What It's Like to Be a Hand Model
Ashly Covington could be the owner of America's most famous hands. She's subbed hers in for those of Charlize Theron and Adriana Lima, and appeared in countless ads for beauty products displaying her manicured, extraordinarily well-formed digits.
"I've had to stick my fingers in model's mouths for countless beauty product shots," Covington, 37, told MailOnline. "Sometimes it's creepy, sometimes it's hilarious."
Covington, who lives in Old Church, Va., frequently flies to New York and Los Angeles (sometimes several times in a week) to take part in photo shoots, where her hands are featured while she keeps the rest of her body out of the frame--frequently via awkward, uncomfortable contortions. It's a job she's been doing for 14 years, and her hard work has won her prominent spots in campaigns for Clinique, Canon, Rolex, and many more.
"I'm always almost wearing gloves and I have to adopt certain habits for everything I do, she told the Mail. "How I open a car door, how I pick up a box, even where my hands swing when I'm walking down the street. I've had accidents with all three of those types of situations that have lost me work in the past!"
Covington, whose grandmother also worked as a hand model in the 1930s (appearing in ads for typewriters), started building a portfolio after graduating from college in Virginia, where she studied theater. She was working as a waitress at the time, but her "hand jobs," as she called them, took her career in a completely new direction. Now, it's not unusual for her to spend the day with a python wrapped around her arm--or sticking it up Andy Samberg's shirt.
Jobs can range anywhere from two to 18 hours, MailOnline reported; one pizza commercial found her and the crew spending the better part of a day perfecting a three-second shot. Sometimes she'll have to hold products for long periods of time without showing signs of strain.
"So in I come, the rest of my body at a bizarre angle so it's hidden out of the way, and then I wait for the crew to call action," said Covington. "Then I smoothly pick up the slice of pizza - again and again - until that cheese stretch is the best cheese stretch in the history of cheese stretches."
Another, for Miller Lite, involved Covington pushing six beer bottles across a table so the labels faced the camera, with her body out of the shot and Covington unable to even see her hands. She got it right in one take.
So aside from hard work, what's her secret? Frequent workouts, for one thing, along with extra-virgin olive oil ("[I] slather it on under my gloves wherever I go") and Pure Harmony soap ("the best soap I have ever found for nourishing my skin and keeping it squeaky clean").
Sounds like a handy thing to have around (sorry, couldn't resist).