Sara Zaleski On Magazine Covers, Lessons Learned

A member of the Class of 2016, one graduate has achieved success

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Sara Zaleski On Magazine Covers, Lessons Learned

Photo by Omaha World Herald

Photo by Omaha World Herald

Photo by Omaha World Herald

Lily Yates, Quintessence Copy Editor

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Skutt Catholic students, teachers, and alumni alike were greeted with a welcome surprise opening a recent Sunday paper: graduate Sara Zaleski’s face smiling on the cover of Omaha World Herald’s Inspired Living Magazine.

Zaleski, a notable figure in the history of the school, is involved in everything from modeling and blogging to studio art, activism, and entrepreneurship. For a look back at Sara during her high school years, check out this article from days of old. This week, this former Flightline staffer had a few things to say about her appearance on the cover, what she’s been up to in the year since leaving the school, and her advice for seniors graduating next week.

Tell me a little about what your feature in the OWH magazine looks like and what the process entailed.

It’s a story-spread in the magazine- seven pictures, all with this funky vibe of a pink, fun, floral summer. There are also a lot of dogs! Really, it’s just a rad look at summer trends, and it incorporates local brands and stores.

As for the process, I got a text from my agent one morning, and she asked if I was free for a shoot with Inspired Living— and I cleared my schedule within minutes! It was about a six hour shoot with some super dope people— Heather and Jameson Hooton, a couple of amazing photographers that I have been blessed to work with many a time, a makeup artist, and a team of stylists from the magazine’s team itself. All great humans, and in all honesty, a fun day of playing dress-up! But, it is still work, of course.

Like working with the dogs, all of which came from the Humane Society. Oh, were these dogs adorable! But, trying to pose with an animal that obviously doesn’t care is a challenge. I had to walk some poodles. They’ve got a bit of attitude, so that was a workout. I loved the entire day! Every second of it was sincerely amazing!

What was it like when you found out you would be on the cover?
When I did get that text, I wasn’t 100% sure that it meant I’d be on the cover. Still, of course, I told a few friends and relatives that it was a high possibility. But when I saw the post from Inspired Living’s Facebook page, I kind of totally freaked. I mean, I know it’s not Vogue, but I’m pretty darn proud to have done something like this, both for the experience and to say that I did. It felt good. It’s something I’m never going to forget.

Can you describe some of the most memorable reactions you’ve gotten?
I sent it to my homies, Han, Lucas, and Emily right away. Their reactions almost made me cry- they support me in everything. Lucas’s tweet was probably the sweetest thing, though. Then a bunch of  people liked it, and I was honestly floored! The fact that anyone cares that much just overwhelms my heart.

What does this mean for your modeling career going forward?
Like with any work I do, this means that I’m gaining both experience and stuff for my book (my portfolio of pictures). Just like building a resume, it looks good. Constantly working is the real goal, and this helps to show that. Personally, this was a solid piece of self-motivation. I mean, I can look to any model and say, “I want to reach that level one day,” and stuff like that, but this was me, I guess. This is me taking my own step, and that’s super cool.

Tell me about how you got started in modeling and how you’ve progressed.
I started modeling about five years ago, just before freshman year, I think. I sent some pictures to an agency out in Bennington and started working with them. I did test shoots, learned a lot of stuff (that people don’t think about) that is still in the forefront of my mind as I keep growing, and did some work. I did some hand modeling; that was rad. You can find me in the back corner of a couple of Taco John’s commercials— Blur #1.

I’ve walked in OFW a few times and other shows for friends, some shoots. I’ve been working with this clothing brand for over a year now; that’s been so lovely! Then I signed with Develop Model Management last fall and have started doing more, including this. This does all sound pretentious, and I apologize! It’s all been an amazing experience, but quite a bit of work, and there’s so much more to be done! I’m hoping that there’s a lot more to come.

Was there any class or teacher at skutt that really helped your careers in art and modeling take off?
Ah, Skutt. It changed a heck of a lot during my four years. Mrs. Eck and Mr. Eledge, Art and Speech; they were my champions and constants throughout that time. They taught me to embrace my individuality and to roll with who I was. Keep it hipster, y’all. And of course, Elliott and Newspaper. What a time. Speaking up, even just to myself, is important. Know who you are so that no one else can tell you who to be. Those things that I wrote that we called articles meant a lot to me. Using words has become very important in my art, too. It’s all just rad stuff, to see how a few individuals impact you in such powerful ways.

What have you learned in your first year out of high school?
Have I learned anything…? Seriously, well, the clichés are often true—it doesn’t really matter! Like, have fun, enjoy high school. But it is such a small fraction of your life; do not let it define you, and don’t try to ever measure yourself against any of the standards it set. Like, I feel like I’ve been gone for years— so much happens out here! Embrace the freedom of youth (like, we have no responsibilities over here). Love life more than you ever have.

I have friends that are taking gap years, friends that have already found that college isn’t for them, and I’ve struggled with the idea of staying with the school thing myself. Just set your own goals, or decide what your dream is and focus on that. Even if it’s some vague thing– because I have no idea what’s going on ever! But I’m having fun, and I’m learning about myself. Oh, that’s it- no one knows what’s going on. No one. It’s just continuous movement, so do what you can to make it progressive. This is all over the place, but this is the point in your life when you’re legitimately allowed to be a mess, that’s what is supposed to be going on— embrace it!

What have you been up to outside of college classes and modeling?
Oh, I don’t do much. I still work at Crane Coffee— find me there almost every morning! Two years later and I still love my job. I’ve spent some quality time on Netflix, like quality as in a copious amount of time. Ha, but no. I’m trying to focus on art. Studio Art is my major, after all. I’ve put some stuff on Etsy, but right now I’m really trying to work on this other site called Society6. I am trying to build a community now, because that’s what I want to have in the future.

I also have some house plants, trying to grow chives. Bought another car, that was dope. Painful on my wallet, but dope. I’ve made some good friends, it took time, note that! But they’re super chill. I’m exploring Omaha a lot, both the place and the people. I don’t know. I always seem to be busy, somehow.

Do you have any advice for seniors about to graduate?
Oh my goodness, do embrace every last moment in high school, and the summer after! We reminisce now, and I’m sure we will for years. But look forward to what is ahead. College can be daunting and tears might be shed, but it is going to happen eventually. Life has to change, people change. Hold onto those ties, but don’t be afraid to open yourself to whatever comes next. Also, don’t wear heels to graduation, and keep them low at Baccalaureate. You, hopefully, made it four years without falling in the hallways. Don’t do it here.


To keep up with new art and designs from Sara, check out her Society6 shop here.

Lily Yates - Quintessence Editor-in-Chief

Lily became a member of The Flightline in August of 2015. She is a senior this year and enjoys an array of activities including choir, theatre and slam poetry. She is also on staff as a library aide at the Omaha Public Library. You can email her at [email protected]