Briana Smith has chosen an interesting career path.
The 2019 Miss Hooters International Pageant winner and calendar girl took home the crown in June of this year, beating out 80 women from across the country.
The 21-year-old, who’s the daughter of an Air Force veteran, also stars in the 2020 Hooters Calendar in support of Operation Calendar Drop. The popular restaurant chain collects and ships the calendars to active-duty personnel deployed in the United States and around the world.
According to Hooters, more than 100,000 calendars have been distributed to troops worldwide since 2013. And since the Clearwater, Fla., location opened in 1983, the company has supported veterans, servicemen and servicewomen, raising thousands of dollars for non-profit military organizations.
But when Smith isn’t serving hot wings and cold beer at the restaurant chain’s Sunrise, Florida location, she’s studying to be a mortician, following in the footsteps of her uncle, who is also a mortician in New York City, South Florida Sun-Sentinel reported.
Smith spoke to Fox News about her interest in the dead, how she discovered Hooters and seeing her sizzling snaps for the first time.
Fox News: In addition to working at Hooters, you’re studying to be a mortician. Why?
Briana Smith: Well my uncle also does it. And not a lot of people realize this, but you give people hope during one of the most difficult periods of their lives. You’re not just working on a body. You’re working on a mother. You’re working on a veteran. You’re working on someone who had a life, who had dreams. You’re working on someone who was very special to someone else.
You want them to look extremely peaceful. That what’s I want to give people. I want to give people hope that when they look at their loved ones, they’re not just seeing a dead body in front of them. They’re seeing their brother. They’re seeing their sister. They’re seeing someone they know and love. I want them to know that they’re loved is in a better place and that they were well taken care of.
Fox News: Were you ever hesitant about pursuing this path?
Smith: You know, when I told my uncle I wanted to do this, he took me aside and said, “Are you sure you really want to do this?” I said yes. He took me one day to see a dead body. I wasn’t afraid. I appreciated the art of his work and what he was giving to grieving loved ones. I wanted to do the same.
Fox News: What has this study taught you about life?
Smith: It’s taught me that life really isn’t forever. You need to find your friends, fall in love, face your fears, really savor life head-on. Because you never really know when your time will come. When my uncle walks into work, he’s seeing children, he’s seeing teenagers, he’s seeing old people, as well as young adults. You never really know when you’re going to go. You don’t want to live with the regret that you didn’t pursue something or you were afraid to try something new. This study has taught me to enjoy life to its fullest. Just live it up.
Fox News: When it comes to dating, what kind of reactions have you received?
Smith: Well, that’s one reason I did not date (laughs). I work all the time. I’m too busy for anything.
Fox News: How did you first discover Hooters?
Smith: I actually used to eat there once in a while. I always got the fish and chips (laughs). That was my go-to. I never tried anything else on the menu until I started working there. But my cousin was already working there. And at the time, I thought this looked like a great opportunity — go to school and work. I always wanted to be a server, but it’s hard to go into the restaurant business without serving experience. And not a lot of people are willing to take the chance on you. But when I went to Hooters, they took me in with open arms.
Fox News: What did it feel like wearing the iconic uniform for the first time?
Smith: You don’t really feel how iconic those orange shorts are until you wear them for the first time (laughs). It’s hard to describe that initial feeling. I remember thinking, “Wow, I didn’t think orange was my color until now.”
Fox News: What’s a typical day like for you?
Smith: When you walk in, you can already smell the burgers, wings and pickles (laughs). And of course, you eat it during the day. But you also get to meet all your regulars who come in and talk about their day. It’s like a little neighborhood.
Fox News: Some people believe Hooters is outdated. What would you tell these people?
Smith: I would honestly take those people to a Hooters restaurant and have them meet other girls like myself. A lot of people don’t know we actually do community service work. I don’t think that’s outdated. I think it really helps us embrace our neighborhoods and encourages us to give back… We send troops care packages overseas and let them know how thankful we are for their service and how we wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for their tireless service.
Fox News: What was it like shooting for this year’s calendar?
Smith: Honestly, it was a dream come true. I enjoyed it so much, especially meeting all the new girls. I wasn’t too nervous because I actually do professional modeling, so I felt like I was in my element, actually.
My relationship with the girls is just so strong. It’s literally like a sisterhood and I love it. We have the biggest impact on each other’s lives. We have each other’s backs. If I need anything, I could call on them. I love it. We’re all very supportive of each other.
Fox News: You were also crowned 2019 Miss Hooters International. Looking back, what compelled you to participate?
Smith: Honestly, I wanted the opportunity to meet other girls like myself and make more connections. And it was just an honor. And I thought it would be a really big deal for me if I won. You become a walking advertisement for the brand and represent them everywhere you go. You’re also doing a lot of community work in every state and you get to meet more people along the way. I thought it was a great way to make connections.
Fox News: Take us back to that moment when you saw your calendar images for the first time. What was going through your mind?
Smith: We had a big reveal party where we were given these scratch-offs. And under those scratch-offs were our pictures. They actually gave me the wrong picture purposely… After that, they were like, "Oh, sorry, we messed up your pictures. Something must be wrong." Then they opened up this big poster with my actual photo. I was just in shock. I was so unbelievably excited and happy. I had no idea how much it would mean to me. And I started gaining more opportunities from it.
Fox News: What are some misconceptions you feel people still have about the brand?
Smith: I feel some people, when they walk into the restaurant for the first time, just see girls in orange shorts. But you’re also seeing moms. You’re seeing future doctors, nurses, attorneys. These are all girls with lives and dreams. They’re in school or thinking about going back to school. They want to be leaders in their communities. If you were to walk up to any girl at a Hooters and go, “Well, what else do you do?” I’m pretty sure they’re going to give you a list.