Vanessa Cole swears she’s never posed for a magazine fashion photographer, but you wouldn’t know it by the way the Plantation resident is seducing the camera (and enchanting much of the crew) like a seasoned supermodel during an all-day shoot aboard a 164-foot custom yacht.
While the photographer snaps image after striking image of the 27-year-old beauty on the bow of She’s a 10, another set of cameras on the perimeter of the shoot captures the action for E! Network. Cole’s turn as a cover girl for Lifestyle is one of the storylines during a mid-season episode of “WAGS Miami,” the reality spinoff that follows the lives of seven wives and girlfriends of professional athletes.
At one point, as Cole’s designer silk cover-up billows dramatically in the Intracoastal breeze, her marketing manager can no longer contain her enthusiasm.
“This is your photo shoot, Vanessa!” she shouts. “You own this boat!”
In truth, the yacht belongs to Carolyn Plummer, CEO of It’s a 10 hair-care products. But if Cole has her way, she’ll have her own luxury vessel—sooner, rather than later.
“When you’re on the exact same frequency as people whose lives are headed on a higher trajectory, that’s when the magic begins to happen,” she says. “I can see [my future]. It’s so vivid. I can taste it.”
For Cole—the mother of two daughters (Maliha, 6, and Brooklyn, 1) with longtime boyfriend Mike Wallace, the former Miami Dolphins wide receiver who now plays for the Baltimore Ravens—the cattiness and confrontation inherent to a reality show like “WAGS Miami” is a means to an end. She sees the show as the next branding step in a progression that, ultimately, will lead to her own TV program and a broader audience for The Vanessa Network, the online platform she envisions that will offer insights into “business, beauty and bliss.”
The beauty and business elements certainly are in her wheelhouse. Though born in New York, Cole spent her formative years in Dallas and, later, Houston (where her parents and Wallace’s parents currently live). It was there that Cole began turning heads in the real estate world, selling residential properties and representing investors and private equity firms. Her rapid rise at a young age led Cole and a partner to launch their own real-estate investment company, a venture that didn’t last.
“I learned a lot from that experience about trusting my intuition,” Cole says. “There were red flags going on with that company, and I ignored them. There’s nothing wrong with taking a risk, but I was moving too fast and making hasty decisions. I needed to regroup and change lanes.”
It was about that time, in 2013, that Cole moved to Broward County with Wallace, the talented wideout who joined the Dolphins that year after a prolific four-year run with the Pittsburgh Steelers.
The two had first met in Dallas; Wallace, then a senior at Ole Miss, was in town for a game against Texas Tech. “For about three months after that night, he blew up my phone,” Cole says. “He ended up coming back to train at the Michael Johnson Performance Center [outside of Dallas] before the NFL draft. He calls one night and goes, ‘I need to see you! I’ve been blowing up your phone, and you haven’t given me any attention.’
“We went to the movies and to lunch a few times. He finished his training and went back to New Orleans [his hometown]. And I realized that I was missing him. … We’ve been together now for more than eight years.”
The duration of their relationship gives Cole a certain cachet on “WAGS,” especially compared to women less secure about their own situation. In the debut episode, Cole boldly suggests, “I can teach a lot of WAGS how to keep their man; I’m really like their modern-day Jesus.”
It doesn’t mean, however, that she’s above learning something from the show and her fellow cast members.
“The show has opened me up; I’ve been discovering more about who I am,” she says. “For example, in my personal relationship, I don’t communicate as effectively as I do in business. Maybe that’s a reason why Mike and I aren’t married yet. It’s not something I’ve pressured him about it; we don’t even talk about it. I just go with the flow.
“But now that I’ve talked about it on the show, I’m looking at my family life and thinking, ‘Vanessa, what do you want? You know exactly what you want in business. What do you want from your relationship?’ I’m seeing growth in that area.”
Cole admits that Wallace (who doesn’t appear on the show) has been nervous about “WAGS,” even though he fully supports her moment in the spotlight.
“It’s a little tough for Mike to swallow sometimes,” she says. “He’s [used to being] the man, and he has a strong ego. But this is important to me. What happens if we don’t work out? I don’t want to be just another statistic, chasing after him for alimony and child support.
“I want to live my dreams and [at the same time] be in a happy relationship.”
Catch Lifestyle on “WAGS Miami”
The “WAGS Miami” cameras were rolling during our photo shoot with Vanessa Cole—and now, we’re part of the show’s debut season. Visit eonline.com/now/wags-miami for past episodes—including the one with Lifestyle magazine, which was slated to air for the first time on Oct. 30. New episodes air through November, Sunday nights at 10 p.m. on the E! Network. Our thanks to Tracy Powell, segment producer at Machete Productions, and everyone involved with the show for giving us a behind-the-scenes glimpse into the world of reality television.
Art direction: Melanie Geronemus Smit
Assistant photographer: Socrates Morilla
Styling: Lizzy Molina, redlipbandits.com
Makeup: Brenda Francois, Vive La Makeup
Lighting: Splashlight Studio, Miami
Dock location: Bahia Mar Yachting Center, Fort Lauderdale
Special thanks to: Carolyn Plummer and the outstanding staff of She’s a 10; for charter information, visit shesaten.com.