Bella Glanville is an international model, coach, singer, actress and founder of the LoveKidz foundation. Born and bred in London, she has worked with big names such as Stella Mccartney, Topshop, Nike and Vogue. Bella is also a motivational speaker and gave a TED talk on the ‘myth of perfection’. I spoke with her about juggling so many talents in the the era of personal branding.
Tell us more about how your modelling and coaching career began and how you broke into acting and singing.
The stories actually link together – I became a coach in 2013 after participating in a few leadership events, both in London and America. I used to be really insecure after some bad experiences when I was younger, but I’ve learned about the importance of self-love and how to define yourself. I started to run workshops around this to share these tools with others and the funny thing is, the day I got scouted to be a model was the day that I gave my first workshop on self-love.
My parents are both opera singers so I’ve always been surrounded by the magical world of music and was kind of known as ‘the singer’ when I was at school. I love to write my own music and to perform soul/pop/jazz. I definitely don’t do opera singing myself though! As for the acting, I was in a theatre group as a child and studied drama at school. I decided to go into it professionally because it links well with modelling and I was so inspired by the behind-the-scenes stuff that I saw at the opera house as a child.
How did you come to set up your foundation?
After my second leadership event, I wanted to share everything that I had learned with others because I knew how powerful these tools are. I thought that starting up a foundation would be the easiest and fastest way to share these with as many people as I could. It started with a website but I set a new goal for it every year and ended up giving weekly workshops in schools.
Had you had any other businesses / experience before this?
Not with my own, no!
Of all the sectors you have worked in (fashion, film, business, music) which has been your favourite and why?
They all have their moments, but I would say the leadership world is my favourite. I have met the most amazing and motivational people at these events – the ones that inspire me as a motivational speaker. They are all so inspiring and have pushed me to be the best that I can be. They hold me accountable to be the change I want to see in the world and I do the same for them. We are like one big family and it’s a bit like an optical illusion because I can go to the exact same event and learn something completely different from it. The leadership world is all about personal development and how you can be the best version of yourself, but it’s also about contributing to society and to others. Both of these things have allowed me to be confident in myself and look to help others grow.
What would you change about each of the industries you have worked in, and on the other side of the coin, what do you think each of them offers back to the world?
Fashion and film – the only thing I would change is fortunately, the thing that is already changing. The whole concept of having to be a size zero, tall person with flawless skin has been an issue for a long time because it obviously puts the term ‘beauty’ on an extremely high, subjective pedestal. I’m so glad that curvy models are doing so well and that models with quirky features are being casted almost consistently nowadays. I think that the modelling and acting industry have such an influential voice when it comes to beauty standards and that they offer the world a chance to show what it’s got. In other words, the fact that models with unique features are so popular now is a great way to send the message ‘be yourself and love who you are.’
Music is the same. I think it’s such a good way for people to express their emotions, whether it be listening to a happy song when you’re sad or even performing it for yourself. The one thing I would change, which is kind of personal, is how hard it is to get into the industry, especially without connections. But I kind of like the challenge.. you just can’t spell ‘challenge’ without ‘change.’
I wouldn’t change anything about the leadership world. I just want it to expand so that more people can learn about these powerful tools. It offers so so much to the world already and allows people to grow as much or as little as they want. These events, especially, are so insightful and teach everyone so much. The minor thing I might change is that some people contribute for the wrong reason. I have seen a few cases where people will realise that they are making a tremendous impact in the world and suddenly become driven by a desire for significance. I think it’s important to contribute, but not if you’re going to film yourself doing it and post it online for praise. There is a difference between inspiring others to do the same as you and simply telling them that you’re about to talk on stage in front of 10,000 people. It’s okay to share if it’s a way of getting others to do the same, basically! Leaders create more leaders.
Do you think more people should have portfolio careers?
I think people should do what makes them happy. At the end of the day, work doesn’t feel like work if it’s something that you enjoy! There are multiple things that make me happy, which is why I have multiple careers but not everyone feels that way and that’s fine. You only have one life so I suggest going and doing what you want to do.
What are your thoughts on ‘the age of personal branding’?
I love personal branding. In fact, I had this entire idea of setting up my own fashion brand as well. I designed the clothes, got my models in place and even came up with the business idea but in the end, I left my priorities elsewhere. If it’s something that you’re passionate about then do it! It’s silly to do it for the sake of doing it though, like a lot of celebrities do.
What does a typical work day look like for you?
It depends on what the work is. Most of the time, it’s modelling, in which case the job will normally start at around 9am. I’ll normally shoot for about six hours and it’s mostly ten looks. The make up and hair can take about two hours and we also normally get an hour for lunch so the eight hours isn’t all in front of the camera. A lot goes into a picture of a model. I’ll then come home and probably tutor one of my students before the day is over. If I’m not shooting, I’ll be travelling to castings around London. They can take anything from 10 minutes to 3 hours – depends on the season/client.
If I’m giving a talk then I’ll normally get up super early to travel to wherever it is. They usually last about an hour. Acting is a bit mad. The days can be 16 hours long and one line on a script can take up four of those hours.
