Miss USA's Brittany Oldehoff opens up about Hooters past: 'It really is a big family'

Brittany Oldehoff may be best recognized by fans as the 2014 Miss USA fourth runner-up, but before the 28-year-old found fame as a swimsuit pinup and fashion model, she got her start as a Hooters Girl. And for the 21st Anniversary Hooters International Swimsuit Pageant, Oldehoff was one of the judges.


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Oldehoff spoke to Fox News about her history with the iconic restaurant chain and her own pageant years.

Fox News: Some fans may be surprised to know that you helped pick out a winner this year at the Hooters pageant. What was it about this show that made you get involved?
Brittany Oldehoff: I was a Hooters Girl when I was 18, very briefly before I started modeling. There’s the family aspect of the business. It really is a big family and any time they ask me to help, I will always 100 percent say yes because the Hooters family is such a strong bond. Everybody is really close and it’s a really good environment to be involved in.

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Fox News: What are some misconceptions you feel people have about Hooters?
Oldehoff: Looking from an outsider in… I can see how somebody may think the women are sexually exploited. It’s not like that at all. I’ve worked with girls who became doctors, nurses, lawyers, and judges — everything you can think of. A lot of the girls who’ve worked here are in college trying to get by, pay their rent, and pursue something big. The Hooters family supports all of that. When I worked at Hooters, my father passed away. I had a giant bouquet at the funeral from Hooters. I know their hearts are good, and they’re all great to work with.

Fox News: How were you discovered as a model?
Oldehoff: My mother signed me up when I was 10-years-old for John Casablancas because she couldn’t teach me how to do hair and makeup and she wanted me to learn from a professional. After I took those courses, when I was 17, there was a call for former John Casablancas graduates to meet with top New York agencies. I went and I was scouted. I signed up with Wilhelmina Models at the time, but I’m no longer with them. My career just took off from there.

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Fox News: How did your pageant years impacted your modeling career?
Oldehoff: The pageant and the modeling worlds are very different. I can tell you that based on having been a model first. Most pageant girls do pageants first and then they model. Modeling is very clean-cut and dry. You show up to castings with no makeup on. Nothing at all, as if you rolled out of bed. Hair’s not done, makeup’s not done.

Whereas with pageants, you’re a full-on beauty queen, you’re ready to go all the time. For me to adapt was really hard. I signed up because a former model told me I should do it. I did it and I won, and to be honest with you, I’m so glad I had the opportunity to try it because it really shaped me into being the woman I am today.

Fox News: When it comes to pageants, how easy or difficult is it to make a mistake on stage?
Oldehoff: It varies. I guess I’m a seasoned veteran, so I’ve been doing this for about 12 years. It’s a little different for me, but things do happen, I can tell you that. On Miss USA, I slipped on my dress, but it wasn’t caught on camera... Things do come up, but even still, if a girl falls, gets right back up, and laughs it off, I would probably still give her a 10, just for the confidence. 

Fox News: Where does your confidence come from?
Oldehoff: It comes from dance. I danced for 14 years. My parents signed me up when I was 5-years-old. Imagine a 5-year-old doing solo auditions on stage. You gained that self-confidence with time because you feel like you can do anything on stage. I’ve taken that confidence to runways, I’ve taken that to pageants, and everything in between. And at the end of the day, it’s all just dance for me.

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Fox News: What’s your take on Instagram models?
Oldehoff: Social media is very, very prevalent right now in our industry. Everything is going digital. I know a lot of girls that have been discovered on social media. I personally have a good social media following. I do think it’s important and in all fairness, it’s good. I understand the brands want to be out there and represented by millions of people. Right now, social media is really good to me. I know it’s harder for some other people, but I do think it’s the future.

Fox News: How should an aspiring model stand out these days?
Oldehoff: Social media is very important. A lot of agencies are looking at social media followings. If you walked into an agency now, unfortunately they’re not going to base it on looks alone, what you’ve shot, or what you’ve done. They’re going to check your social media following. That’s really important. However, I know some new young faces that are doing really well on their looks alone.

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Fox News: How do you physically prepare for a swimsuit shoot?
Oldehoff: It honestly depends. I lift weights and I do cardio. I mostly lift weights. But when it comes to doing something very specific, like a job I really need to look good for, I’ll eat lean meats. No carbs. I’ll be on a very strict diet to make sure I look my best.

Fox News: What’s the most outrageous thing you’ve done for a good photo?
Oldehoff: I was in Antigua shooting a campaign for a yacht company. It involved a drop and it was 50 feet from the top to the bottom of the yacht. And they wanted me to jump from the top of the boat to the bottom. They actually had one of the yacht boys who was working, who wasn’t even a model, be in the shot with me for the picture.

We were supposed to hold hands and jump into the ocean. When the 1-2-3 count came, I was ready to go, but at the last second, I let go of his hand and he jumped by himself. I was just laughing and looking at him go. I didn’t jump in the water because I was too scared, but it ended up being the shot.