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Sahil Balani

Brooke Shields, an actress, author, model, entrepreneur, and mother took part in this year’s Brown Fashion Week speaker series. Shields started working as a child actress and model; at the age of 12, she was critically applauded for her role in Pretty Baby. As a teenager, Shields continued as a teenage model and acted in other film and television projects. She went on to appear on the cover of Vogue, participate in a national campaign for Calvin Klien Jeans, and launch her own wellness company, “Beginning is Now.” 

The event was moderated by Elliott Stephanopoulos, Brown ‘25, who centered the dialogue around various aspects of Shield’s life. They started the conversation by discussing Shield’s experience as a child actress and model. It was disheartening to hear that she felt “disassociated with her body” and that she “didn't understand anything” about herself. Shields said that she “did not want to look at herself in the mirror”. She worked hard in a very competitive industry to get approval. 

It was not until college that created a change in Shield’s life. In her class, the results of a multiple-choice test were put on display. It was not until then, that everyone saw that she scored well and people started inviting her to study and other social interactions. She found a playing field academically, where it was easier to engage with more people. Shields emphasized that it is normal to have different friend groups in different settings, and I couldn't agree more. Hearing about her social struggles and knowing that she made it on top of her game is encouraging for myself and other students who can relate.

Speaking of school, Shields says that her first Vogue cover made her feel like she had “graduated.” She had made it, and it was not because it was Vogue, but because she got to work with an amazing team of photographers and people from the magazine. Shields stated that she valued the experience and interactions more than being featured. 

One of the most memorable parts of the conversation was when Shields expressed her life as an entrepreneur. She spoke about the taboo around women turning 40, and how people less frequently offer them roles in films and television. Although the world was being tough, she felt most comfortable in her body. Shields wanted to build a community of women to encourage them to start who feeling good about themselves, hence the startup name, “Beginning is Now.” According to Shields, the best aspect of being an entrepreneur is being able to work with and learn from talented individuals.. As a public figure, her personal life, like her virginity and her periods, have been topics of public spectacle and discussion. However, her role as an entrepreneur gives her the power to own her narrative. Shields mentioned her interest in non-fungible tokens (NFTs), as they are something that she can have ownership over.

After hearing about Shield’s extraordinary experiences and career, the conversation ended on a positive note, where Shields uplifted the audience by saying “you are your best advocate.”

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