What’s been your biggest achievement in life thus far?
Probably giving a TED talk. That was amazing.
And biggest failure?
Honestly, I don’t see anything as a failure. I see every obstacle in life as an opportunity for growth and I’ve had lots of those for sure!
What’s been the funniest moment of your career?
This is funny in a kind of good way. I came out of an exam once, and my typical exam attire is baggy trackies, a hoodie, trainers, greasy hair and no make up. Anyway, I had a missed call from my agency and when I called back they wanted me to go to a casting for a show in Paris. I told them what I was wearing and they said I didn’t have to go but that it was my only chance, so I went. I get there and two models walk out, both beautifully dressed and made up. After the casting, I thought there was no way I’d get the job but the next day I got a call about being shortlisted and that night I got confirmed! I was so shocked. Who knows, maybe my baggy attire made me stand out. I went to Paris that weekend and did the show for Stella Mccartney.
Another funny thing about that weekend is that I became friendly with a girl who I kept thinking I recognised… it turned out it’s because she’s a massive Victoria’s secret model who I’ve been following on Instagram! I didn’t realise this until I’d gone home though.
Why is it so difficult to break into media and fashion and what advice would you give to someone starting out?
It can be difficult because you really need that ‘look’. Most agencies have a specific one that they go for but it’s almost impossible to tell what that is. Even people who are scouted can get turned down by the agency in the end because if 9/10 of them want you, they can’t sign you. They have to all want you. To someone starting out, I would suggest doing walk ins in as many agencies as you can. Get your options in place and go for the one that is the most excited about you because in the end, it’s not about the agency – it’s about your booker. I also wouldn’t recommend immediately going for a big agency because they’re harder to grow with and easier to get drowned out in. I’d also say it’s important not to get discouraged if they don’t want to sign you because, like I said, they all have their own looks that they prefer. It says nothing about how beautiful or handsome you are.
As a motivational speaker and coach, how did you develop your confidence when it comes to public speaking?
Practice, probably. I think I was born to do it because it comes naturally, which is a really lucky thing for me. There’s the classic advice to ‘picture your audience naked’ but I definitely don’t do that! That would probably make me laugh. I would suggest – practice practice practice until you know the speech backwards. That way, you can’t really slip up, and even if you do… they won’t know.
Did you have a mentor or people you asked for advice?
I call my mentors my accountability partners so yes to both. They hold me accountable for my goals and always inspire me. I have the best friends in the whole world! One is a life coach, one is an Olympic ice skater, one is a self-made teenage millionaire and the rest are so incredibly smart, passionate and wonderful in their own ways.
Who are your role models?
Tony Robbins, Miranda Kerr and Margot Robbie
How has what you do, changed you as a person?
I grow every day because of what I do. The leadership and modelling have both given me confidence, but in different ways. The leadership gives me confidence in myself and to thrive in life and I’m always learning new forms of personal development. I’ve learned to manifest my goals; make them happen, and how to build on relationships. The modelling has made me hard skinned. I’ve learned to compare myself to no one but myself.
How do you like to stay healthy and active?
I drink a lot of water. A LOT! To be honest, I’m not your typical fitness model who could go on and on about exercise routines but I have two favourite things in that respect: firstly, I adore spinning classes, they’re so motivational and fun. Secondly, I go running a lot when I want to release any emotions – happy or stressed.
As a model, what are your top beauty secrets?
Firstly, you’re beautiful. You are, so the secret to looking beautiful is just to find a mirror and see that gorgeousness of yours looking back at you. One thing I would share though, is that the secret to good skin is not to touch it. Literally, I have people ask me what I do to keep my skin clear and the answer is ‘nothing’. I’d say to stop upsetting the PH of your skin with face masks and blackhead removal kits! Wearing makeup is okay, but make sure you’re not allergic to it. Stop touching your skin – I can’t emphasise this enough. Literally, don’t even stroke it. Keep your hands away from your face and don’t scratch or pick your spots. I’d suggest not letting others touch your face too, unless their hands are clean. You can tell it’s something I’m quite passionate about!
Also, side note, it is possible to use a naked pallet to do an entire face of make up. It’s also fun to try! I personally use bb cream for my face. It’s a good moisturiser, protects your skin from the sun and covers up blemishes all at the same time.
What are the top 5 books and blogs on your reading list?
- The Secret
- Why men love bitches
- Treasure yourself
- The 7 habits of highly effective people
- Jane Eyre (gotta throw in my favourite classic)
If you could do any other job, aside from what you do now, what would it be?
I would travel the world and be a photographer – anything to do with being paid to travel!
If money and time were no object, what would be on your to-do and to-see list?
Asia. I can’t wait for the day that I get to go to India, Bali, Hong Kong and Thailand. Those are my go to places for sure. Major bucket list things!
Do you have any unconventional words of advice?
Love yourself, no matter what and don’t look to the media as a representation of what beauty is or how you should look. After all the photoshop and editing behind the scenes, you may as well be comparing yourself to a cartoon character.
What is your motto?
You only have one life so live it to the fullest.