Cover Feature

Ciara Miller: From The Runway To The Frontlines

Photo courtesy of Madison White

Audiences recognize Ciara Miller from the Bravo reality series “Summer House” and “Winter House.” When Miller isn’t featured on the mansion-ridden, romance-filled reality shows, she models on runways and is partnered with major fashion, lifestyle, beauty and wellness brands such as Charlotte Tilbury Smirnoff, Baffin, HUM Nutrition and OGX Beauty. Beauty hauls, special podcast appearances and glamorous New York photoshoots are part of Miller’s daily grind.

But all the glitz and glam that surrounds this model and actress doesn’t showcase the side of Ciara Miller that the public doesn’t get to see. Off the runway, Miller is an ICU nurse, and has balanced two successful careers in two separate, extreme environments during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond.

Fashion Mannuscript got the inside scoop on Miller’s life-saving double life.

What came first, fashion & TV or being an ICU nurse?
If I had to list it chronologically, I believe it would be fashion. I started modeling when I was 16 years old, but a college education was mandatory in my parents’ household. I modeled throughout nursing school, but it took a back seat to my studies so then nursing became my main priority. Then, my TV career became front and center. Fashion, modeling, TV and nursing all have an equal level of importance in my life. Each sector is so different, bringing out various sides of me in different moments.

How did you get your start in fashion & TV? What drove you to this world?
When I first started modeling around 15/16 years old, it really started as a way for my mother to keep me busy and distracted. I enjoyed it enough to not fight with her on the subject. There were various things about my extracurricular activities that we did not agree on, but mothers know best. Turns out, she was wildly right. The feedback along my early modeling career seemed positive enough to keep going, and after a while I knew in the back of my mind that this was what I wanted to do. My opportunity for TV seemed to present itself in the middle of a dark time: the pandemic. I was in the middle of my modeling contract when I got the call, not knowing which direction to go. I decided to look at it like a light, so I quite literally closed my eyes and followed the light. I had no idea what to expect, and I don’t believe anyone can properly prime you for the TV world.

What kind of partnerships do you have with brands like Charlotte Tilbury & Alohas. What is the creative process like?
A lot of trial and error. Like a lot. I am also a perfectionist to a downfall. Sometimes I overthink a lot of things, but really, I just want it to be the best. Charlotte Tilbury is one of my favorite brands to work with, and I truly love the company throughout. Whenever I’m creating, I want people to love the product as much as I do, or at least be intrigued enough to try it out. It’s really fun though, I feel like I’m expanding my brain power with new ideas and trying to think of new ways to showcase a product.

What drove you to wanting to work both in medicine and fashion?
Originally, I wanted to be a doctor, but then as I dragged myself to school every morning, I just thought there’s no way I want to be in school into my 30’s. But I loved the hospital, and I loved medicine. My mom is a nurse, so I knew that was an option, but I didn’t want to “copy” her. I always had this “doing it my way, making my own path” type of attitude, and I wanted no overlap with anyone in my immediate family. Obviously, I got over that. I modeled through nursing school; it was a great side income since I couldn’t work a full-time job in nursing school. Then I graduated and continued to work in the hospital and as a model. I’ve always done both, I never thought I had to choose just one. There are moments when one takes the front burner versus the other, but I’ve never thought to just limit myself to one.

These two are very different, intense careers. How do you balance the two?
I love the contrast between the two careers. I feel like it gives me great balance in my life. TV and fashion tends to be very self-indulgent and self-centered, leaving room for creativity and the ability to make your own rules. Nursing is regimented, selfless, creative within a certain constraint, structured, often life or death. When I have too much of one, I find myself seeking the other. I love being of service to another person, a stranger or a neighbor if you will. I find great purpose in being a part of a collaborating team with a common goal aiding in someone’s care. It is such a unique feeling.

And I love making my own creative rules, experimenting, and trying new things in the world of fashion and TV. This industry has taught me a lot about myself, allowed me to really reflect on inner work, and has challenged me to be more open and freer. I think I have the best of both worlds.

How did you balance the two during the pandemic when you worked on the front lines?
I was just starting my TV career during the start of the pandemic, so I had to completely withdraw from my nursing life during the filming process. When I went back to the hospital and “Summer House” began to air, I could still fly under the radar. I didn’t (and still don’t) talk much about my TV life in the hospital; I don’t want it to serve as a distraction. The focus is patient care, not what episode is airing Monday at 9 p.m. I decided to try my luck with TV during the pandemic because it seemed like crazy timing. The years of the pandemic were months of uncertainty, and a lot of stress, especially from inside the hospital. I made the decision to go into TV because I needed to pause nursing and try the TV world because I felt like it was something I needed to do for myself, despite everything going on. It wasn’t easy though. I definitely had a lot of guilt leaving the hospital setting. To be honest, I was exhausted so it was nice to take a break, but I felt an obligation to my team (nurses everywhere) and the unit. Most units were short on nurses, per usual, but it was more intense this time. Patient workload had tripled (if not more), and acuity was intensely high, so leaving at that moment was not easy. Some could say it was a selfish decision, but hospital politics also played a huge role in my departure, which most people don’t understand unless you have worked in the hospital setting. But just imagine everything intensified during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Do you plan on returning to nursing?

I’ve never officially quit nursing. Nursing is the type of career you can pause, especially with travel nursing. After I filmed my first season with “Summer House,” I went home to Atlanta and continued nursing. Filming isn’t every single day; it’s in spurts. Sometimes we film for three months and sometimes we film for two weeks. Nursing has given me the flexibility to do both. Since I am a travel nurse, I would just pick up six- to eight-week contracts between filming dates. I stopped working full-time after my second season on “Summer House.” Fortunately, there are so many different opportunities that come with the show, and I want to be able to say I tried everything, so I’m giving myself room to do just that. I will always keep my credentials up to date, and my certifications current. And when, or if, I am ready, I can go back to nursing full-time whenever I want.

What was it like starring on Bravo TV Shows?

My favorite part about the show is the friendships that I’ve formed. When I moved to New York, I really only knew two people, and the shows allowed me to meet more people. I really do love spending time with all these crazies in one house, gossiping in the bed at night, sharing beds, dressing up and just laughing nonstop with people. I never got the chance to go away for college and live on campus, so I like to think this is my college experience since I lived at home. I met some of my best friends, it’s been great even through all the ups and downs, laughter and tears.

What inspires your creative process for collaborating with brands on collections?
It definitely depends on the product, but naturally, I’m very drawn to fashion-forward advertising. I love 90’s fashion campaigns, from Versace and Dior to Levi’s and Calvin Klein. I love 90’s models too, so I feel like many of my creative thoughts originate from that era. Sometimes time doesn’t always permit. But I also love just natural-looking, real-life creative collaborations. Nothing too pose-y. I love to collaborate with a brand that just showcases how I incorporate the product into my life. It depends on the message with how creative I can get.

Anything planned for the future you want to share? In medicine and/or fashion?
I am always up to new things. My plan for 2023 is to jumpstart a few ideas I’ve had for the past few years. Hopefully, I can finally bring them to fruition.