Los Angeles: Photogenics.
Minneapolis: Moore Creative
Film, TV & Commercials: NTA in Los Angeles
Hometown: Minnetonka, MN
Current Location: New York
Nickname: Mom: "Sweet Pea". Closest Friends: "Rain or Rains"
Who is Raina? Tell us about yourself in a nutshell.
That's a loaded question! To make it short...I started out as the shyest, weirdest, most awkward kid there ever was.
Fast forward a handful of years, I Went to college in St. Paul. Minnesota for Concordia University on a volleyball scholarship. My last year in college, I went on the TV show 'Americas Next Top Model'c and placed 2nd. After I graduated college, I packed my car as full as it could be and drove out to LA to embark on a modeling career.
For 6 busy years of only modeling & acting I visited 14 countries, booked shows and shoots all over this crazy planet, and then ended up pursuing an acting career!
Then came along the best adventure yet- I got married to the most incredible man in the world. He played for the Minnesota Vikings so I moved back to Minnesota where I've been for the last year and a half...and now, he just signed with the New York Giants- so that's where I'm off to next!
Where are you originally from?
Where are you based now?
Minneapolis to New York
Tell us about your story as a model What inspired you to be a model?
I was such a shy and awkward kid. One day my Dad was taking my senior photos for the Highschool yearbook and I realized I loved being in front of the camera. I had always played volleyball growing up and never gave any of the arts a chance due to how busy I was.
In college, I started doing some photo shoots here and there locally in Minnesota. The more I did it, the more I loved it! One day there was a massive casting call for ANTM just blocks away from where I lived at the time, and if it hadn't have been for my friends insisting I go...I probably would've never gone (I never thought they'd be interested in me).
Lo and behold they thought I was pretty alright and a few months later I was in NYC & New Zealand filming ANTM! That's how it all started.
What are your favorite aspects of being a model?
It's rare to come across someone that doesn't enjoy what they do in the modeling and acting industries. It's so wonderful to be around people who love their jobs- people who are passionate about creating.
Modeling is a unique job where you are the sole piece that brings everyone else's artwork and effort together. There's a team of talented people (makeup artist, hair stylist, clothing stylist, nail artist, director, producer, designer, photographer, photographer assistant, lighting crew, art department and the list goes on..) that are all working for that one shot (or in the acting world, that one scene) and it's you that gets to be the binding piece, which is so rewarding.
What’s your most memorable experience in modeling so far?
Oh there's too many to count! I always love working with animals. I've had a giant albino python wrapped around my neck (So. Awesome.). Once I had a beautiful but seriously intimidating Arabian falcon on my arm for hours during a campaign shoot in Dubai. Another time there was a 2 week old baby lamb that fell asleep around my neck which made my heart absolutely melt...and the list goes on.
What influences did ANTM brought into your life and career?
The show really prepared me mentally for how fast paced and cut throat the modeling industry is.
How is life after ANTM?
At first, it was challenging....very challenging. I worked my bum off non stop, and learned quickly that rejection is probably the biggest part of any models or actors career.
I also learned that my thick skin needed to stay thick. The longer I was in LA, the more opportunities I got, and the more jobs I booked. Once that started to happen, I could celebrate a little because I could see my hard work finally paying off.
How is it being Mrs. Ellison?
By far the best thing in the entire world. Words cannot describe how wonderful it is being married to this man. I know I know...I sound so cheesy. But yo, it's true.
What keeps you busy aside from work?
During football season (6 months), it gets pretty crazy busy. When it's off-season, we like to vacation, spend time with each other and relax as much as possible before things start to get crazy again. I fly back and forth to LA a bit, but mostly stay modeling in the Midwest.
Aside from that, I love to workout and go running, and my husband and I enjoy volunteering at the Children's hospital and going to church & Bible study.
If you can compare your modeling experiences with food, what would it be?
Oh I like this question!!! Modeling is like being blindfolded when the waiter comes to set down your food. You're about to take a bite not knowing exactly what you're about to taste, but you're excited! Sometimes it's too spicy or too sour, but most of the time it's quite tasty and you can't wait for the next bite!
Name a book that you’re currently reading.
The Reason For God...It's seriously blowing my mind.
Any advice you can give to any aspiring models out there?
Stay healthy. Stay true to your morals and values. Don't be afraid to say no. Work hard. Don't let anyone make you feel less than extraordinary.
Working with a large cat of some sort...maybe a Lionness? Or a Cheetah? ...oohhh or a Panther.
Tell us a secret very few know.
I can play the trombone. :)
If you’re going to have a book what title would it be?
"It's All About The Journey"
If you will be given the chance and opportunity to help a specific charity, what would it be and why?
New Life: There are so many women and men who need counsel, love, and personal care when faced with an unplanned pregnancy, and it's important they know that there is loving support waiting for them with open arms.
Hope Academy focuses on giving an education to children and teens in the inner-city of Minneapolis. It's an inter-denominational school that advocates for justice, economic opportunity, racial harmony, hope for the family, and joy in the community.
The Emily Program: Having spent 7ish years in the modeling industry, I've come across many girls and guys who've struggled with an eating disorder. It's a serious problem, and needs to be addressed with love and professional care.
V-Day is an organization that focuses on ending violence against women and girls including everything from battery to rape to sex trafficking. These issues need serious attention, and I believe V-Day does a great job at that.