side in order to get a head start. I spent the last half of my high school years pushing myself in college courses, so once I entered Georgia State, I just had to finish up my major classes,” she said.
Her Georgia State education has been an asset to her modeling career, as well as her entrepreneurial goals.
“I did a lot of growing at Georgia State,” Brown said. “It was more than just coming in and getting a degree. Along with all the knowledge and perspectives that I gained came the confidence that told me I actually can turn my dreams and ideas into reality. Having the background of a business degree has been the most constructive and valuable component of my foundation.”
Her biggest advice for anyone who wants to get into modeling is “not selling out.”
“Stay true to who you are and the vision that you have,” Brown said. “Just always believe in yourself and be unapologetically you. You’ll never maximize your unique potential if you’re not in love with your individuality. When you’re happy being you and you’re confident enough to realize that you’re special in your own way, the universe naturally attracts situations into your life where your unique attributes give you the competitive advantage to win.”