It’s hard to believe Delaney Holley was ever nervous to be in front of a camera. Today, she seems like a natural as she flashes a confident smile while strutting down King Street West in Toronto. This is a girl who turns heads when she walks into a room.
Crowned Miss Intercontinental Canada in 2014 as part of the Top Model Search Canada, Holley quickly asserted herself as one to watch in the fashion world. But even after modelling for top Canadian fashion designers including Rachel Sin and competing at an international level in Germany, Holley remains humble and grounded. She credits her personable nature to her upbringing in Renfrew, Ont., a town an hour west of Ottawa.
“When you live in a small town you get involved in everything. We were the kind of kids who were taking lessons in anything you could name! I was on all the sports teams, and taught swimming and skiing,” says Holley. “It definitely helped to open my eyes to the possibilities of what I could do in the future.”
It was in Renfrew that Holley entered her first pageant, Miss Teen Ontario East, often referred to as a pageant with a purpose due to its charitable association with the Candlelighters organization. A family friend and organizer of the pageant encouraged Holley to get involved.
“I thought, ‘No way! This is not for me.’ But I entered and loved it. It opened so many doors. Gave me the opportunity to sit in on interviews, progress my public speaking skills and work closely with the Candlelighters charity.”
At her first pageant, Holley met a judge who owned the Barrett-Palmer modelling agency in Ottawa. As an 18-year-old with little experience in front of a camera, Holley admits she felt like she was going to pass out from nerves during her first shoot six years ago. In retrospect, Holley was glad she entered the modelling industry when she did, rather than at an earlier age.
“You can take people’s opinions with a grain of salt because you’ve already got that inner confidence. If it’s feedback that will better you, then great—take it. But if it’s something negative, you can keep going because you’re self-assured,” she says.
Promoting a healthy body image is important to Holley: she adamantly preaches about balance to young girls who ask for modelling advice. Her own beauty routine revolves around using The Body Shop’s vitamin E cream, walking an hour a day and running often.
“People say running is not the best if you’re a model because it builds muscle, but I’m fine with it. If I suit what a client is looking for, great! If not, then thank you for the opportunity,” she says. “My sister and I did a half marathon last spring and I want to work towards doing a full marathon eventually.”
Best friends with her older sister Hannah and younger sister Carolyn, Holley spends her free time singing and recording music with her family. The three sisters grew up singing together while taking voice lessons at the Royal Conservatory of Music, and recorded their first cassette tape when Holley was just nine years old. They’ve now started songwriting and plan to lay down some new tracks by the end of the summer.
“Working in music is my ultimate dream. It’s pretty special to be able to do this with my sisters,” says Holley. “It’s helped all three of us to become more active in the community and I think that’s what has influenced me to be such a people person. Whether it be a photo shoot, a runway show or an event, I really try to focus on learning about the people I’m with.”
This fall, Holley will be doing some promotional work during the Toronto International Film Festival and then going to New York to meet with some agencies. At the end of September, she will be heading to Milan, Italy, to model there for a few months, an opportunity that arose through an agent she met during Top Model Search Canada.
As Holley passes the Miss Intercontinental Canada crown to the 2015 winner, she’s more than ready to embark on the next chapter of her modelling career in Europe. Undoubtedly, her background in community involvement will serve her well.
“Often times, you go to castings and there are hundreds of models there. How do you differentiate yourself from all of the wonderful, intellectual and beautiful people? I try to be as positive as I can,” she says. “If you have that inner confidence, you can take on the world. There’s no challenge too big.”
Note from the Editor: Delaney Holley is currently represented by Elite Toronto.