With tattoos, an asymmetrical haircut and a height under 5'7, Alysha Nett is not your average model. In fact, despite her stacked resumé of modeling gigs (including her current work with Diesel and and upcoming looks with The Hundreds), Nett insists that she's more than a pretty face who gets paid for posing in front of a camera.
The self-proclaimed online personality has built a thousands-strong fanbase on Tumblr and heated up the web with her sexy self-made videos. Drawing confidence from her loyal supporters, she's now in the process of moving to L.A. in hopes of breaking into the entertainment industry. Given the Philly-based beauty's ambition, we're sure she'll blow up in a major way soon.
Interview by Tara Aquino (@t_akino)
Complex: You’re originally from Kansas. Did you move to a bigger city for a career?
Alysha Nett: Yeah, when I was living in Kansas, I started doing the modeling thing as a career and I started flying out a lot. It was getting in the way of my real job because I was doing hair at the time so I was tired of having to leave all the time. I just decided to leave and I moved to Philly because I have friends here and it was closer to New York.
When did you start modeling?
I guess it started with the birth of MySpace. When MySpace started, everyone thought they were a model. [Laughs.] So people would take my pictures and I thought it was fun. Then I dated somebody for a couple years who was actually a really great photographer and he kind of taught me how to be a better model. I took those skills with me and used the Internet and I just tried to make it happen.
What made you start your own Tumblr?
When Tumblr first came out, I didn’t really know much about it. I created an account a few years ago and, like most people, it was mostly reblogs of other people’s work and what I thought was cool. I started finding other people’s blogs that had pictures of me on it that people had found through the Internet somehow, so I decided to turn my blog into content about my work and what I’m doing and it’s gone really well for me. I jumped on the Tumblr bandwagon just in time.
How did you feel when you realized you were developing this fanbase?
It’s still kind of funny. I mean, it’s great, I love it. It’s nice to get e-mails from people and be able to talk to people and hear that people are enjoying my work or to go to places and have people see me. It’s pretty awesome. I’d be lying if I said that wasn’t what I wanted when I started.
Are you with an agency?
No, I do everything myself. I’m moving to L.A. at the end of the month and I think that once I get over there, I might look into talent agencies or something like that for more work. But, as of the past two years, I’m doing everything myself and relying on the Internet and social networking to kind of help me out and it has.
There are a lot of models trying to make it via social media. What sets you apart?
With the Internet, anybody can do what they want. I think people just don’t understand how much work actually goes behind it. I’m constantly working all the time, whether I’m shooting or not. People don’t realize it doesn’t happen overnight. It takes time. It’s taken years for me to get to where I am now and I’m still nowhere near where I want to be.
I see you modeling a lot of streetwear, but what kind of modeling are you into?
Well, I like modeling for sure but I use that as a platform. I don’t see modeling as my end goal. I’m using that and the Internet as a way to develop a fanbase so I can do other projects. I think of myself as more of an online personality because most of the time when I’m getting booked, people are just booking me because they want me to be myself, which is awesome.
That’s why I end up doing a lot of stuff with streetwear. I have a lot of friends in the industry. It’s easy and it’s fun to just to take their stuff and wear it how I would. But I definitely think this will go beyond modeling. It’s fun for now but I’m thinking ahead.
You make your own videos and interview other people on camera. Is hosting or having your own show something you think about doing?
That’s something that I would definitely like to try to make it happen. Part of the reason why I’m moving to Hollyweird is that I feel like if I want something like that to happen, I have to go out there.
I’ll probably try to push more into the entertainment industry as opposed to strictly modeling. I feel so limited. I like to be myself. I like to get my personality across and I feel like video and stuff like that is a better way to have more fun. I’m constantly looking for more fun.
What do people falsely assume about you?
Everybody always thinks I’m a lesbian. [Laughs.] That I’d be mean or that I’d be rude. I don’t know why people think that and I definitely don’t want people to think that about me but I think people can be intimidated by or feel like they can’t talk to me but most of the time they realize that I’m really nice.
You’re also famous for your tattoos. What was the first one you got?
I was 17 and I had been begging my dad to get a tattoo because it was getting to be cool. He was getting tattooed and so he called me and was like, “If you want one, then you have to come right now.” I had no idea what I wanted to do, so when I was driving over there I was brainstorming ideas in my head and I guess when I was 17, I thought it’d be really cool to get my own name tattooed on my lower back. It’s been covered up since then, but for three years I had the a tramp stamp that said “Alysha.” [Laughs.]
What did people around you say that to that?
It was so cool. This was like 2004. [Laughs.]
What did you cover it up with?
I have a giant picture frame on my back now, so I just went real big and covered it up with this huge piece. The bottom part of it has grapes and wings, so it’s busy.
Since you got it when you were so young, were you rebellious as a kid?
When I was a kid kid I was really good, but when I was in high school I was kind of bad. I always did well in school but I’ve always been really independent. I’ve always done my own thing and sometimes that gets you in trouble when you’re 16 years old.
Is there a memory of your adolescence that still haunts you to this day?
No, ‘cause you know I learn from everything. I feel much more mature for my age because of all the experiences I put myself through as a kid. So I don’t think I would take any of them back.
You have an edgy yet very fun vibe to your persona. What is your idea of an awesome night?
I had a fucking great night the other night. I spent the night in Brooklyn and I was just with my friends and we were drinking a lot, which is always fun. We were listening to music and stumbled upon a bar that had this bowling alley.
I can never go out with a plan. I just like to be around my friends and be able to dance at some point and dress up and be a girl. [Laughs.]
The fashion industry is known to be competitive and house a lot of egos. Do you ever have to deal with divas?
The only time I ever really have to deal with other models is if I’m styling a shoot. Luckily, if I’m doing that, I’ve also casted the models so I don’t get a lot diva personalities.
That’s something I try to not be as well. I try to keep things very simple, laid back and easy because it’s never fun to work with somebody who makes things difficult. Occasionally, of course, you’ll get some people who are part of a team that might be frustrating. But all you can do is try to make it the best that you can and pretend like it’s the best shoot you’ve ever done in your life and hope that it turns out good.
Since you’re up and coming and an Internet personality who wants to break out, what’s your greatest challenge right now?
Keep myself separated from everyone else. Because of what I want to do, a lot of times people place me in categories with other alternative tattooed girls who have crazy hair and lots of piercings and do more like fetish stuff and I’m not really into that. And I’m not tall. I’m just this basic girl trying to convince people that I’m cool so I’m trying to get over that hurdle. [Laughs.]