The forecast is bright and sunny for former
beauty queen Stormi Henley
lthough she’s a small-town girl, Stormi Henley is not new to the big-city spotlight. In 2009, America got its first look at the all-American beauty when she took the Miss Teen USA crown. Then she appeared on American Idol a couple of years later.
Henley’s guitar was a constant presence at the shoot
RL Magazine had the chance to get to know Henley on location at the Fall 2014 Polo Ralph Lauren for Women campaign shoot in May 2014. Photographer Bruce Weber, who directed and shot the campaign, brought her along as his inspiration, and we now can attest to why he did: As the Tennessee native, who also modeled for the campaign, posed in front of the camera and mingled on set, her low-key charm quickly won over the entire Ralph Lauren team. Plus, her ambition impressed us all. When not modeling, she writes and performs with U.G.L.Y. (the band has signed a contract with Chris Brown’s CBE record label) and has added acting to her list of passions. She may have come from a small Southern town, but Henley is having no problem turning her big-city dreams into reality.
RL Magazine: How did you and Bruce Weber meet? And what’s it like to work with him?
Stormi Henley: I met Bruce on a photo shoot [in 2013]. He loves to play music while we’re shooting and asked where I was from so he could play the music I grew up on and love. He chose Tammy Wynette, me being from Tennessee, and we bonded instantly. Shooting with Bruce is always the most wonderful, laid-back, exciting experience. It really doesn’t feel like you’re working. It’s like you’re playing outside on a beautiful day and someone’s capturing the feeling.
When did you know your band had made it? How do you write your songs?
I really wouldn’t say we have made it because it’s kind of an ongoing project that needs to marinate before it’s shared with everyone. When I write, I usually start with the music on an instrument—piano or guitar. Then I add a mumbled melody and song structure, and then the words last. I particularly like telling a story through the music and adding words to explain it a bit more.
If you had to compare your sound to the sound of any other band—current or past—what band would that be?
Our band’s music is in the same realm as maybe the Weeknd or James Blake, just because it’s pretty mellow and bass-heavy. My own music is really atmospheric and sometimes dark but in a kind of beautiful way.
“I like telling a story through the music and adding words to explain it a bit more.”
Have your family and friends been supportive of your career? What’s it like when you go home for visits?
My family and friends are the most supportive. Everyone in my huge family is my biggest fan. They make me feel like what I’m working on is worth it! I have a million cousins and family members, so when I go home, it’s a crazy-fun time.
Henley (right) and fellow models Lauren Layne and Samantha Gradoville channel the spirit of the Polo woman
Henley and model Chris Brown get close—but only for the cameras
Would you prefer to hit the festival circuit, perform sold-out stadiums or play smaller, more intimate venues?
I love festivals, so I would hit the festival circuit.
On to fashion: What’s hanging in your closet? What is your go-to item of clothing?
My wardrobe is very simple and geared toward showcasing my features. My old, faded denim jacket with a red plaid lining is my go-to item. It doesn’t match anything—therefore it matches everything.
Who are your fashion inspirations?
There isn’t a person in particular that I’m inspired by in the fashion world. I think that’s because I wake up a different person pretty much every day and feel different every day. Sometimes I feel simple and like wearing some jeans, and sometimes I feel badass and like wearing all black leather.
What’s a typical day like for you?
Wake up, have a cookie and a Red Bull, enjoy movie time while I’m putting on my makeup, go hiking, send emails, touch base with one of my managers—acting, modeling, music—work on a song or video, movie time again, sleep!
The Polo Ralph Lauren girl has many facets to her life. Do you feel you can relate to her in any way?
I feel like I can relate to her in every way: grew up in the country, lived in New York City and Los Angeles, love to travel, love to work and create, small-town romantic, big-city dreams. Seems like we would be best friends!
What’s up next for Stormi?
Right now, I’m working on a couple of independent films and auditioning for other films. When there’s time, I’m finishing my music and videos. But mostly, I’m pursuing my acting career and excited about it!
THE TOP 10 MOST-PLAYED SONGS IN
STORMI’S ITUNES LIBRARY
1. “Default,” by Atoms for Peace
2. “Hunter,” by Björk
3. “Backdrifts,” by Radiohead
4. “The Space in Between,” by How to Destroy Angels
5. “Lips to Void,” by Mica Levi
6. “Science/Visions,” by Chvrches
7. “Patience,” by Nas and Damian Marley
8. “Unless,” by Atoms for Peace
9. “Eyes on Fire,” by Blue Foundation
10. “Videotape,” by Radiohead
- All photographs by Bruce Weber; courtesy of Ralph Lauren Corporation