Hey my dear readers I am exhausted today, however, not too exhausted to get this blog out of my system. I have never given this issue much thought, but today I was in such a quandary that I had to address it.
Most times when I write a blog, I don’t necessarily mean to disrespect anyone and sometimes I may come across a but rough around the edges, but my intentions are always good. Especially when it comes to models of color.
It is a very racist business and though no one will ever come OUT and say it, it is always there. We have a handful of top models of color, and for every black model out there (actually making a living in this business), there are thousands of other models waiting to take your place. So you don’t have the luxury of a bad day. Ever. When working out in the industry, they only need one model of color to meet the EEOC requirements, so knowing that the odds are already stacked against you, why would you do anything to jeopardize that?
I just recently booked an international campaign and I was lucky enough to be brought into the decision making process of securing the models for this job. I like when I am allowed to put my input into such situations, because it allows me to actually select someone that I may actually want to shoot, so that is very exciting.
The first process was the acquisition of model comp cards and we received literally thousands of model hopefuls for this job, which we will take approximately six to seven models. We’ve received images from all around the world as far as Australia. The turn out was staggering. I think I’ve seen every model’s photo in the free world and it was a fascinating process.
Today was a little different, which prompted this blog. We broke down the casting to regions and at that point arranged go sees with our selections. They were coming in at a good clip. We saw walks, portfolios and took digital polaroids. It was a long and grueling day. At one point a young man entered the room.
He looked familiar (but then by this point, they all began to look familiar). He was, for lack of a better word subpar. Body was a little soft, skin not that great. So much so, I actually wanted to know how he got this far into the auditions. He presented his book and then the light bulb went off. His book was amazing. In his book, his LOOKS were amazing but the problem was, the person in front of me was not the person presented in the book. He was approximately 15-20lbs heavier in person, softer in tone in person and his skin was bad. Since no one wanted to address the elephant in the room, I decided to do so: “you’ve gained a little weight since these images.”
He looked at his book quizzically then back at me and said “No. If anything, I’ve lost weight.” I looked at the chiseled face model in the photographs before me, and I looked up at the bloated baby face model that stood before me.
“Nooo….” I said slowly. “There is a marked difference between you now and these photos.”
Now before we go into the magic of lighting, makeup, photoshopping, etc. that wasn’t the issue at the moment. The issue was, he wasn’t a true representation of his book. There was a definite change in diet, there was a definite change in exercise. And in doing so, it affected his body type as well as his skin. I loved the guy I saw in the book. The guy in front of me was good looking, however, he was not the guy we saw in his book, therefore, he was not the guy we were looking for.
It happened periodically throughout the day and the troubling thing that emerged was this: it was only with the models of color!
As I was going through this round of go sees, deep down inside I was so pissed off because the models of color were already being dismissed from a wonderful and lucrative opportunity, why in the HELL would you give anyone any reason to not select you for a job?
When you are a model, you have got to be model ready ALL THE TIME! You don’t have the luxury of being anything less. If I said it once, I said it a million times. Be ready at all times. Don’t give anyone any reason to dismiss you from a job. Your body and your face are your commodity; your ability to model is your vocation. Take it seriously or you won’t book the jobs. If you can’t come in looking like your photographs, don’t come in at all.
Whew, I feel better now. Time to go to bed.