Photos by Crystal at Picture Studios in Greensboro | Follow On Instagram @InsideMonthly

In this interview, we explore the life and career of Tara Nichole aka The Model Of Truth. Born in Greensboro and raised in High Point, Tara is a self-made model with 35+ published shoots, 42+ runway shows, 6 magazine covers and 6 billboards. Always candid and down to earth, she was happy to share her thoughts on business of modeling, the challenges of parenting in the age of social media, and the goals for her company, The True Development LLC.

Where were you born and what was your childhood like?

So I was born in Greensboro, North Carolina, but I was raised in High Point. It was a good childhood, a little different than most. I was adopted when I was around seven. I was three the last time I saw my birth parents, but adopted when I was seven. I grew up the only girl, the baby at that. I have all brothers, like six or seven brothers. It was real tough. I played all the sports. I was a tomboy. But it was fun. I had a good time.

When did you first take an interest in modeling?

I think I’ve always had an interest in modeling, even when I was younger. I loved taking pictures. I loved taking selfies. My family would tell you, Char was always taking a selfie somewhere. I’ve always loved it. I was very shy, though, so my mother actually never put me in modeling or had me do anything that had me standing out because I would hide behind her back. But I think I’ve always had a love for it. My mom tried to get me going when I was, like, 16, 17, with Locke Management in Greensboro. I did that for a little bit but did not take it seriously until I was about 26, after I had my daughter and my son.

Tell us about your auditions to be on Next Top Model.

Oh, wow. Y’all did your research. So, yeah, so Top Model, they came into town. I don’t know if y’all remember they had the 5’7″ and under grouping. I’m actually only 5’4″. People don’t know this. They think I’m taller than what I am, but I’m actually only 5’4″. So I went and I auditioned for them in Chicago. I flew up there. My mother actually gave me the packet and it was so thick. It was crazy. They asked all these crazy questions. They got in my business, like, way in my business. And so, yeah, I flew up there. I stood in line. Yep, I was one of those ones at 4 in the morning, standing there in a building trying to get in. I got in there. I had to go through all these rooms and all these auditions throughout the whole entire day. And I passed all the way through.

I auditioned in March, but the taping actually didn’t start until August. The crazier part is I actually came back home and found out I was pregnant. So it actually was like a fork in the road for me because it actually made me choose. I had to choose my career over being a mother. And I chose being a mother. That’s why I didn’t actually truly start modeling until I was 25, 26.

How is being on camera different than on the runway?

So for me, photography is pure expression. I’m more myself when I’m taking photos. I can express more. I can move more. I like to be in the moment and lose myself in the moment. So I’m more expressive. On the runway, it’s just kind of basic. You walk the runway, you get off, and there’s really no creativity for me on it. But yeah, I love taking photos.

Where have you been able to travel to in your career?

So I have traveled to many states in the United States. My most significant accomplishment is like when I’ve gone over to Italy and Spain. I went over there, and I worked for like two weeks. I did a few shows over there. I did fashion, did like two fashion shows over there, and I did a lot of photo shoots over there. And I was very surprised. It was my first time like overseas and stuff like that. So it was a big moment for me. I loved it. I didn’t want to go home.

How is North Carolina similar or different to other states?

They’re similar in that everywhere has talent. They’re different in that I feel like as far as fashion goes, we’re still in that pot of growing. I think it could get bigger than what it is. I know like the music industry right now in North Carolina is growing a lot. But as far as fashion goes, it’s kind of like tiptoeing its way around. For me, I think more or less my lane is more or less like an L.A. area. They have a lot of different looks and a lot of different styles. They do a lot more commercial stuff. When you’re thinking about editorial and high fashion, you’re thinking New York, even Chicago area, stuff like that. And when you’re thinking like swimwear and just more commercial work, you’re thinking like Miami. And video work would be Atlanta…ha ha.

Photos by Crystal at Picture Studios in Greensboro | Creative Direction by Jasmine Ray For INSIDE Monthly

What are the things that young models underestimate?

The hard work behind it. I know it looks so easy because everybody can say that they’re a model. You can go. You can post online. You can take a picture with anybody, post it up online, and you can say, oh, I’m modeling. You can even go to any type of casting and jump on a runway and say I’m a runway model now. But to actually become and embody a model, it actually does take hard work. It does take training. It does take sleepless days. And actually being able to stop and take care of yourself more than anything. I think because your body and who you are, you are your brand. So I think the hard work is sometimes overlooked and how much actually goes into actually putting together a concept shoot and executing something that’s not just a photo but actually art.

How were you able to build a career without an agency?

Networking. Networking and, once again, hard work. Actually going in, studying your craft, looking at your photos, being able to critique yourself properly and understand that there’s always room to grow. It doesn’t matter how great you are or how great you take photos or how well you walk a runway. There’s always room for growth and there’s always room for improvement.

