Don't try to stick the "dumb model" label on Cameron Haven, the IZOD Trophy Girl who appears relentlessly in the background of IndyCar winner's circle interviews. It's one of the few things that doesn't look good on the magna-cum-laude graduate of Florida State University.
She's a trophy girl (a trophy wife, actually. Sorry guys!) with a trophy brain. Beautiful and well spoken. Confident and articulate, rattling off seamless, spokesmodel-worthy paragraphs uncluttered with verbal ticks like "ah", "um", "you know" or "sort of." With nary a plea for World Peace mixed in.
Cameron can more than hold her own in conversation and has a big 3.9 college GPA to fall back on. But, for now she wears her "toasty" authentic driver's fire suit, chats with fans, poses for photographs, and deals with some unusual requests. All that and more make Cameron the latest Woman of pressdog™.
pressdog: So, when you were 10, were you like, "I want to be a model some day"?
Cameron: Actually I never thought I wanted to be a model when I was a little girl. I guess I wasn't the typical little girl. I actually grew up with two older brothers. I grew up a little bit of a tomboy, trying to beat them at all their Nintendo and Sega Genesis games and sports they played. Apparently my mother said at that age I wanted to be a (circus) ringleader. Which really cracked me up because I don't remember that at all. Maybe I just wanted to be the center of attention; I have no idea. I do love animals so, maybe that's an alternative career path if this doesn't work out. (Laughter)
pressdog: Maybe like a Britney Circus thing...
Cameron: Yeah, that's a little scary to think about, but...
pressdog: So when did you start thinking "hey maybe I could be a model"?
Cameron: I think I was about 16 years old. I definitely had the height going on (she's 5' 10") and I loved being in front of a camera, even though I really didn't know what I was doing. I actually entered a contest for MTV. They had MTV Model Mission. This went on for a few years and I think I did it the last year that they had it on MTV. In this contest I actually made it to the top 20 girls out of 5,000 girls who applied, so I was pretty excited.
I was pretty awkward when I was posing on the television show. I didn't really know what I was doing, but I loved every minute of it and that's kind of when I think things started off for me. I've always been a very outgoing person. I think that with modeling, a lot of girls just try to live off their looks. But I always bring an extra element of how many people can I meet and show them that I actually have brains and I have personality and there's more to me than what meets the eye? I think that's really helped me go far in life.
I was pretty much academically inclined. I was focused on being the teacher's pet and being number one in my class and I think that came from growing up watching my brothers who were straight-A students. My mother always instilled in us to be the best at everything we do and give 100%.
Really, the modeling didn't really take off for me until after I was done with college. I thought, this has always been kind of a hobby of mine, I've always wanted to get into it and try it, because I love fashion, I love being able to travel. I've lived in France for a while and studied abroad, so this is my opportunity to have some more of those experiences if I were to model.
So I actually had a local photographer in Tampa take some pictures of me on a beach wearing a bikini and wearing some casual clothing and I sent the pictures into a local agency. I didn't think anything about it. A few weeks had gone by and I had completely forgotten that I'd even sent in the pictures, I had so much going on. My career was kind of new into pharmaceutical sales and the next thing I know the phone is ringing and they're asking me to come in.
We put a comp card together immediately and they were sending me down to Miami and I'm booking jobs left and right. It was still a scary experience because there were so many beautiful girls. And these girls have been modeling since, for some of them, they were 12 or 13 years old. So is was definitely intimidated, but I kind of used my personality to try to win over the casting directors and set myself apart from all the other models.
pressdog: So where did you go to college?
Cameron: I'm actually a Seminole. So hopefully you're not a Gator fan. We don fights right? (Laughter)
pressdog: No no, I'm from Iowa...
Cameron: I went to school at Florida State University, was a marketing major, graduated magna cum laude, 3.9 GPA, so I'm pretty proud of that. I think that's what makes me so unique is that I came from that academic background and then later on I did some modeling.
pressdog: So when people see that you're a model do you get that dumb model stereotype?
Cameron: Sometimes. Yes, sometimes I do. But, like I said, modeling is just something that I'm enjoying for now, I don't think I'll do it forever. But it is one of my passions in life, so I'm just taking it day by day and thanking God every day for the opportunities that I have in front of me.
pressdog: So how did you get to be the trophy girl?
