Project Runway – East Boston’s Gianna Simone is on the cover of Boston Magazine

By Cary Shuman
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Gianna Simone knew she might be featured as one of the models in the October issue of Boston Magazine. The 20-year-old East Boston resident had participated in a full-day photo shoot with four wardrobe changes at Laconia Airport in New Hampshire.

But then Simone received the call that became the highlight of the modeling career that she began while a 16-year-old student at Boston Latin Academy.

“My agent texted me that I had made the cover of Boston magazine,” said Simone. “I almost passed out when I saw the message. It was unbelievable. This has been the best thing so far. It’s a prestigious magazine that is read by so many people.”

Simone and a male model (Doug) are fashionably attired and pictured together as they appear to have just disembarked from a small plane. The cover photo of the October issue introduces the magazine’s “52 Weekend Getaways” article that appears inside the magazine. Simone said has received several congratulatory calls since the magazine hit newsstands.

Photographer Shannon Michelle recognized Simone’s potential during a shoot for a portfolio four years ago.

“She [Michelle] thought I was pretty special because I knew how to turn it on and off in front of the camera,” recalled Simone. “She asked me, ‘Do you really want to do this?’ “And I said, yes, I really do.” She said to me, “I just want to tell you that you have what it takes to do it.”

It wasn’t smooth sailing initially for the stunning 5-foot-6-inch brunette. Some modeling agency representatives weren’t supportive of her dream to enter the profession.

. “But I just wanted to model – and the more people told me I couldn’t, the more I kept pursuing what I would like to do,” said Simone.

As Simone began to receive modeling jobs on her own (without representation by an agency), she fell in love with acting. “I went to Bunker Hill Community College for an acting course and became a member of SAG (Screen Actors’ Guild).”

Her acting career is blossoming as well. She has appeared in independent and feature films, including Bride Wars in which she plays a bridesmaid in a scene with well-known actresses Kate Hudson and Anne Hathaway. She also landed a small role on Law and Order Criminal Intent in an episode from the 2009-10 season.

But Simone has never lost sight of her goal to become an established model in the Boston area.

Eighteen months ago, Simone signed a contract with her first agency, Maggie Inc. of Boston. She has received several modeling assignments, having been featured in print and commercial advertisements for companies such as Reebok, New Balance, Coca Cola, and Hasbro.

Maggie Inc., a modeling agency on Newbury Street in Boston, helped Simone land on the cover of Boston magazine.

“I received a call from my agent at 7 in the morning,” said Simone. “He said, ‘I need you in New Hampshire as soon as possible. This is for a possible cover of Boston magazine.’”

Simone said she was basically competing with one other female model for an appearance on the cover of the magazine.

“When I get to the shoot at the airport in Laconia, I knew the hair stylist, the makeup artist – I had worked with them on photo shoots before. It was very welcoming. The other models, including the male model (Doug) who’s on the cover with me, were very friendly.”

Simone has displayed a versatile look that bodes well for her future in the highly competitive industry. Though she is of Italian descent, she has appeared in several multi-ethnic photo presentations. Some people have told her that she has a resemblance to Sandra Bullock and Kim Kardashian.

“A lot of people say that I’m very photogenic, but in a way that I take on each character that I portray,” said Simone. “I love to model gowns and odd dresses. I don’t like normal-looking dresses. Something has to be odd and cool that would make a great picture.”

Asked to name her favorite model or actor, Simone said she admires the work of Angelina Jolie. “I think she’s the most beautiful woman in the world. Her personality and her attitude make her beauty stand out more. She’s just free. She’s just herself and I like that.”

Simone is continuing to branch out in her career. She will visit Miami next month to speak with representatives from modeling agencies.

Simone is the daughter of Anthony Baxter. She has a brother, Michael, 21. Her boyfriend is Erik Ralston, a well-known fashion photographer whom she met at a photo shoot.

“My father has been a very positive influence in my life,” said Simone. “My brother has been very supportive as well. And I tell my boyfriend that we met each other on the paths doing what we love.”

With one magazine cover on her resume, Simone is looking ahead with optimism. “Hopefully, I’ll get many more covers,” said Simone.

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