Remember that annoying ad campaign, “Don’t hate me because I’m beautiful?” Of course everyone hated the models because they were beautiful AND because they annoyed us by saying that.
When Raquel Russell Landry first came to our attention as a new author and we learned a little more about her successful career as a model, actress, and commercial photo shoot set stylist, our initial reaction was mixed: admiration, on the one hand, and envy on the other.
“It must be nice,” we thought, “to have everything handed to you on a platter, and be gorgeous on top of it.”
Little did we know how far off-base we were in our assessment. Landry has had nothing handed to her on a platter; everything she has, she has earned through her own hard work and tenacity, and through a spirit, like the phoenix, that rises and finds wings to soar again, out of the ashes she rises, from consuming fires that would have destroyed anyone else.
We are not at liberty to share Landry’s life journey with you; and she made this much clear to us: she is not a victim, and refuses to play that card. For that we applaud her. What she’s been through, however, has refined her, like a fire refines silver or gold. Her challenges have formed her character, a woman who responds with creativity and strength to the absurdities and disappointments of life, who, rather than crawling into a hole of self-pity and misery after experiencing the most damaging blow any of us ever faces–a blow to the heart–rose up and with courage did what more of us should do: she wrote about it.
Modeling & Acting Career
Landry’s interest in modeling came at the age of thirteen when her violin coach revealed that she also owned a large modeling agency in Ft. Lauderdale and wanted her to cast for her client, Coke.
Her career was mainly a hobby through her twenties but as she entered her thirties, she began to generate more significant interest when her agent in Naples introduced her to casting directors in Miami and Tampa.
She turned her attention to acting and began building her resume as a commercial actress and model, along with spokesperson and VoiceOver artist. She earned her SAG eligibility from Producer David Shor, who gave Landry her first lines in a major motion film. They are still friends and talk frequently.
She has had acting roles in many films and television shows including CSI Miami, Dave Barry’s Complete G2G, The Punisher with John Travolta, Stuck on You with Matt Damon, Karen Sisco, Aaron Spelling’s pilot of Hotel, and many others, along with covering and filling the editorial position in N Magazine, Bonita Living, and Coastal Elegance. Her list of modeling clients is quite extensive as well.
Landry, not knowing exactly what the job title entailed, accepted an interview to be measured and potentially work for a woman’s apparel company as a fit and presentation model. As foreign as it sounded in the modeling industry, they asked Landry to gain weight in order to be accepted for the position, so seven years ago she gained about eight pounds and was hired as a corporate model for White House Black Market and Chicos.
“It is by far, the most interesting and inspiring job I’ve had,” says Landry. “I work alongside bright, creative, and dedicated men and woman who brilliantly display what being a ‘team member’ really means. I am so fortunate to have a job that I love. I have never dreaded a day of work with this company and I’m continually impressed with their leadership qualities.”
Wardrobing & Set Styling
Because Landry was no longer spending as much time in front of the camera, her agent decided that the next progression in the industry would be for her to begin styling shoots for models, directors, producers and photographers. So she accepted the challenge and began taking on a few jobs a year wardrobing and set styling commercial advertising shoots and modeling shoots, including Quail West, a multiple time Sand Dollar award winner, Talis Park, Mangrove Bay, Physicians Regional, Drager, Floors Direct, and many more.
Players & Pawns: The Venture into Writing
So Naples Noteworthy asked, considering how successful Landry already was in her career, what made her decide to suddenly write a book?
And therein lies Landry’s philosophy in life: Never be afraid to challenge yourself. There’s always something new you can master. Landry lives by the motto, “When was the last time you did something for the first time?”
“I have experienced more in my life from posing that question and exposing myself to this amazing world we live in,” Landry explains. “The more afraid of it I feel, the more I face the fear.”
In her memoir, Players & Pawns, Landry gives a detailed account of a recent love affair she had with a man she originally met nearly thirty years before. The way the book came about was partly therapeutic–that sort of inventory we all do in an attempt to bring closure to a failed relationship. Landry, in an effort to organize her thoughts after her lover abruptly ended the relationship, browsed through their past correspondence, trying to find a hint of uncertainty on his part.
“Even though we only dated seriously for a short time, it was the most beautiful and romantic story of falling in love that I had experienced, and I didn’t want to lose those memories and the beauty of his words and actions, so I began writing it down,” says Landry.
