Name: Acacia McBride
Agency: O Models Agency
Claim To Fame: Mcbride has booked majored beauty campaigns including Urban Decay’s inclusive foundation launch.
Military operations require precision. Operatives carefully evaluate every angle of attack because they know that one hasty choice can topple an entire mission. The same can be said for some careers.
As the daughter of an Iraq veteran, model Acacia McBride brings a quiet determination to every goal she pursues. Before she became one of the faces of Urban Decay she was focused on bonding with her father by excelling in beauty pageants.
“I’ve been doing pageants since I was about two, but it was never something that was like, Oh, this is going to be a career. It was actually my father who kind of took over me being in pageants,” she told HelloBeautiful.
He would coach her to focus on what could lead her to success and not allow herself to be distracted by factors she couldn’t control. “He was back and forth but before he went, that was our thing that was like daddy daughter time,” she said.
When he would return from stents in Iraq and other locations she would proudly present him with the spoils of her competitions.
“That was my way of building my relationship with him. I would try to have more trophies and more crowds and sashes when he would get back. And I realized subconsciously that that was me, like rekindling our relationship.”
When McBride realized the cost of presenting herself the way pageant girls are supposed to she did what any soldier would, and found a new way to her target. She got a job at a store that carried the gowns she would need to get the judges to take her seriously. Later she took the customer skills she learned and developed a business based on her struggles affording accessories while competing.
“I actually made my earrings from a broken choker,” she revealed. “I noticed that a lot of girls were having issues with that.”
Today her childhood home is littered with crowns and sashes she acquired over the years. “I think I have about 40 something title sashes. I have several crowns. But some of them are like broken, that’s how old they are.”
There was little representation for McBride growing up on the Mississippi pageant scene. The majority of the title holders and her fellow contestants looked nothing like her. “There was not a lot of them,” she said of the Black girls competing. “There still isn’t enough, in my opinion,” she added. Expensive registrations fees and wardrobe requirements eliminated many would-be beauty queens from trying.
As someone who lacked role models she knows what it means for Black girls to see her face gleaming from a Sephora stand. “Honestly it gives me chills,” she said.
“I think representation is so important and not representation where it’s fake,” she continued.
Not interested in being the token brown face she is hopeful about brands committing to marketing to all of their clientele.
She said she was happy “to know that I wasn’t the only black girl in the room just so there could be a black girl on the foundation. I wasn’t the darkest shade and that made me excited.”
McBride’s lack of role models made her value those she did have including the one woman she credits with changing her life. “Tiana Griggs She was Miss Georgia USA 2014 and she went on to compete at Miss USA and she got the second-runner up. Well, she started out as my pageant coach and she ended up being one of the most influential women in my life,” she said.
‘She was doing consulting at the time, so she was like, Hey, you know, if you need a pageant coach, you know, I’m here. And I was like, absolutely,” she continued.
In addition to juggling school, work, and pageants McBride participated in sports. Working with Griggs eventually helped her develop a clear sense of direction towards her long term career goals.
“I felt a different level of confidence after working with my mentor. And the reason for that was the pace she translated everything which would be for me. Um, it wasn’t this is how you walk, this is how you, you know, this is how you turn. It was more so it was more calculated and strategic to where now that walk in, anytime I walk into an interview room, it’s like this is how you speak. And it wasn’t telling me what to say, but it was telling me how to tell my story and she didn’t realize it, but she was helping me write my story.”
Griggs taught Mcbride to think about the long term implications of every gig she accepted. Now when the phone rings she asks, “What type of person they are, what are their beliefs?”
“And before meeting her, I didn’t think all of this stuff matters,” she said.
“But I think at the end of the day it’s about how bad you want it. Representation is not going to get better until we start at least trying to enter the room or we create our own worlds. And a lot of times that does start with being in the room because where’s your credibility? I know that’s why I’m doing it. I’m not trying to model for the rest of my life. I actually want to be able to provide opportunities to other models.”
She wants to make that happen by forming a production company using the education she earned at Clark Atlanta University.
She turns down offers that don’t align with those long-term goals and she keeps them in mind when selecting an agency. “I’ve been an independent model for about three years and I’ve loved it. I’ve been able to work with whoever I want to work with,” she said. The freedom was great but “I got burnout because everyone was so accessible to me.” She selected O Models because of their track record staffing the beauty campaigns that would eventually take her career to the next level.
“A year ago I wrote down six agencies after doing my research on people, they represent, what the people who look like on the board,” she said. “They are, um, the primary agency for those companies and one of my goals was to work with all of the top cosmetic companies. So that was just my way of I guess playing it safe and being smart about who I signed this because I don’t want to be on a roster of 200 models and I’m not getting work.”
She is constantly working and has multiple contracts pending for post COVID-19. She is actually grateful for the time to reflect during the pandemic.
The odds for success of her reaching the success she has were slim coming from rural Mississippi were slim but that didn’t stop her from striving.Today she and her family work to make sure that others can strive no after what challenges they are dealing with through their non-profit Michah’s Walk For Autism.
“We have a festival every year where we pretty much get the community together. My mom’s also a nurse, so we do a lot of health fairs and screenings and knittings,” she continued.“I want to be able to have another mini Acacia who doesn’t think she can do it. And I have the resources to help push her. That’s what I aspire to.”
“And it’s honestly just my way of giving back,” she added. “And I come from a family to provide service. We all serve and that’s what you do.”
That’s a tradition worth continuing.