"How did I start? I guess it was to appease my mother who had modelling aspirations herself - which ended with her pregnancy at age 16. I think she saw her second chance into the industry with me. She brought me to the agencies in our city, got involved in a modelling contest and after losing money and patience we both set the dream aside. It wasn't until I was 20 and in post-secondary, when someone randomly asked me to pose in a calendar to earn extra money for school, that I really got the extra confidence and drive to follow through. Calendars turned to magazine submissions, which turned into having photos to build a portfolio. All I needed after that was to earn enough money to travel to the real places that mattered to me: Toronto, Los Angeles, and although I didn't know it at the time, Mexico City would take its hold on me.
I've heard it all from countless agencies. You are too short. You are too commercial. You are not commercial enough. You are too high fashion for this market (which I assure you I am not!). You are too big. You are too blond. Unlike Tyra Banks, who claims to have struggled before making it into this field, I actually HAVE! Each agency rejection fueled my stubbornness to prove them wrong. So inadvertently the industry was giving me much thicker skin and creating a stronger woman. You learn quickly how to say 'NO'. NO to pushy photographers trying to manipulate a situation. NO to agencies suggesting unhealthy habits. NO to friends who influence you poorly. And if you don't stand your ground you lose a piece of yourself. In my eyes, I was a shy pushover before modelling - and now I think I walk that fine line of having enough attitude where people won't try to push your limits while also staying completely professional.
My first taste of a big city was Toronto. It was there where I found out I actually was agency material. Three agencies showed interest in signing me and I selected the smallest one thinking I would get a bigger push - which still makes sense to me - and although I’ve changed agencies since then, my first agency represented me in my first placement in Mexico City. I fell in love with the culture, the friendly people, the ease of the city, and the feeling of being independent. I could pick my castings, I could arrange my day, I could say no to jobs even after being hired and to me, THAT was freedom. Nothing like any 9-5 job I had before, AND I HAVE HAD A LOT OF THOSE! I have heard horror stories of models hopping into taxis and never returning. However, my own personal experience of doing everything myself made me feel a little safer. I was so pleased with the first placement I ended up going multiple times. When I needed a change of scene, I did everything I could to get legal work in Los Angeles by contacting all the agencies myself. After LA, I traveled to Istanbul which is by far the worst experience to date. If you want to really appreciate equality, spend a few days as a woman over there. Each country sheds light on how good I really have it back at home. If ONLY the industry was the same in the prairies of Canada."
TO BE CONTINUED...
Feature by Keran Look Loy
Nathan Lewis Photography
Photo: Blvck Ring Analog
"if you don't stand your ground,you lose a piece of yourself.."