North Huntingdon native lives model whirlwind life
Billie Jo Powers is taking a break.
When she was an 18-year-old senior at Norwin High School six years ago, Powers was selected homecoming queen, and her life has never been the same. In the years since then, she has been on the move, crisscrossing the country on an often frantic schedule.
But back in North Huntingdon this summer visiting her mother, Peggy Powers, she's been kicking back and taking a much-needed breath.
"I'm just trying to take it easy for a while," Billie Jo Powers said. The pace of her cross-country schedule picks up by the end of summer.
"These last six years have been extremely exciting, and these past several months have been quite hectic," she said.
In February, she was in Hollywood, Fla., and in Los Angeles a month later. In April, she traveled to Dallas, and in early June, her destination was Nassau, the Bahamas.
She is headed to Las Vegas in August, and in December, it's back to the Bahamas.
"And it all began as a fluke thing," she said. "I became involved in a modeling competition with Model America at the Pittsburgh Sport and Fitness Expo when I was 18. I won the Model America competition, and this set the stage for pursuing my modeling career. The further I went and the more success I found, the more I thought, 'Maybe I could do this.'"
So her travels began.
After winning Model America's top prize in Pittsburgh, she was contacted by Hawaiian Tropic, for whom she competed locally and in Connecticut, besting the competition at Connecticut's Foxwoods Casino. That triumph put her in the United States Hawaiian Tropic International 2005 finals in Hawaii. She was selected to be Miss October on the 2007 Hawaiian Tropic International calendar.
Following her Hawaiian Tropic success, Powers participated in a Planet Beach (indoor tanning spa/services) competition at Treasure Island, Tampa, Fla., during the Pittsburgh Steelers' 2009 Super Bowl appearance.
"I was the only girl from Pennsylvania," she said, noting that she was named Miss Planet Beach, which included a cash prize bonus.
This past year, while modeling in Hawaiian Tropic's Tropic Beauty Contest in Hollywood, Fla., Powers won a spokesmodel contract.
Thanks to having competed as a model in a Playboy Golf Outing last summer at Quicksilver Golf Course in Pittsburgh, Powers was selected, along with two other models, to travel to Los Angeles for a week in March, during which she met members of the Playboy staff, Playboy Golf tournament winners, celebrities and corporate sponsors.
"I've had some fantastic opportunities, and each has opened new doors and new opportunities. And I'm actually getting paid to do this," Powers said, chuckling at her good fortune.
In conjunction with Powers' Los Angeles Playboy excursion, she visited the Playboy mansion in what she called "an experience of a lifetime, a completely awesome opportunity."
Out of 400 women, Playboy selected Powers to represent Playboy Golf. Additionally, she received a Playboy Bunny diamond necklace.
"Billie Jo has been an exemplary Girl of Playboy Golf in terms of her beauty, style and attitude," said Ajay Pathak, president and CEO of Playboy Golf. "We've worked with her on several events now, and each time she approaches the Playboy Golf Scramble with enthusiasm and energy that really makes our golfers feel welcome and ensures they have a great time at the event."
As summer arrived, Powers trekked to the Bahamas to compete in the American Dream Calendar Search. Among more than 50 contestants, Powers was selected to be Miss February 2012. With her American Dream success, Powers won an all-expenses-paid trip to Las Vegas this August to compete in the American Dream International Calendar contest. Judges in the Las Vegas event will include representatives from MGM Studios, which Powers hopes may open more doors.
She plans to return to the Bahamas in December to compete for a spot on the cover of the American Dream calendar.
Realizing the tenuous nature of modeling, especially at the level in which she has competed successfully, Powers "would love to get involved with the fitness aspect of modeling, and I would like to appear in magazines modeling for different companies and various products. I would also like to travel and see more of the world, but 10 years from now I want to be more established and slow down a little.
"Even though I've traveled quite a bit, my heart is with my mom and her business. Right now, I'm living and loving life and enjoying myself, and being from a small town has made my success that much more special. I've had all good experiences, and I've learned from every one. But I've also learned that the key to success is to be yourself and enjoy it."