Young Watertown couple proves to be old pros in front of the camera
If not for their fathers, professional models Bekah and Cory Bond might never have found their true calling in front of the cameras.
Bekah's dad literally drove her to do it, while Cory's father sort of teased him into it.
Married 14 years, the couple has lived most of their career in New York City, however they bought property in the Watertown area in about 2003 and settled in as permanent residents two years ago.
Explaining her entry into the modeling world, Bekah, 31, who grew up near Syracuse, N.Y., said, "My dad dragged me kicking and screaming to a scouting convention [an event where agents are looking for new talent]. I was totally overwhelmed by the interest. At the time I was 12.
"I signed with my first agent, and it was kind of a whirlwind. I got to New York, had a test shoot and two days later was doing a modeling show. So I spent a lot of time in New York City. I had been photographed for 'W Magazine,' 'Vogue' and 'Vogue Italia,' all those big magazines, and was in campaigns like Armani before I was 16."
Cory's motivation to become a model was jump started by his dad's joshing.
"My dad was gonna pay for college, but I didn't know what I wanted to do. Even when I was a kid he always said, 'What are you gonna do? Get by on your good looks?' And I thought, 'Hey, that wouldn't be a bad idea,'" said Cory, 39, who was raised in Sumner County and graduated from Westmoreland High School.
Cory began his professional modeling career at 19. Previously, he worked a brief time at Bay's Southern Bread in Lebanon.
"I went through a thing called Pro Scout," he said of his initiation into the profession. "I went to Nashville and Atlanta. I was scouted by a New York City agency and signed by a modeling scout out of Chicago.
"It wasn't as glamorous as I thought it would be. You don't make as much money in the beginning as you think, but the traveling was amazing. My first time out I went to Milan [Italy] for three months, and I had never been anywhere else but Florida.
"Runway shows in Milan are a place to build your portfolio and get a lot of pictures. I do a lot of modeling all over, but this year I've already been to Cape Town, South Africa, and Istanbul, Turkey, and I go a lot to South America."
Other than a country music video or two, Bekah does most of her modeling in New York, Los Angeles and Europe. She may fly to a job three to five times a month or maybe not at all. Most of her smiles are for magazine covers or ads, but she has appeared in videos for country singers Chris Young and Jon Pardi, rock band The Strokes and German pop singer DJ Hell.
The couple met at a party held by one of Bekah's agents. She remembers, "I saw this boy and thought he was really, really cute, and he had this nice Southern accent. I said to myself, 'I want that one.'"
Before relocating to Watertown, the couple had a place in New York City and a Brooklyn apartment. After daughter Brooklyn was born, they decided that a change of scenery would do them good.
Bekah said, "We were visiting here and looking at property. We wanted to live out in the country, and we found our acreage and it's so incredible. Having the baby, it would be easier for her, and we both grew up in small towns."
Corey already had his eyes on the area as he reminisced, "Our football team played Watertown, and I just thought it looked so pretty here. And my brother, Lee Bond, who runs Bond Construction, lives here. He was the other reason I bought out here.
"I like open spaces and being able to get out and ride a four-wheeler. There's not a lot of unnatural noises. Here it's just being immersed in nature. There it was brakes, horns, fire trucks, ambulances. We replaced it with birds, leaves rustling, crickets."
Bekah, whose menagerie includes two horses, 15 chickens and a rooster, said, "I love the change of pace. I like being able to breathe fresh air and love having my animals."
In the meantime, she has taken on another job and doesn't fret over her modeling career.
"I feel it kind of evolves, but, hey, everybody wears clothes. You have no control over it so I try not to worry about things I can't control," she said.
"I've been a Realtor for a year and a half. I decided to pursue it due to how the market for real estate has changed in Tennessee. I've always been into homes and property and watched all the shows on HGTV. When I was pregnant, I was not doing a lot so I decided to take the classes. I'm kind of a busybody. I can't sit still. I'm lucky to have a found a great agency with DeAnna Dodd at Capital Real Estate [in Lebanon]. I'm busy with the real estate so it's a nice balance."
Cory's credits include a La-Z-Boy commercial with Brooke Shields, a video in which he carried Madonna over a crowd and a country music video with Whitney Duncan as she sings "Skinny Dippin'." He's also been in ads for Tommy Hilfiger, Banana Republic and Michael Kors and seen his face plastered across a Big Apple billboard for Dolce & Gabbana.
He described how a career may go if you've got the gift and take care of yourself, saying, "You start as a model at about 18 years and you have a good run 'til you're about 25, and then you're no longer a young man. And then it starts back up in your 30s for suits and TV commercials, and then you can continue for quite some time.
"I'm kind of making my own path through this. I don't know many male models who've been modeling this long. Most leave at 30 and go on to other career paths. It's a tough business to stay relevant in."
As for advice to wannabes, he offers, "You really have to take great care of yourself. Your body is of the utmost importance. So stay in good shape."
Bekah adds, "You have to go into it with an idea in your head that it's not really glamorous. It's hard work, long hours, and you'll be traveling away from your family a lot. And you hear the word 'no' a lot and cannot take it personally."
The switch to rural America obviously was a trade-off.
"What I miss most is spontaneously going and doing anything, sporting events, a live music show or Madison Square Garden, and I miss the diversity of the restaurants," said Cory.
Bekah said she misses "the night life. This is a lot of different. I can't walk to events and I loved going to Broadway, but TPAC actually gets a lot of good shows that I want to see, so I try to catch them there."
During her down time, she enjoys riding her horses and crafts like painting, knitting and crocheting. As for the travel to and from her jobs, she said, "I much prefer the commute from Nashville than New York City. It's an easier commute for me."
Little Brooklyn has not been left out of the picture. She already has a passport and made her professional debut in a photo for a Marks & Spencer Christmas ad that was shot in London.
To view an online video interview with professional model Cory Bond, go to youtube.com/watch?v=sGQBAcriYmg.
To see Bekah Bond in the Jon Pardi music video, "Dirt on My Boots," go to youtube.com/watch?v=lheKC1iC0CM.