As an actress, a model and an influencer, Arielle Ray is living out the Los Angeles dream. Originally from Kansas, she moved to California in search of stardom and has since featured in Playboy, MAXIM and FHM.
Recently back from a shoot Bali, she can't help but first mention some unusual ideas which never came to fruition - involving wild monkeys, culinary treats placed on her body and (presumably) nerves of steel. However, she is also keen to state that she's at a transitionary period in her life.
Briefly mentioning that this would commence with a madcap video where she pours milk over herself, she backed up her claim a few days later with the video below. Bored of following others' direction, she aims to take back control of her content.
VT: How many years have you been modelling?
“Since I was a baby. My mum put me in LA Models. My mum was a hair model and my dad was a model too. But he’s a doctor. So yeah, I was paying the bills!”
VT: And in addition to being a model and an influencer, you’re also an actress?
“I am, yes. I just made a vow that I’m not going to drink until I book something. First, it was to not drink before Bali but now I’m like ‘f*ck it, I’m going to keep it going’. Because now I feel like I don’t deserve to drink until I book something. But yes, I am an actress. That’s what I would like to make my primary thing.
“I’m going to start doing stuff that feels more authentic to me”
“I started creating my own content. That was the first half of the Bali trip and the second half was the Maxim part. Instagram is a platform that I can use to get my stuff out there. Because if you go on my page, it just looks like ‘modelling, modelling, modelling’, so I’m going to start doing stuff that feels more authentic to me - and create my own content.”
VT: What was the content you were filming in Bali?
“I think I’m going to call it ‘The Scantily-Clad Confessions’. I’m not sure yet. But I’m doing monologues in swimming suits and lingerie. It’s very weird. I’m talking to no one and it’s kind of funny. I look like a crazy person.
“David Lynch does this scene [in Wild at Heart] where this girl puts lipstick all over her face. So I did Macbeth, putting lipstick all over my face. I’m making odes to some of my favourite people that I look up to in the business.”
“It’s like, would people listen to Macbeth? Or would they listen to Macbeth in a swimming suit?”
VT: How does your Instagram account differ to the what’s published by websites or magazines? Is this the "real you"?
“Yeah, I would say I’m starting to not give a f*ck. I’m going to start posting stuff that I want to post. Because it’s like, how many pretty girls are on Instagram? There are so many. God bless them. They’re great. I love them all. But, there’s just nothing different about it. So I’m just trying to make myself different and feel more authentic. Because a picture is a picture but there’s life that comes behind a picture - so I’m trying to represent that more. And I want people to look at my page and be like 'that girl’s an actress for sure - look at all these things she’s doing'.”
VT: What’s the difference between a Playboy model and a Playboy bunny? Do you graduate to ‘Bunny’?
“Yeah, I would love to do that. But I think it’s a full-time thing. I was in a movie with some Playboy Bunnies and they have to do a few more sexual things, video-wise. It’s all done very tastefully and I don’t know if it’s something they have to do anymore but yes, that is something I would like to graduate to.”
“I love my body the way it is and I like to eat but I’m not going to gain weight”
VT: Two years ago, Playboy announced that they wouldn’t feature nude photos then reversed that decision last year. What are your thoughts on this issue?
“I think it’s really hard to try to change something that has been set in stone for so long. Just stick with what you’ve got, right? Stick with what you’re good at.”
VT: In your opinion, how does one find fame on Instagram?
“I would say, really be you. Really be the authentic you. Otherwise, it’s just not going to work. If you try to fake it or be someone that you’re not, it will come through eventually. Time will tell.”
VT: When it comes to dating, is fame a gift or a curse?
“I’ve dated men that are ‘more successful’ than me and I would say, it’s kind of a curse. They’re about them and that’s all. You’re not asking a girl that’s very lucky right now in the dating pool. I’ve been such a Negative Nancy [...] I think I just date the wrong men.”
VT: How do you aim to promote body positivity through your work?