Cameron: That's interesting actually... I worked with different agencies and one of them in Tampa sent me to the casting call in Clearwater, Florida, for the trophy girl for the St. Petersburg race. They actually already had a trophy girl for Brazil and that didn't go over too well from what I heard. I think the original plan was to kind of hire a different girl in every city. So ... lucky for me. I went to the casting call and they told me to wear a tank top and some black leggings. And I'm like okay...
I went in there and I took some photos and whatnot. Of course that outfit was a far stretch from the fire suit I would later be wearing and people would know me by. It was kind of interesting because on that casting call I told them, listen, I'm going to be as aggressive as you need me to be to get IZOD that camera time. I will do whatever it takes as long as I don't get arrested. So I think that they liked that I wasn't afraid to get out there and to walk up the fans and start talking to them. A week went by and it was the Friday before the Sunday of that race (St. Petersburg) and I the next thing I know I get a call saying that was it, I had been chosen. I was jumping up and down in my living room screaming. It was a very, very exciting moment in my life.
pressdog: Did you know about the fire suit at that time?
Cameron: You know, I didn't. That night we had an event, I believe was in Clearwater, and when I put it on I was like wow I'm going to be hot in this, and sure enough it does stay pretty toasty. It was authentic and I got a lot of stares and a lot of looks, but I think that definitely fits in quite well.
pressdog: It's a real fire suit? (Layers of Nomex and the whole bit?)
Cameron: Absolutely, it’s real.
pressdog: Maybe they should give you like a facsimile suit that’s lighter?
Cameron: (Laughter) I love to workout, so maybe I'm a little bit resistant to the heat and I'm a Florida girl, so I’m used to it being pretty hot and humid out. That's probably the first and number one question I get: Is that suit hot? Yes. It is hot; it is authentic. Next year were thinking about the possibility of creating a suit made of lighter weight material. I definitely feel for the drivers. When they get out there pretty drenched in sweat so I don't have it that bad. (Laughter)
pressdog: Did you have to have training so you knew where to position yourself for the camera or how do you know that?
Cameron: There really wasn't training involved. My very first race I was very stressed out and a lot of specifics came to me about where I had to be and where I can look and I had to know exactly what to do, but nobody was showing me what that was, so I really kind of had to figure out on my own.
But -- a tiny little secret -- my trick is that I follow (Firestone) Firehawk. You watch Firehawk. That guy is on top of it. He knows exactly where to be. He knows the perfect camera angle. I'll be running around like crazy and I'm like "that's where I need to go." That's kind of my little trick. That's who I learned from, the Firehawk.
pressdog: Do you know who he is?
Cameron: I don't know who is. I've never seen him out of his suit.
pressdog: Have you ever seen him with his head off?
Cameron: No. That would be a little strange. (Laughter) The first time we talked I was pretty shocked. Firehawk and I stick together. Were pretty good team out there.
pressdog: So you don't fight for camera time? No elbows or hip checks?
Cameron: Absolutely not. He's very generous about moving over and letting me get my camera time. I definitely appreciate that.
pressdog: So is somebody with you to tell you where to go etc.?
Cameron: No. I would say after the second race everybody disappeared and then it was all on me to figure out what I needed to figure out. You learn it; you learn who the Versus guys are and ESPN, you know where you're supposed to be. Still, it's a little tricky because my best spot to be in, when they are interviewing in the winner in victory circle, is right in front of the (still photo) camera guys. And I tell you, they don't always like it, but I have to do it. I have to get in there and get Izod in the picture. I want them to get their pictures too, but it's my job and I'm going to stick to it. (Laughter)
pressdog: Was the first time you saw in IndyCar race when you started doing this?
Cameron: Absolutely, it was my first time and I'm really proud that we actually have a race in St. Pete, that's where I live now. It's a beautiful city and it was also my first time getting in the back of a pace car and driving around at 90 mph through downtown. I held on for dear life. It was one of the best experiences I've ever had. Now I'm ready for my two-seater ride. (Laughter)
pressdog: What did you think of the racing the first time you saw it?
Cameron: I think it's really incredible. I really like the intensity of the sport. What really draws me to IndyCar racing is that you have these drivers, the best drivers in the world, coming from all across the world, getting in these multimillion dollar cars and making speeds up to 220 mph, and when you're out there seeing it in person it's almost a surreal experience.
pressdog: Do you get asked for autographs?
