Actress-Model Hunter Phoenix is petite in stature, but carries a larger-than-life persona when she steps into the room. Phenomenally vibrant and immensely talented, the Toronto-born Phoenix exudes ambition that has gained her an impressive resume and roster of professional achievements.
“When I was a little girl I always wanted to be a model; but I was never very tall – I really didn’t think I had a chance since most famous models are 5’9 or more.” Phoenix said. “I was studying theater in school, and working in a bar to pay off my student loan when a casting director for a beer commercial came in and asked the owner if he ‘could recommend any beautiful girls for the spot.’ He suggested me. I went out on my first modeling audition, kind of by accident. I was up against 400 other girls, and I got the job—I thought ‘hey this is easy!’ And that was how I became a ‘Bud Girl,’ I did several posters and even live appearances. The Budweiser thing was a long term project, and it was a sweet gig. I was on my way.”
With a potent combination of warm personal charm and a figure of rare, profoundly appealing symmetry, Phoenix’s launch in the business steadily built momentum. “With the high visibility of the Budweiser campaign it was easy to get a modeling and commercial agent and I began doing more on camera stuff,” Phoenix said. “I started doing television commercials and it all just really took off. Soon, I was also doing a lot of print work, beauty products and food stuff. You just go where the work is.”
Phoenix ably floated through an impressive series of assignments, representing a broad spectrum of internationally known products from fashion and cosmetics, automobiles and electronics to food and drink.
“It was not an area of life that was too difficult, modeling is much more complicated now because of all the multiple online profiles and social media that you have to maintain.” Phoenix said. “But if you are signed with a top agency, clients trust their reputation and will book you based on pictures and previous work. They often just call and you really don’t have to audition as much. But it’s not always perfect. There are challenges—the difficult shoots.”
“I remember one where we had a done a year’s worth of commercials in four weeks and we were at the tail end of it all, working in the studio, and it was late, late at night, 3 or 4 o’clock in the morning. They were struggling to get the lights and the angle just right and at one point they had to put an asbestos filter over my head so my hair wouldn’t catch on fire! Tempers get short, and people get frustrated in the middle of the night. That was pretty crazy. Or the outdoors bikini stuff, they want it for summer so you’re out there and it’s March, you have to get your feet in the water and look like you’re warm and happy and of course it’s really freezing.”
Phoenix, who has also distinguished herself as a successful film and television actress, invariably transforms any such challenge into a positive, and with an intuitive knack for wringing out every available scintilla of knowledge from a situation, she uses each experience to her professional advantage.
“Theater and acting are great for the emotional side, but modeling has taught me very valuable lessons about business.” Phoenix said. “As a model, when you show up, you’re a brand ambassador but you’re also the last one to the party, and there’s been this huge complex campaign all worked out before you arrive. I learn a lot on set just keeping my mouth shut and observing, there are a lot of very sharp people from the ad agencies, and it’s taught me a lot about business in general. Everything is done on a very tight time frame—if you don’t respond to a call from your agent within 20 minutes you’ll lose the job. So it’s taught me to be punctual, adaptable and professional.”
With over fifteen years of experience, Phoenix remains an in-demand, versatile force in the industry, working up close as a hand model, appearing in print ads and acting in television spots.
“I still do lots of beauty stuff, a great deal of it in Europe.” Phoenix said. “I just signed with two new agents, one in Milan and one in Berlin, so there’s a good chance I’ll be doing jobs over there soon. I do a lot of travel, it’s one of the most wonderful aspects of the job. You get to meet cool people in all sorts of beautiful locations. I love getting that phone call, where they say ‘Okay you need to catch a flight to Paris in two days’—I just love that. There’s nothing else like it.”