A Model Student

Brooke DelCastillo folds into each pose as if it were predetermined, part of a set that has been rehearsed beforehand. And in a way it has. After more than 10 years in the business, the USF senior knows what she’s doing, and she can do it without guidance.

She carefully places a hand between the thorns of the bougainvillea at MLK Plaza, using the pillar as a prop.

“I feel so weird,” she says. “Everyone is staring at me.”

It’s not necessarily the staring that bothers her. She’s used to that. It’s more a matter of who’s doing the staring that matters.

“These are students,” she says. “It’s different when they’re your peers.”

But if she’s uncomfortable, the camera can’t tell. And the truth is, even if she’s a little nervous about having her peers watch on as she poses, she’s hoping for more of them to be aware of her work. Especially her latest accomplishment.

In the September issue of FHM (For Him Magazine), DelCastillo appears as part of the Student of the Year contest, which could net her a college scholarship as well as a trip to Australia. But to win, she needs to gain more votes than her 11 competitors, and that’s where her peers come in. Because DelCastillo is the sole representative of USF in the contest, she’s hoping her fellow students will back her when it comes time to vote.

After more than a decade of modeling, she’s earned it.

Starting out with an ad for Lakeland Memorial Hospital, and including television commercials for Nickelodeon Studios and Verizon, two calendars (Florida’s Finest 2003 and Bikes and Babes), as well as various catalogues, DelCastillo has appeared more than 30 times in print and on TV. And it wasn’t always easy.

“One of the hardest jobs I ever did was the Sisqo ‘Thong Song’ video, because it was 14 hours in 100 degree heat under 120 degree lights, and we were dancing the whole time,” she says. “We had oil on, and it was so hot the oil was bubbling. There were girls passing out.”

Another problem DelCastillo faces as a model is one of taste. Because many of DelCastillo’s jobs include swimsuit or lingerie photos, she says she has to be careful about exactly what the photographer is looking for.

“You’ve gotta learn how to judge it,” she says. “Like Dillards or Burdines is usually classy, but if it’s some small company that I don’t really know, then I’m not sure I’d do it.”

Swimsuit and lingerie modeling can also be a difficult pitch to the family, at times.

“When I first started doing it, they were a little worried, but it was more about if I would get led down the wrong path in modeling,” she says. “But I’ve got a good head on my shoulders, and I know that’s not what I want to do.”

DelCastillo also rejects the idea of any nude modeling, regardless of how classy the publication may be.

“I would never pose for Playboy,” she says. “I’ve seen some of their stuff, and it’s not really horrible or anything. It’s just not for me.”

She adds that her parents remain strongly supportive of all her work, and they trust her to make her own judgment calls.

“They’re both really proud of me,” she says. “They take all my stuff and show it to my grandparents. I just shot a calendar and my grandparents wanted to hang it up on the wall. And that was swimsuit stuff.”

And even though DelCastillo says she loves modeling, she’s doesn’t think she can make a living off of it.

“It takes too long to get paid,” she says. “I’ve had checks not come in until three or four months after the job.”

Instead, she plans on being an elementary school teacher, because she likes working with kids.

When it comes to planning her schedule, DelCastillo says she knows what is most important.

“Typically, school comes first,” she says. “I’ve cancelled some pretty good jobs – jobs that I didn’t want to cancel – because I had to go to class.”

DelCastillo adds that regardless of where her modeling career takes her, school will continue to be a priority.

“I want my education backing me,” she says.

Contact Dustin Dwyer at oraclefeatures@yahoo.com