Not many models are lucky enough to launch a career directly from their personal Instagram profiles—fewer still also possess a law degree. But Montreal native Coco Baudelle has always been far from the usual.
“When I first got on Instagram, it was mostly to see what my friends were up to. It was a fun and light world and we didn’t really care about how we looked,” she says. For someone who wasn’t trying to look any certain way, she certainly turned the right heads—Glossier founder Emily Weiss stumbled upon her feed and, in short order, Coco was booking modeling gigs for the likes of Chanel, Calvin Klein, and every fashion publication from Vogue to Coveteur.
“Today, Instagram is big and so full of opportunities, but it also comes with some kind of social responsibility when you start having a following,” Coco continues. “In the past couple of years, incredibly outrageous things have happened and I felt that sharing my thoughts would incite others to also take action. I raised money for the ACLU and made phone calls to representatives and marched. We all have an amount of power individually, but it’s exponential and quite magical when everyone comes together.
"We all have an amount of power individually, but it’s exponential and quite magical when everyone comes together."
I try to use social media in the most positive way while being true to myself, but I also use it as a platform to speak up about things I have on my mind.”
That mind is her most valuable possession, the powerful tool that delivered Coco to her expanding success. Believe it or not, her law degree still comes in handy as she navigates not only her modeling career but also her acting and screenwriting projects.
“Law school gave me the confidence to truly take care of myself,” she says thoughtfully. “You study so many different kinds of laws and contracts—how to honor them, how to protect your client. All of these things I apply to myself. It’s a blessing of an armor when you’re a young woman moving to New York City.”
"If taking all the no’s for a yes down the line can be of service to others, I’ll do it. Because I think it makes other people feel seen through me.”
This passion for learning, and a special knack for creatively applying her learnings to her life, shines through everything Coco does. Wary to ever be boxed into one role, job, or identity, she continues to pursue all her various art projects with abandon.
“I was obsessed with science growing up. I remember the day my parents got a fax machine. We put it down on the floor, plugged it in and sent out a fax. We laid down on the floor on both sides of it, staring at the ceiling, and I begged my dad to explain how it worked,” she says with a sense of wonder still apparent on her face. "It was all 0s and 1s, and I didn’t understand it at all, but I found it really fascinating.”
Coco’s appreciation for both sides of the spectrum—the 1s and 0s of life—inform her choice to not only pursue acting but also the creation of the narratives via screenwriting. (She’s been working on writing a feature film for the past year and a half.)
“I find both [acting and screenwriting] really challenging, and I think that’s why I’m drawn to them,” she explains. “As an actor, I like to become my character’s conscience: question them constantly, have a real internal conversation. I don’t want to think about how I’m being perceived or how I look at all. I just want to be a good vessel for the story. Be true and loyal to the story, but also bring some depth and complexity through the characters. As a screenwriter, I want to give the characters an interesting world to live in so that the story can unfold organically. I want to create a world where the actors can let themselves be carried along the current and feel free to swim however they feel.”
She aims to use her social media presence to inspire other women who, like her, don’t necessarily fit into the mold prescribed by society at large.
“I think a lot of people on my social platforms relate to me, whether it’s from a body perspective or background or ethnicity. Working in fashion and beauty is not easy for girls who are 5’3” with a crooked tooth and an ambiguous ethnicity,” she says. “I’m both white and black, and not exactly symmetrical. I don’t really fit in any category in the industry, and people remind me of that all the time—but I think there is a lot of beauty in this unfamiliarity. If taking all the no’s for a yes down the line can be of service to others, I’ll do it. Because I think it makes other people feel seen through me.”
Although she’s historically an East Coast gal, Coco’s free spirit and openness speaks more to an LA sensitivity—as does her massive vintage collection, and her penchant for pairing it back to her favorite denim.
“I think almost any vintage top goes well with denim. I like to pair oddly shaped tops with tight denim. Your body is held differently, I like that feeling,” she describes. “A good old soft cardigan is probably my safe place. I also have a passion for dance bodysuits. When I was a teenager, I remember wanting a pair of J BRAND jeans so badly. It felt like a grown thing to wear. I wanted to feel like a woman.”
"When I was a teenager, I remember wanting a pair of J BRAND jeans so badly. It felt like a grown thing to wear. I wanted to feel like a woman.”