when pamela jean headed for the florida sun, she left her books behind
Those of you with eagle eyes and elephant memories will recognize Pamela Jean Bryant as one of the coeds featured in our September 1977 pictorial Girls of the Big Ten. She almost didn't make it: The story of how Miss April came to our attention demonstrates the old adage that some days you can eat the bear and some days the bear eats you. Relates Pamela: "I have never regarded myself as particularly beautiful. I didn't think anyone else did either. Only a few days before Playboy photographer David Chan showed up on the campus of Indiana University I had applied for a modeling job in a local fashion show and had been turned down. But I refuse to let setbacks get to me, so I responded to the ad David had put in the student newspaper, asking for girls to try out for a Girls of the Big Ten feature. I was surprised when, during our interview, he suggested that I was Playmate material."
Over the next few months, as we became better acquainted with Pamela, we grew to respect her resilience and self-determination. "I've always been an optimist," she says. "I never give in to other people's opinions. I had a rather mixed-up childhood, shuttled from one foster home to another. I had seven mothers and seven fathers, and all of them told me my faults, my guilts, their idea of who I was. I've been told I'm lost and lonely by lost and lonely people. I've stopped listening to others and started listening to myself. I'm proud of the dent I've made in the world to date. I'm glad that I am young and have a career to look forward to. I'm going to strut my stuff and get by on the good times I give myself." At the end of her freshmen year, Pamela decided she could learn more about herself outside school. She packed as many of her belongings as would fit into a station wagon and set out for Florida. ("I had to leave behind my collection of stuffed animals, one from each fostor home.") She found a place to live in Palm Beach and, under the tutelage of a screenwriter friend, has begun piecing together her own life story. "I get up every morning and sit at the typewriter for two hours. I'm reliving my childhood and creating a new person."
The screenwriter connection has opened a new career for Pam. She has hooked small parts in films. "I'm strong-minded but very open. My emotions are very much on the surface. That's why I know I'll make a good actress someday." With that kind of attitude, we know tomorrow is bound to be a day Pam eats the bear.
Photography by Richard Fegley