“There was a stopping point where my best friend read my short story and very definitely told me to fill it in, finish it and publish it. I kind of laughed the idea off. I had no desire to self publish and the percentage likelihood of even having a manuscript read is so low that I made no concerted effort. I sent emails to two publishers on the Thursday before Easter asking them where I would send a manuscript and one of them even said that it took four to six months to have a manuscript read and not to hold my breath. Four days later after the Easter holiday, I had two contract offers. It was apparent that I had just been handed an invitation to the biggest and most exciting creative challenge of my life and I was ready for it. I’ve never been afraid to raise a few eyebrows.”
About the Book
Players & Pawns: A Lover’s Game of Catch & Release is a detailed and very raw account of Landry’s emotions and experiences as she fell in love and experienced a blow to her heart from the man she believed was sharing her hopes for a future together.
“It is certainly not the most epic tale of tales where lovers are concerned, but what it is, is a story that most people can relate to but don’t have the courage to tell,” says Landry. “So often, we hide our emotions, the good and the bad ones, because of the shame we feel for having been a fool. For me, I didn’t need to hide my disappointment, shame and embarrassment of being sucker-punched in the heart. I decided that if enough people thought my story was compelling, I’d share it with the world, and I had two offers on the table to help me do it.”
The events of Landry’s memoir take place right here in Naples, Florida, along our beloved beaches, which, of course, makes Players & Pawns a book of interest to us. We know Naples. This is our home. This is the place where all of us have found ourselves settling down–of all the places in the world, this is the place we want to be.
And how many of us have gone to the comforting roar of the beach in an hour of need, how many of us have sat on the shores among the broken shells, our own hearts equally broken, letting the warm waves wash over us, allowing the beauty of the world before us to calm our aching souls, to give us the courage and strength to keep moving forward even when dreams have been crushed, to somehow rekindle our faith in God and life and, if not love, at least destiny–even if it meant a new destiny we had not expected, or one that we would be walking in alone? Is that not why we all stay here, because of the magic of Naples, because of its ability to restore in us hope, because of the glimpse we have of our Creator all around us, in the beauty, in the positivity, in the moments of indefinable power that come unto us and make us think, “Things are about to change for me”?
We know the Naples of Players & Pawns. And sadly, most of us know the heartbreak told in its pages. What many of us don’t know, what many of us haven’t tried, is the decision Landry made to do something positive with her experience, to create something good out of something bad, and in doing so, to take control of her destiny, redefine her situation, and–in all fairness–write her own endgame.
It is that relentless moving forward in the face of challenges that defines Raquel Russell Landry. That we could all have such an attitude! What a different world it would be!
Where to Acquire the Book
Players & Pawns is available at Amazon.com, here.
You can learn more about the book on Facebook at Players & Pawns: In A Lover’s Game of Catch & Release, or at Landry’s website, www.raquelrusselllandry.com.
Landry is, as might be expected, proud of her accomplishment in publishing Players & Pawns.
“I have, once again, challenged my abilities and accomplished a feat that most people only dream of,” she says. “If nothing else, my children will always be able to read the dedication I wrote to them that I shared with the world. That means the most to me. I’ve proved that even a 43-year-old single mother of two teenage girls can do something unexpectedly profound.”
The Landry Twins: Alexa & Miranda
That’s right. We didn’t even mention that on top of being a successful businesswoman and author, Raquel Russell Landry is also the single mother of twin daughters, born nearly 17 years ago right here in Naples, Florida.
It’s probably no surprise that Landry turns out to be an exceptional parent. Her daughters have grown up to be remarkable young women–kind, compassionate, brilliant, fun, athletic, beautiful, and extremely witty.
Members and supporters of the YMCA, they spent their younger years developing their athletic skills by participating in youth basketball, soccer and softball.
Both young women are high school juniors and honor students, maintaining above 4.0 GPAs in honors and AP classes, and were recently invited to join the National Honor Society. Miranda is enrolled in the cosmetology program at Lorenzo Walker Technical High School while Alexa is at GCHS on a pre-med track. They are both also enrolled at Florida Southwestern and attend college classes in the evenings.
Though the school year keeps them busy in preparation for their chosen future careers, they are certainly no strangers to our community. The Landry twins volunteer for Ocean Kids Beach Camp, a not-for-profit summer camp held on the white sandy beaches of Lowdermilk Park. They are both CPR- and Red Cross-Certified child caregivers with special needs training.
Alexa and Miranda both have an inherited wanderlust from extensive travels with their mother and love to spend their free time traveling through the US, Europe and the Caribbean.
They are also avid campers…albeit often in their own back yard. With the cooler weather back on its way, the camping gear has been brought back out.
The Twins sum it up:
“There is nothing more fun than spending the cool Florida weekends sitting alongside a nicely stoked campfire under the stars and riding trails on an ATV, well, except maybe…shopping.”
Raquel Russell Landry Photo Gallery