Brittany is a Virgo: modest, humble and a little shy. When I walked into a cute café in Soho to meet her, she was sitting quietly in a corner, roaming through her iPhone. Dressed down in jeans, cute sneakers and hair pulled up in a bun, the stigma that I guiltily assumed she would carry as a “video model” was nowhere to be found. In fact, early in our girl talk, she made it clear she’s not even comfortable calling herself a “model” of any sort.
That’s odd giving where I first met her: we were on a celebrity cruise not too long ago when my friend pinched me when she saw Brittany in the corner, making it clear she was the girl from Kendrick Lamar’s “Poetic Justice” video.
“So?,” I said to my friend.
“So? Girl, he purposely chose her over a light-skin model,” she answered, with a look that said, “Melanie, boo, you should know this.”
That’s when I ran up, with food in my mouth, handed her my card, and let her know that she had to be down with “Beautifully Brown.” Ladies, meet Brittany Sky.
EBONY: Brittany, how long have you been modeling?
Brittany Sky: I’d say probably about a year. I’m kind of afraid to say I’m a “model,” to be honest, though. Can I ask you how you even started “Beautifully Brown”?
EBONY: My boss really pushed me into it, thankfully. I didn’t realize how big of a deal it was because I didn’t really grow up thinking about complexion. I just didn’t hear I was a “pretty brown girl”; my Dad just always called me his pretty little girl. I’ve met so many girls who didn’t have that, and my boss just really encouraged me to go for it.
BS: Well, I didn’t grow up with that [encouragement]. I mean, my mom told me I was pretty, but that’s about it. I was actually bullied a lot growing up. But I must say, after I did the video, I was overwhelmed of all the girls that have been bullied about their complexion sending me emails. Some even said they didn’t think they were pretty until they saw me in the video. I’m like, “Me? I’m like… nobody.”
EBONY: Wait, you were bullied by Black girls growing up?
BS: No, they were White! This was elementary school, but I remember I wanted to be down with these White girls’ clique so bad. I was buying them things and stuff like that. They would get me in so much trouble, and I’d let them because I wanted to be in their clique. My mom would have to come to the school and defend me because I would come home crying all the time.
EBONY: It’s new to hear of a Black girl being bullied by White girls. But from that, you found your way to feeling beautiful and in one of the most talked about rapper’s hit music video. You also requested by Kendrick himself. Can you talk about that day a little more?
BS: A mutual friend brought me along to the shoot. I wasn’t even supposed to be in the video. Kendrick and I have a lot of mutual friends; his team told some associates of mine to come check him out. I had friends from college working on the set as well. I swear, I got there and the next thing I know I’m being asked to be in the video. Honestly, I didn’t know what was going on behind the scenes in regards to me replacing the other video model.
EBONY: It was impressive to me that he took the liberty to request the darker girl, though. Open us up to your world as a brown model in regard to the music biz. What is the experience like during auditions or just being involved?
BS: It’s a little nerve-racking, because you are meeting different people all the time and you don’t really know how each person will address you or interact with you. When I agreed to do Kendrick’s video, I was like, “Listen, I don’t have all of the extra ‘assets’ and I’m not going to perform if I am not comfortable.” And he was totally okay with it. So I was really lucky to work with him.
EBONY: Was there any tension between you and the model you replaced?
BS: Honestly, I have no idea how that went down. She was cute, too. I guess they were just looking for something different for the song “Poetic Justice.”
EBONY: Coming from an aesthetic position, it sort of made sense for the lead girl to be brown. Tell me about being a darker girl in this industry. What about it makes you feel empowered and what about it almost feels like a disadvantage?
BS: It’s empowering because I have a platform where I can be some type of representation of brown girls. Like I said, I didn’t know that I was so impactful. I didn’t know there were a lot of little girls who wanted to get into modeling, and thought they had to be light to do so. I feel like my complexion is what will actually give me an advantage and set me apart.
EBONY: From the gate, people will always probably ask what your background is. So let’s get real here: what is your background?
BS: My mom is from St. Vincent in the Caribbean and my dad is from Costa Rica. My mom is bi-racial, so I feel like I can kind of relate to a little bit of everyone. But seriously, I’m Black. [Laughs]
EBONY: So do you get the whole exotic Black beauty treatment?
BS: Yeah, sometimes I take it well and sometimes I get offended. Because I’m like, “What does that even mean?” I’ve heard, “Oh, you have such nice hair. You don’t have the typical Black girl features.” I’m like, “What are the typical features?” It’s a backhanded compliment and I hate it. I know Haitians and Southern girls who have the same hair as me, and that’s only to name a few ethnicities.
EBONY: You’ve made a little bit of a name for yourself being in Kendrick’s video, but what’s next for you? What are you looking to do in the future?
BS: I graduated from St. John’s last year with my master’s in international communications. I did the whole marketing and advertising thing. I really want to see the world. I’m trying to tap into the commercial field. I also have my personal website, From B to You. I want to do more volunteer work. Me and my friends have been talking about volunteering with orphans and just giving back in general. But as of now, I’ve been doing a lot of auditioning. I hope opportunities like the one I had with Kendrick propel me, and I hope I can use my master’s later on in life to take me to the next level. I’m just really focused on being successful and possibly helping the next girl be successful too.
Melanie Yvette Martin is the Beauty and Style coordinator for EBONY.com and the writer behind Beautifully Brown. Follow her on Twitter (@MsMelanieYvette) and Instagram (@MelanieYvette).