Daring to Dream: Student Follows in Mother’s Footsteps, Pursues Modeling and Acting Career


When Staples students tuned into the 2012 Summer Olympics, many were shocked and excited to see Knox McKay’14 on their TV screens. If a student didn’t know who she was before, they certainly did afterward. McKay starred in an AT&T Olympics commercial as a swimming athlete aspiring to get the same time as the winning Olympic swimmers.

McKay is a budding model and actress. She first got into modeling because of her mother, Stacey, who was an international Ford Model with 15 global agencies for 20 years.

“After hearing all of her own remarkable stories, it became clear to me that with my passion for fashion and travel, modeling was a great way to experience all of those things,” McKay said.

McKay also started acting when she was 10. She performed in many school plays like “Oliver,” “The Wizard of Oz,” “Annie,” “Godspell” and “Beauty and the Beast.”

“I starred in musicals because of my love for the stage and the family you make in the theater,” McKay said.

Now, McKay is signed with four agencies internationally: Wilhelmina Models, Abrams Acting, Marilyn and Chic Management Teen Division. According to her, this has opened up the doors to the commercial industry as well as the fashion show opportunities. Her résumé includes a Macy’s National Swimsuit Commercial, an AT&T Olympics Commercial, a Cryer’s Cross book cover by Simon & Shuster, the Brooks Brothers Catalog, Sherri Hill Fashion Shows and the Sherri Hill Catalogue.

McKay said that the AT&T Olympics commercial was something she will never forget.

“It was so exciting to be a very small part of the 2012 Olympics. Family and friends from all over the nation and the world were calling, emailing and texting us that they saw the commercial,” McKay said. “But the most incredible aspect was being a part of the pre-production of the commercial before it even went to broadcast.”

The huge production of the commercial impressed McKay because Samsung and AT&T wanted to incorporate the winners times into each of the commercials.

“When you see me writing down my goal time to meet or beat the Olympic swimmer’s time, the time on the whiteboard had to match that of the actual winning gold medalist time for that heat, because my commercial ran right after the swimmer won,” McKay said. “So to have that happen, they had me write every possible winning time on the white board. It took two days and 100 people in our crew to do it.”

The commercial was shot at a home in New Jersey, and the street was completely closed. According to McKay, there were four- to 18-wheelers with full-fledged studios in each trailer, large RVs for talent and a trailer with a professional chef’s kitchen where three chefs cooked for the crew all day and served meals under large white wedding tents.

McKay’s schedule is demanding, but according to her boyfriend, Jon Pacilio ’14, she handles it well.

“She really balances a lot between school, volleyball and her job, so I always make sure I’m there to support her,” Pacilio said. “At times, it can be hard to see her, because her schedule is not only busy but also unpredictable. Sometimes, she only gets a couple of hours notice before an audition, but I just have to be flexible. It’s fun and I’m really proud of her for all that she does.”

McKay also does a lot of local work with Staples student and photographer Jack Craymer’14 and videographers Nick Wingate ’14 and Tommy Palumbo ’13.

“It was awesome to work with her,” Craymer said. “She really knew what I wanted her to do and she always makes sure I am top priority. She wakes up at 5 a.m. with me to come on shoots or she cancels plans in order to help me out. Her efforts do not go unnoticed and not to mention, she is a great model. I think I could see her at the top one day.”

McKay is passionate for what she does and offers advice to anyone who wants to pursue the same path: “Do you what you dare to dream.”