“I was thinking about that because I took some videos and I know I’m going to get such a backlash with people calling me fat. But I think it’s really just about loving your body. And that’s something I can talk more about, when I do get the hate. You just have to accept yourself.
“I went to talk to my modelling agency and they were like ‘you can gain 30 pounds or you need to lose 15’ and I’m not going to do either. I’m healthy, I love my body the way it is and I like to eat but I’m not going to gain weight.”
VT: And you thought people were going to call you fat for the videos?
“Well I have a swimming suit on and I’m eating corn and I already get called fat and I haven’t even shown ‘all of it’. So yeah, it’s just something I’m going to have to be ready for. But I think it’s something that the industry needs to change. They have something so extreme and then they have something to the other extreme. And I love all this body positivity that’s going on but there’s not an in between.”
“It’s a great movement and all, but it has maybe altered some things that would’ve been positive for women”
VT: You’ve worked to help those living with eating disorders, so do you try and avoid publishers who Photoshop their images?
“I don’t post a lot of things when they Photoshop a bunch. You can tell. My legs aren’t that long. I’m not that skinny. Can we just go a little more normal, please?”
VT: But you work with those publishers nonetheless?
“Well, yeah. I don’t have a say. There are some actresses who have enough star power to say that [...] But it’s like, if we all just ate organic food, right? If we all just didn’t do Photoshop, we’d all just look like normal people.
“I remember when I was on Instagram years ago and I was like ‘how do these women look like this?’ Their eyes are big they look like dolls. I didn’t know about Facetune. I was just wondering how the f*ck everyone looks so good.”
VT: What do you say to the criticism that your photos are perpetuating beauty standards?
“You know what, my agent also told me ‘well, auditions are hard because you don’t have an edge to you. If you had an edge, we could get you more auditions but pretty girls aren’t a thing.’ It sounds really stupid but that’s literally what they said.
“I hope, by these videos, people will see more of my personality. I really want my personality to show and I think that’s not an easy task to do sometimes. But as I’m getting more confident with myself and who I am and really just not giving a f*ck, I hope my true personality will show through.”
VT: How has the #MeToo campaign affected your industry?
“I would say it’s still happening, definitely. But there’s a lot of women that I know who aren’t getting jobs because men are scared of giving them jobs. It’s a great movement and all, but it has maybe altered some things that would’ve been positive for women.
“It’s unfortunate but it’s also helped people too. Because men won’t touch a f*cking woman with a 10-foot pole now.”
"People have said so many different things about me and none of them are usually true"
VT: Do you know of anyone who has suffered harassment?
“I had some friends who came out with stories but I’ve never known personally. But you just don’t know. I hate gossiping. It’s happened for sure in my friend group but I don’t ask questions because I don’t need to know. I don’t want to know.”
VT: Is this not the status quo leaching into our mindset, as there’s still this sense that you shouldn’t pry too much?
“Everyone always has different opinions about people. This sounds very naive of me if I’m like ‘I don’t want to know’ and then something bad happens to me. But I also hate having wrong perspectives of people when I don’t have the opportunity to judge it myself. Because there’s always one person who will say something bad and one person who will say something good. For myself, people have said so many different things about me and none of them are usually true so I just feel like it’s bad karma.”
VT: Is acting the end goal or is modelling something you’d continue with regardless?
“I really want to do Sports Illustrated and I’m hoping that my swimming suit monologues will help differentiate me. So that’s my endgame for modelling - that’s what I would love so much. But acting is my number one thing.”
VT: What would be your advice to young women looking to break into modelling?
“Love yourself. Just love yourself and shoot all the time. Keep shooting. Practise.”
Glamour modelling, it seems, is plagued with the same kinds of toxic ideas that fashion modelling is often associated with. Unfortunately, as well as worrying about being too thin or too fat, one should now worry about being too normal. Let's hope Arielle successfully breaks the mould - by just being herself.