When did you realize there was a need for your company?

When I realized I needed my company. And that’s just the honest truth. If I would have had something to be able to rely on like that, that it was an all one-stop hub, oh, it would have been crazy. When you’re modeling, there’s so many components of what you need to become what you see in a photo. You need a hairdresser. You need a makeup artist. You need someone to style you. You need a great photographer. All of those components, they matter. And you need to know how to pose. You need to know how to move your body. You need to know how to be comfortable within your body more than anything. So that’s what my company embodies. It embodies being able to take the fashion industry and put the best of the best in one area for you to learn off of, for you to grow off of, and for you to work with.

Photos by Crystal at Picture Studios in Greensboro | Creative Direction by Jasmine Ray For INSIDE Monthly

How did you come up with a name for your brand?

The True Development. I played off of my name, The Model Of Truth. When I was literally just sitting around, I was like, I need a name, I need a name, I need a name. I knew what I wanted it to be, but I didn’t have a name. And then I was like, True, the True Development. And I felt like that because my brand initially is to actually teach models how to become a brand, not just be a model, an Instagram model or a photo model or anything like that. Actually learn the business and understand this can be a career for you. You can make money out of it if you do it the right way.

What services do you offer or plan on offering in the future?

Right now, I am kind of a little bit of everything. So I do casting directing, I do creative directing for shoots, I do posing classes, I do runway classes. And now because I have a team of people, we now offer so many other classes. I have a stylist that is very tapped in, Alexis Rochelle, she is so tapped in. She can bring in other agencies, which obviously helps me. She brings in other designers. She can tap in with boutiques and things of that nature, makeup artists, all of that stuff. So it’s a lot of classes that we’re about to come out with, so I hope everybody is ready.

Tell us about the team you are building around you.

Excellence. That’s what I’m building around me, excellence. Myself and my brand, I have strived to always go above and beyond. That’s how I always felt. When Tara Nichole walks on your set, you know that the job shall be done. It will be to your standards and above. And the people I have on the team with me, they’re not underneath me. We’re right beside each other. They’re all great in what they do. They all own their own businesses. It just so happens that we all have come together for the same like-minded cause.

Photos by Crystal at Picture Studios in Greensboro | Follow On Instagram @RentMyStudio

What advice would you provide to your younger self?

Be more confident in yourself. Trust in myself. Trust in yourself a lot more. Yeah, trust in myself a lot more. I relied a lot of times on what other people thought I should be doing or what I felt like people thought I should be doing. Versus actually really sitting down with myself and figuring out what it was that made me happy. What made me feel like I was achieving things in life and goals and accomplishing things.

What mentors do you have now that you didn’t have early on?

I don’t know if I really have a mentor per se. But I have people around me that I’m able to always bounce ideas off of. Always able to get clarity from and get more insight from. My partner, my business partner, my friends. I’m very close-knit so everybody that I have around me, they’re 10 years plus for the most part. So just being able to have that, I feel like that for me is like a big cloud of mentorship. I don’t think it’s just one specific person.

What is it like raising kids in a world with social media?

Oh child, it’s a lot. It’s a lot because you can’t censor but so much. You can put all of the locks, the codes, you can block, you can do all this, that and the fourth. But they’re going to see it, they’re going to find it, they’re going to take it off. It’s a lot. It can be a lot. I let my children have their time and be who they’re going to be. But I also like to talk with them a lot so I can still always be aware of where they’re at mentally.

How has Producer Twenty (Igot20onmyBeat) impacted your life?

Child… Now y’all in my B’s. How has Twenty had an impact on my life? I’ve grown a lot. I’ve grown a lot. He’s inspirational. He’s inspirational. It’s like watching a male version of yourself low key. Because he’s a jack of all trades. There’s nothing that I haven’t seen him be able to do and not just do. He does it very well. Sometimes annoyingly too well. It’s inspiring to be around at all times. And watch how people gravitate towards him.

In what ways do you work together in your businesses?

Right now it feels like in every way. He’s in the music industry. I’m in fashion. As y’all know, fashion and music are hand in hand at this point. He has artists if they need models for video shoots. I’m right there to help him with that. And vice versa if I need something. People have asked for him to do music for certain shows. We’re real intertwined right now.

What do you plan on getting done by the end of 2030?

I want True Development to be just explosive. I want my team to have a team. And that team to have proteges. I want a super crazy strong roster of models. That I know I can send out. That I’ve groomed and helped develop. And I can send them out anywhere. And my name be solidified. That I can show that I can not only be great myself in front of a camera. But behind a camera. And teach and show somebody else how to do the same thing. I think that’s an accomplishment to me. It’s the marathon. It’s the beginning.

“I want my team to have a team. And that team to have proteges. I want a super crazy strong roster of models.” – Tara Nichole aka The Model of Truth