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Casey Merritt Is the New Model to Watch, and It's Not Because of Her Last Name

Young, beautiful, and wise beyond her years, Casey Merritt may very well be your favorite new kid on the block.

by Jamina F. Nitura | Jan 16, 2020

“I grew up with a lot of mantras taught to me by my parents. But maybe [the best one] would be... When you want something, you really have to strive for it.”

Caught in photos with seemingly perpetually smoldering looks, back-bending poses, while decked in clothes worth more than one's average wallet, there’s a common stereotype thrust upon models. Tall, attractive, snobbish...you know the list. Of course, in a time of Instagram stories, and videos like Elle Online’s Waking Up With series, many a model have proven time and again on candid camera that they’re more than just the aloof, sharp-boned ballerina you can catch a glimpse of in magazine spreads. Lean, lithe, and pretty-faced, Casey Merritt turns out to be one of them, and then some.


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Casey Merritt for Preview.ph

Meeting with this 16-year-old Bench Beauty endorser feels like easing into a long-overdue conversation with an estranged friend. Ask her an innocent question about Percy Jackson and she will unapologetically air out her obsession for the books in great detail, as if nothing’s changed between the 10 years of your metaphorically not seeing each other. Except now you can find her face plastered all over mall stores, while you’re sneaking snacks into your 9-5 desk job. As I’ve learned within the first two hours of meeting her, it seems approaching everything with the gusto of a child is just Casey’s natural order of things. Nevermind her literal youth, she’ll gladly get along with anyone. Even her mother agrees. “How you see her is exactly how she was when she was a kid. She’s always been bubbly from the beginning,” she proudly tells me while her daughter’s off posing for the camera, and jumping around having to avoid giant bubbles floating in front of her, in a tiny studio. “I remember when she was in nursery, she was the first kid to roam around the class just so she could start chatting with everyone.”

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Of course, her unbridled enthusiasm isn’t the first thing one would think of upon hearing her name, or seeing her Instagram handle (@caseymerritttt). The truth of the matter is, signs will always somehow point back to her half-sister, Victoria’s Secret model Kelsey Merritt. This fact is, without a doubt, all well and good for Casey who openly talks about her sister admirably. But take away the familiar moniker and the possible set of industry connections attached to it, and what do we have of this smiley-faced 11th grader? As it turns out, I could write you a laundry list.


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Born and based in Pampanga, Cassandra Alethea Merritt—everyone calls her Casey—is Filipino-American. She likes drawing, sewing clothes, math (yes, math), and Greek mythology. She’s a bookworm; she dreams of becoming a doctor one day; she thinks it would be better for the environment if everyone learned how to commute (she sat on a two-hour bus ride with her mom to get to this shoot); and she loves thrift shopping for clothes. Which, don’t even get her started on the last one, lest you want her to talk your ear off about the dos and don’ts of prepping for the ukay-ukay. Heck, she might even start teaching you how to fold a measly plastic bag into a reusable compact triangle. Because yes, she did show us how to do it, after we asked. And yes, we did start crowding the table one-by-one like school children, fully engrossed in a plastic bag folding demo.

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The truth of the matter is, signs will always somehow point back to her half-sister, Victoria’s Secret model Kelsey Merritt. This fact is, without a doubt, all well and good for Casey who openly talks about her sister admirably.

Beneath this bundle of get-up-and-go is a focused science high school student with a knack for public speaking and genuinely doing good. Whenever asked a serious question unrelated to ukay or mythological novels, Casey pauses for a careful thought, sometimes looks back to her mom for reassurance as all 16-year-olds do, before replying with a humbled answer that’s slightly muddled only by her nervous energy. Young as she is, it’s after one of these slight pauses, when I ask for her current ultimate goal in life, am I made to realize that she may as well be an old soul who’s cracked a code most kids her age spend half their lives learning. “It used to be to become a doctor and achieve everything that I want,” Casey starts. “But now it’s just really to be satisfied and contented with what I can achieve. I just want to grow old and look back and be satisfied with what I’ve done.” Perhaps I shed a tear at that, who’s to say?

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After our interview, we go straight to work, leaving her to do what she does best in front of the camera. For Casey, every resounding click warrants a new pose. She never loses her drive, never stops moving, unless she’s told to hold her stance, of course. It’s clear she’s studied this, practiced enough times with her friends to know how to angle her body or fold her limbs in the right way. But there’s also still a lot of learning to be had here, and she knows it—and she is wondrously open to it, even. Whether it’s in modeling, studying biology, or saving the environment, this young Gen-Z shows she’s never too good enough to learn more.

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For Casey, every resounding click warrants a new pose. She never loses her drive, never stops moving...

As the day winds down later than we expected and Casey’s still jumping by the balls of her feet, I wonder out loud, “How are you still going?” She only shrugs, grinning as if with gratitude, while somebody else chimes in. “She’s young. She still has a lot of energy.” And boy, we can’t wait to see where this endless reserve of unfettered vigor takes her.

Below, we get to know the teenager beyond the last name as Casey talks to us about how she got into modeling, what her pet peeves are, why she's taking steps towards a sustainable lifestyle, and more!

Tell us a bit about yourself.

“My real name is Cassandra Merritt. People call me Casey instead. I’m 16 years old. I like drawing, making and sewing clothes, I like sketching floor plans too. I like math. I used to be a bookworm but now I don’t have much time for it. And I plan on becoming a doctor one day, maybe as a pediatrician because I love kids.”

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What’s your favorite book?

"To Kill a Mockingbird."

What’s your favorite subject in school?

