By: Jacie Scott
Kashara remembers being a Dallas Cowboys Cheerleader hopeful sitting in the dance studio at Valley Ranch, watching bright-eyed as director Kelli Finglass revealed the cover of the 2015 swimsuit edition of Dallas Cowboys Star Magazine. She saw the veterans gush over their new cover girl, Danielle, their glamorous photos, and her mind wandered.
The Kentucky native imagined all the beautiful views the girls must see, and the opportunities to channel their inner Victoria's Secret model with reputable photographers. Not to mention, frolicking on the beaches of Mexico with a few best friends. She had envisioned quite the vacation.
Now a second-year veteran with one calendar shoot under her belt, Kashara compared her mental notes from just a year ago. She will tell you without hesitation that she had no idea what she was talking about. Seventeen-hour shoot days, appearances, performances. There was little to no time to play on the beach with her DCC sisters.
But, she was right about one thing: the views.
"The cool thing is you get to see different parts of Mexico and experience the culture," she said. "Never in my life did I imagine that I'd be on a private beach viewing beautiful landscape. We even saw whales one day."
While her surroundings were breathtaking, she quickly learned that the process of getting the perfect shot might take her breath away. Literally.
There were days when a white van served as their hair and makeup room, dressing room, and waiting room. Kashara joked about the challenges the girls faced with the limited space. Then, there was the fact that their makeup would melt from their face before even getting in front of a camera, thanks to the sweltering heat.
One of her favorite shots, for example, comes from "the rock" shoot, as she calls it. Shot by new photographer Simon Lopez, the image shows Kashara lounging on a rock in a black swimsuit. Her face is fixed in a striking gaze, and the water reflects her pose. But when Kelli revealed the photo in the magazine, all Kashara could think about was almost falling into the water while getting this shot, clinching her entire body to stay balanced on the rock.
"It's seeing the final product and the stories that go behind it that make it so special for us," she said. "Like there's one shot of Jinelle. She looks flawless lying on her stomach, but in reality the sun was going down, and Jeremy was yelling for her to get the shot. She runs, slides into home plate and takes the perfect picture and we're just cheering her on."
That was the part of the swimsuit edition reveal that Kashara didn't quite understand last year as a training camp candidate. There's the glam, yes, but it's also the bloopers, if you will.
And, of course, the experiences with the photographers. Jeremy Shelby, a veteran calendar shoot photographer, just wrapped his sixth year with the ladies, bringing high energy and a creative edge to his shoots. Lopez was new to the group this year, but brought a new flair to the photos, as seen in the rock shoot.
Kashara admitted she didn't realize just how much goes into the final product, the magazine and the calendars, and she has great appreciation for what Shelby and Lopez do. Both photographers have the ability to see beauty in what the common eye cannot.
"We're not models. Never in my life do I think I should be on a runway or in a fashion magazine," Kashara said. "But then you see what Jeremy, Simon and their crews can create, and you're just like, there's no way that could be me. It's like an out of body experience."
*Get the eighth annual Dallas Cowboys Star Magazine, featuring more than 80 photos of the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders in beautiful Mexico, at *http://bit.ly/1isc6c2.
Check out some of our favorite shots from the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleader Swimsuit Calendar shoot in Mexico.