This past weekend, I was invited to attend an event hosted by Kaback Model Management, Colby Models and Beauty 101 in a joint effort to find fresh new faces. People flocked from all over the region to attend this FREE workshop. Makeup and hair were on the house as well as professional photos done by a world renown fashion photographer. You see, you don’t have to live in New York to get discovered!
As soon as I arrived, I was swept up into the whirlwind of the modeling world. There were men, women and children lining the halls waiting to be beautified, photographed and discovered. The sound of blow dryers and the shaking of hair spay cans permeated the air. The atmosphere was exhilarating to say the least. Similar to what you would see at fashion week.
There I was thrown into the scene and who did I stumble on but Anchal Joseph from the 7th Season of America’s Next Top Model. Talk about brains and beauty. Anchal had the girl next door personality with looks that could kill. As we positioned ourselves to take a photo, I realized just how short I was at a meager height of 5’5. I literally had to prop myself up on my tee-pee toes just to get close to her in altitude.
Everything was happening so quickly. I soon met the owner of Beauty 101, Julie, to whom I will dedicate an entire post. She is one of a kind and a true master of all things makeup. Julie promptly introduced me to Duc Nguyen, the fashion photographer who was responsible for taking the photos of the aspiring models throughout the afternoon. Of course, the writer in me began to pry.
Within minutes I found out Duc’s compelling life story. Raised in France, he moved to Texas. After attending graduate school and landing what seemed like the dream corporate job, he realized that he was miserable. He wore himself completely out so he quit and took up photography. After only 4 years his new job has taken him all over the world and at the moment brought him to Philadelphia to chat with me. Talk about an inspirational story.
So, what was I doing at this event and what was I hoping to get out of it? I wanted to shed light on the very real world of modeling, dispel myths and help people navigate through this industry. For example who is a modeling candidate? Who do you turn to if this is your calling? Many people reading this may be interested in background work or modeling, some have kids who are aspiring little models or actors.
I sat down with Ryan Colby to help me get to the bottom of this. Ryan Colby was a former model and art director at Vogue who now runs his own Modeling Agency in NYC. I met with two of his male models, as well (left, Jordan Colbourn and Joey Cifelli) to get some insightful information about the business.
A: “Absolutely, you need to see a professional to find out whether you have the ‘it’ factor because you can’t judge it on your own. Your mom, your dad and you boyfriend are all going to tell you that you’re pretty, which very well may be; there are plenty of girls that have the ‘girlfriend factor.’ They look great as girlfriends but they are not models. What men may consider ‘hot’ is also not a litmus test for whether a girl can be a model. Modeling has less to do with the aesthetics of Americana…and more to do with longevity, being photogenic, sizes, and the mental ability to survive the grind; Paris, Milan, London, New York… Japan. Most girls can’t do that.”
Q: So there is a mental component that is equally as important as the physical attributes?
A: “There’s a fine line between who makes it and who doesn’t. There are plenty of pretty girls that if their brain was different, they could model. But especially with American girls it’s hard because our society instills a different work ethic so they vastly differ from European girls. Some girl from Czechoslovakia who’s 14 or 15 years old will do A, B, and C to model. She will follow instructions. But American girls are obsessed with their phones and TV. They are less likely to follow the rules. That’s why when you look on websites, you can’t pronounce most of these girls’ names.”
A: “It is true, it is genetic to a degree. The gene pool in Eastern Europe is different, they are taller. They also have less fast food, but the main reason why many of them become models is societal.”
Q: Who discovers those women? Do they come here or do scouts go abroad?
A: “Scouts go abroad to small towns of like 5oo people. Some of these girls literally get discovered while working on a farm. If you are 5’11 and you’re 15, let’s go back to New York.”
Q: So do you only work with younger, taller women?
A: “No, we have a commercial division, as well. Especially the Philly office. They have way more commercial girls. Primarily because it is a small city. So any commercial print jobs for like a bank or TV work they would do. Some of the high fashion girls don’t qualify because they are too intimidating looking. You can’t use a girl holding a credit card who’s like 17 and sickly looking because you are going to scare clients away. Relatability is most important in commercial work.”
I have many more questions and answers from Ryan, but I wanted to leave some suspense for the show that he and Alycia Kaback are working on which is called the Model Diaries. Part of my day spent at this event was taped for the show. Currently episodes are available online. If you have any questions for Ryan or Alycia, please let me know or reach out to them. I hope that anyone contemplating getting into this business, now has a little more clarity on what it takes. Until next week. Happy picture snapping ladies and gents!