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Conversations with Sera McCandless

Today we’d like to introduce you to Sera McCandless.

Alright, so thank you so much for sharing your story and insight with our readers. To kick things off, can you tell us a bit about how you got started?
I’ll try to make this as short as I can! I was born (and raised) in Jerusalem to an American father and a South African mother. When I was three, my parents split up and my dad came back to the states. When I was about 11 years old, I was finally got to an age I can travel and see him, and that’s when I started traveling back and forth each summer to the US. I have 6 siblings, 3 from my mom’s side (who I grew up with) and 3 from my dad’s side.

I remember coming to the States, at the time, thinking how everything was so much bigger, and cooler from what I was used to. It was always the most amazing experience to get to know my “American side” better, and I kinda knew I would end up here.

I finished high school in 2013 in Jerusalem, and a few months later, I chose to move to NYC for the first time. I was 19 years old, and I remember I was in total shock. I thought I knew how to speak English fluently, and wasn’t aware I had an accent, and quickly realized my English wasn’t as great as I thought it was, and my accent wasn’t as American as I imagined it being.

I was also shocked I was over 18 but couldn’t go out to clubs or bars, because I forgot that in the US you gotta be 21 for those things, so really, looking back I was probably too young for the city of New York. I came with no plan, just knew I was gonna stay at my big brother’s (from my mom’s side) who was living there at the time and trying to figure it out in NYC himself. I found a job as a Hostess in a restaurant, and besides having the time of my life I didn’t really make enough money to sustain myself in a city like NYC, so I went back home to Jerusalem,
I went back to manage my mother’s Hardware and home design store, modeling and doing other projects in between (I was always very active) Until later, I decided to try living in Atlanta for a little bit, where my father lived, but quickly again I couldn’t make enough money to sustain my life, so I came back home.

In 2017, I traveled to Thailand with two of my best girlfriends, fell in love with a Thai man, who was this amazing pirate looking fire artist, and was convinced to move to Thailand full time, for love. I do tend to fall in love a lot, and defiantly take big risks in my life. Once again, with no plan, I booked a one way ticket to Thailand and decided to figure it out. It was probably the number one experience of my life. I am trying to keep my story short which is super hard but after living in Thailand for about 6-7 months (PS Thai love story was quickly irrelevant but I did fall in love at least twice more while I was there), I moved to NYC, Portland Maine, and finally life leads me to DC. (You guessed right, love drew me here).

I planned to work as a Hebrew teacher and kinda do my own thing, and wanted it to be a long term thing because I knew I tended to move around a lot, so I told myself I’d stick around for at least a year because so many great things happened to me in short periods of times in the other places I lived in, so I wanted to see what would happen if I stayed in one place for a long time, because at that point new beginnings were my comfort zone.

I moved here (DC) in January of 2019, and on February, I lost a dear person to me who raised me like a father to a heart attack. I found it extremely hard to function- and I’m currently still healing- but it was hard to continue in this journey I was in, and teaching kids was heard on my soul after the loss, but I heard his voice telling me to stay and keep going, so I chose to stay, but had to switch a profession to something a lot “lighter”, so I was in the restaurant industry until the pandemic hit again and shut my restaurant down. Luckily, right before the pandemic, I met my current fiance, and I guess if it wasn’t for him, I would go back home again, but we survived the pandemic together, and got engaged in December 2021.

At this point, I’ve been here for quite some time now, and made a lot of meaningful connections. I’ve been modeling and doing my thing, and recently got accepted to American Airlines as a Flight Attendant, which is the perfect job for a wanderer as myself. I can’t wait.

Can you talk to us a bit about the challenges and lessons you’ve learned along the way. Looking back would you say it’s been easy or smooth in retrospect?
Oof, I guess I wrote a lot of those in the previous section, but I can defiantly elaborate.

Losing Zion, who had literally raised me as a father, and feeling what death is from such a close perspective has been life changing, and not in a good way.

Since the death, I was diagnosed with Depression and PTSD, and it wasn’t as easy for me to “stay strong” as it was before. I think also my family dynamics make it hard on me, one of the reasons is I keep looking back at my inner child who came here each summer to see her father and family in the US, and looking at my reasoning to moving here, which was to be closer to my family (I have a lot more family in the states than anywhere else) but in reality, we all know how big the US is, and how hard it is sometimes to see family, and let’s say Little Sera imagined having family close by, and close support which isn’t the case.

In reality, I don’t see my family that much, and I miss my people from back home like crazy each day. A lot of times I feel like an outsider, and I question the decision of moving here and starting a life, but I guess regret never helped anyone, and I do trust I’m on the right path, somehow, especially now with the new job coming up which would ideally allow me to travel anywhere and see anyone I want to.

And as I mentioned before, the pandemic was a little much but also helped me develop a relationship with Juan who is now my fiancé. Since he is a teacher, and I was a bartender at the time, it’s hard for me to believe we would’ve made it this far in the relationship. Anytime I was off, he was working and vice-versa. So the pandemic sure helped us in that department!

As you know, we’re big fans of you and your work. For our readers who might not be as familiar what can you tell them about what you do?
I wear a lot of different creative hats, that’s for sure.

Most people know me as a model, I’ve been modeling since I was 11 years old, and took part in a lot of photoshoots, which later made me into an art director and stylist for shoots, I help executing photoshoots for others, and help express the brands’ identities. As for modeling, I take part in many styles such as editorial, glam, and couple shoots with my partner in crime- Juan.

Other than that, I write music, and perform very rarely, and hoping to get into it more, additionally, I am an event planner (such as pop-up events, markets, music shows, etc).

At the end of the day, you’ll find me thrive behind the scenes as well as in front.

I have years of experience traveling the world, modeling and learning how these things work on the inside, working different roles in hospitality, and I always had an eye for aesthetics, since I worked in my mom’s home styling store starting at a very young age. I do well in many different new set-ups and am very confident in what I do.

The cool part is, I just happened to do all these things very organically, as much as I post on IG and stuff, I never promoted myself too much, which tells me that people do gravitate towards me, my style and work and I love that.

In the near future, I am planning to develop my own YouTube Channel which was always my dream, where I’ll capture all my daily events including trying to make it as a flight attendant. Stay Tuned!

Do you have any memories from childhood that you can share with us?
I think probably the day my best friend Daniel (who is literally like my brother till this day and the son of Zion, who passed three years ago), blurred that they all bought plane tickets to Turkey for my birthday with my mom and his parents (Sandi and Zion). We were something like 8 years old and I can remember the day he told me that (it was obviously supposed to be a surprise) but Daniel wasn’t the best at keeping secrets. I don’t have the best memory but I can remember exactly where we were when he told me that, and I remember how happy that made me.

Pricing:

  • Modeling: $120 for 2 hrs, 170$ for 3 hrs, 220$ for 4
  • Couple Modeling – $250 per session (2 hours)
  • Pop Up Event planning- Message for details
  • Art director: $30 an hour

Contact Info:


Image Credits
Andrea Salazar (@AndreaSalazarPhotography)
Brook Long (@MadeYouBrookPhoto)
Donovan Gerald (@DonnieGerald)
Kate Warren (@GoKateShoot)

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