"Probably Biology or General Science."

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Do you have any pet peeves?

“I like doing things very fast. So when I’m out in public and someone’s walking in front of me very slow, or I see someone doing their job very slow, I get easily annoyed.”


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What’s something you do to cope when you get nervous?

“If I’m with people, since you can’t see it, I wiggle my toes. But when I’m in the bathroom and people can’t see me, I just jump around, shake my hands, and internally scream.”

Do you have one mantra or philosophy that you live by?

“I grew up with a lot of mantras taught to me by my parents. But maybe [the best one] would be... When you want something, you really have to strive for it.”

What are the three important things about you that you would want everyone else to know?

“First of all, they should know that I’m very quirky. I think most people see me as very maldita. They always say that I look like one, but when you actually get to know me ,I’d like to think I’m very fun to hang around with. Second, I think I get along with people regardless of age and regardless of who the person is. Lastly, I’m a hard worker. I’m a go-getter. I’m very goal-driven.”

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Speaking of goals, what’s your current ultimate goal in life?

“It used to be to become a doctor and achieve everything that I want. But now it’s just really to be satisfied and contented with what I can achieve. I just want to grow old and look back and be satisfied with what I’ve done.”

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"I actually enjoyed modeling so I didn’t have a reason to stop. It also helps me save up for future stuff [like college]"

How did you get into modeling?

“Actually, it was very out of the blue. Everybody kept on telling me to try it out. One time, I invited a friend of mine to do a fun shoot and that’s where it all started because there are freelance photographers that would message me to do collaborations, then it started building up. After that, I just kept meeting new people and that’s where I made connections. I actually enjoyed modeling so I didn’t have a reason to stop. It also helps me save up for future stuff [like college]”

Who are the models you draw inspiration from?

“I love Coco Rocha and how she works. As for my favorite models, I like Bella Hadid’s fashion sense and her style. Honestly, I get inspiration from different people. I just don’t focus on one specific person. When I like an outfit or a specific style I just take inspiration from it.”

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What was your family’s first reaction when they found out that you wanted to get into modeling?

“I didn’t really have to tell them. I’d get into fun shoots and they’d know everything that was happening to me. They’re very supportive and they let me do everything that they think would do me good. “

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What did you spend your first paycheck on?

“My first-ever paycheck from modeling, I kept in the bank. I wanted to save up for college. I’ve also spent for Christmas gifts for my family and friends.”


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Do you see yourself doing this in the long run?

“Probably, yes. Of course, I’d like to keep my studies as my number one priority, so whenever I can slide in a couple of jobs, I’d gladly do the work.”

"I think in this industry it’s not only about work. A big part of it is the attitude, and your personality, and how you treat people."

What's your advice to kids your age who want to get into modeling as well?

“I guess that first of all you just have to be yourself. I think in this industry it’s not only about work. A big part of it is the attitude, and your personality, and how you treat people. But on the other hand, you also have to work very very hard because the modeling industry isn’t the easiest place to work in. You have to take care of yourself and make sure that you look and stay healthy.”


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Do you have any advocacies that you feel strongly about?

“I’m such an advocate for the environment. With all that’s been happening, people tend to see it as a minor problem that they can sometimes take for granted. One of the biggest problems we’re facing today are big companies producing large amounts of waste. As an individual, it may be difficult to find a solution on your own, but it’s not hard to start contributing through taking small steps.

"[For my part] I tend to not accept plastic bags whenever I buy stuff and I bring extra tote bags or eco bags so I can store things easily and for the better. And it’s also nice to you know whenever you see trash around, you can just pick it up. Also, whenever you can, it’s always better to commute rather than to use your own car because it generally lessens air pollution.

"I also support sustainable fashion. I’m a big ukay fan. I love that you can get quality items at very low prices. You also get to repurpose textile waste and, in turn, the overall waste of the world. Plus, the pieces you can find are all very unique, which you don’t really get to find in all the trendy items sold in the malls.”

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How often to do you go thrift shopping? Any ukay-ukay tips for newbies?

“I actually go by myself because I tend to spend so much time in the thrift store and I don’t like bothering anyone to wait for me. I scour through every piece because when you want something good you have to work hard for it.

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"[As for tips] the first thing that I really remind myself is whenever I go to the ukay I have to bring a fan or towel or ponytails. Dress comfortably because it’s really a physical activity and you have to be comfortable with what you’re wearing. Definitely bring less baggage. When choosing the item, it’s not always about how it fits you because you can always do a little stitching to everything and eventually make it look better later on. It’s also important to look at how you can use the garment and how you can incorporate it into your wardrobe. Personally, I altering like the pieces I buy in the ukay. I tend to look at the potential instead of what just fits me.”

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You mentioned you’re only 16, which makes your part of Generation Z. What misconceptions about today’s youth have you seen and would like to prove wrong?

“I guess from what I see so far is that I find it admirable that the youth cares so much about more important issues now with regard to all of the problems happening in our society, in our environment, in the country’s beliefs, and with the government as well. We’re still young and I know we can make mistakes but at least we’re not turning a blind eye to what’s happening. The older generation might take it the wrong way and see us as being pakielamera and that we should mind our own business. But I think it’s nice that the kids today care about what’s happening because it’s our future on the line too.”


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Produced by Marj Ramos

Photographed by Borgy Angeles

Art Direction by Bacs Arcebal

Co-produced by Nicole Cruz

Written by Jam Nitura

Fashion Direction and Styling by Yanna Lopez

Beauty Direction by Nicole Arcano

Makeup by Sylvina Lopez

Hair by Mark Familara

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