Former Viking volleyball player pursues entertainment career

Marissa Hill

July 5, 2012

BELLINGHAM, Wash. - In the ultra-competitive entertainment industry, Marissa Hill is drawing upon her experience as a volleyball player at Western Washington University to get her career off to a fast start.

The 25-year-old Hill moved to West Hollywood in February and is currently affiliated with the LA Models agency. One of her first jobs was showcasing the Victoria's Secret lingerie series on E!NEWS, previewing what the stars would be wearing to the Oscar Awards.

"If you talked to someone in my agency, they would tell you that it usually takes a model a year before she is able to start booking anything," said Hill. "But right off the bat, I was booked with three jobs just for runway alone and I've also had a couple gigs with Skechers shoes."

But modeling is just a part of the agenda set out by Hill, who graduated from WWU in the spring of 2009 with a degree in broadcast communications.

"My long-term goal is to establish myself in L.A., but eventually because the markets are so different I want to establish myself in the Miami market and the New York market," said Hill.

"Besides modeling, I'm also pursuing something using my degree by putting together my own pilot show. I'm hoping to host a TV show or web series online, as well as be one of the top models."

Oh, and one more thing Hill may pursue. She is thinking about running for Miss Washington USA next year.

Following graduation from WWU, Hill joined the Seattle Model Guild in 2010. She very quickly got work with Fred Meyer on a monthly basis for photos used inside the store.

"When I was a little girl I did fashion shows in department stores," Hill recalled. "It was always a fun extracurricular activity when I was real young, but as I got older I was more into the sports scene then the fashion scene. I kept that on the back burner, knowing that I would get back into it after getting my college degree. Usually that's the opposite of what people do as modeling can be short-lived, so they often do that and then get their degree."

Hill was a four-year letter winner in volleyball at WWU, being the Vikings' co-captain in 2008 and in 2007 a key contributor on a team that reached the championship match of the NCAA Division II National Tournament. As a senior at Mount Si High School in North Bend, she was the KingCo League MVP.

"My background in athletics has been extremely helpful," Hill said. "Athletics really teaches you to never give up, to always keep trying. (WWU Coach) Diane (Flick) always taught us to strive for perfection, whether it can be reached or not, that still was the highest goal that you were always working toward.

"In modeling that transfers over because it's one of those careers where you're going to hear `no' more then in about any occupation ... It's a competition, you're having with other people. It's not necessarily a sport, but you're putting your talents and skills on the table and you're competing in a different way. You're trying to win the game by booking a shoot, booking an ad or booking a show."

While at WWU, Hill sent in a tape to be a contestant for the TV show "America's Next Top Model." She was one of hundreds selected to be interviewed in San Francisco, and made it to the top level, but was unable to make the three- to four-month commitment because of volleyball.

An entertainment career has many highs and lows, and Hill uses lessons learned in sports to persevere.

"It's very stressful," she said. "It's one of those things where you have some very bad days and really great days, but you've got to know that when you're really down you're going to eventually get back up. Like with hosting, where there's so much competition and it's such a specialized field for what I want to pursue. You've really got to perfect your talent and make it your own and separate yourself from the rest of the crowd."

WWU volleyball coach Diane Flick is not surprised at what Hill is accomplishing, saying "What makes Marissa successful in such a competitive field is that a `no' or a rejection is simply fuel for her fire. It doesn't get her down, it challenges her and Marissa isn't afraid of a challenge. I'm so proud of her. She is successful because she chooses to be. She has goals and nothing is going to keep her from them."

For a model, both exercise and eating healthy foods are important. Hill is involved in yoga and plays some beach volleyball, but her diet differs a little from the norm.

"I like to have a steak or a hamburger on occasion," she laughs. "All the other models hate me because if I were to tell them what my real diet was, they'd be very jealous."

Hill has a hectic schedule and believes her time management skills were developed at WWU.

"When you have such a busy schedule with athletics and you also have to be on top of your studies, you learn those skills," she said.

Despite her time constaints, Hill maintains contact with Coach Flick and her former WWU teammates.

"When I was on the Victoria's Secret thing, Angie (Alvord) even videotaped it and posted it for everyone to see. My teammates have stayed in contact and been supportive of me, and Diane is always staying on top of my latest pictures and endeavors."

While modeling last March, during a break in the activities, Hill was surprised to see the WWU men's basketball team on national TV.

"I was being fitted for a runway show, and I sat down and saw Western playing in the national championship game on TV. That was incredible. I felt so proud. "

Hill's LA Models agency was the first one that supermodel Tyra Banks signed with. While working in Seattle, Hills ran into Banks.

"I met her at a restaurant and she said, `What are you doing here, you need to get down to L.A.'"

Hill did and now is pursuing her dream.

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