Cameron: Yes I do. And the first time it happened it was -- I wouldn't say uncomfortable -- but it was a little awkward. I was looking around like "Are they talking to me? Or is there somebody behind me that they want their autograph?" So I do get asked for autographs. At first they used to just write Izod Trophy Girl. I wasn't really sure what to put. But now it's kind of evolved and I usually put my name, Cameron, try to write a personal sentiment on their too. The only time it kind of gets awkward is when a fan comes up to me -- and this happens every race, usually more than once -- and hands me a picture of a female driver and asked me to sign. I'm always flattered but it usually ends up in laughter.
pressdog: I read you get mistaken for Milka.
Cameron: Everybody. Every female driver. Today it was Danica, and that's a rare one. She is beautiful and I love her, but but I'm 5 foot 10 (and she's 5' 1").
pressdog: And she has jet black hair ...
Cameron: So there's a little bit of a difference there. Milka is most often. Actually the other day somebody called me Fisher. And they kept screaming until I had to turn around. I said "if I keep walking are going to think I'm so rude." So I waved. I didn't have time to stop and explain that Sarah wasn't me. It does happen from time to time but more and more fans are learning who I am and it's kind of a fun little Where's Waldo for them.
pressdog: You probably have your picture taken with fans like 100 times a weekend.
Cameron: I do. I do get my picture taken and I love that too. It makes it completely worthwhile putting on a fire suit in 90° weather. So if they didn't ask then it wouldn't be as much fun out there. Sometimes I get some strange request too. Sometimes I've been kissed by guys who are as old as my grandfather. Luckily it's only been on the cheek so far. Most fans are pretty polite and sweet.
Today even a guy asked me if he could hold my leg while we took a picture. I had to tell him that my manager was watching so I couldn't do that and he said all right is it okay if you hold my leg? I had to turn down that one too. Generally I don't like to say no the fans but every now and then there's...
pressdog: You gotta draw the line at leg holding I would think.
Cameron: (Laughter) They don't like to give up. Some of them are pretty relentless.
pressdog: What's been the reaction to the Playboy shoot and the video? (Note: the shoot features some skin, but no nudity. Video from the shoot below. View all photos here.)
Cameron: So far from the Playboy.com shoot I think a lot of the fans have been pretty excited about it because it does showcase the new menswear line. Of course it does feature myself and another model. So I think it's a different perspective of it and people have been pretty excited about it so far. It's been pretty positive from what I've seen.
pressdog: Is the other girl another trophy girl?
Cameron: She's actually a playmate for Playboy.
pressdog: So there's not two trophy girls?
Cameron: There's not two trophy girls. No, no. Just me.
pressdog: Do some people have problems with the level of skin involved in the photos?
Cameron: The best thing is that we live in America where we have the right of free speech so every woman out there and every man out there is entitled to their own opinion. I completely respect whatever that opinion may be. I did feel like this photo shoot was done in good taste. I do feel that the pictures turned out absolutely beautiful. Very tasteful. But I can understand how there might be a little bit of controversy and there is always going to be a little bit of a debate when you have that kind of thing, that sex appeal out in the open in the public. I understand that, but my suggestion would be to a fan who has a problem with that, then don't go to the website, don't view the pictures because this is meant for the adult fans. And not anyone who is uncomfortable with it.
When I am out there at the events, I'm dressed head-to-toe in this fire suit. It's not an easy job, but I love it. And even though it does get hot, I'm dressed appropriately and I'm covered head-to-toe and I think that's the way it should be. I think that IZOD is very supportive of this (Playboy.com photo shoot) and it does showcase in a different light a different part of me that was may be good for the adult fans who wanted to see something a little bit different.
pressdog: Long-term do you worry about a model's limited time where she's in demand?
Cameron: I don't really worry about that because, like I said, my work career came first, before the modeling. Modeling will always be there. It may not always be my full-time job in life. When I went to school, I performed extremely well. I know that I have the confidence, brains and everything that I need to be successful in my life whether it's within modeling or sales or a completely different industry. Really, I live day by day and try to be gracious and grateful that the fans have been supportive and welcoming to me. I hope that while I'm here I can contribute something good and add a little bit of a different element to the IRL.