Sunday, 14 July 2019

So you want to be a model...

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The modelling industry is known as being competitive, fierce and fast-paced. I have grown up watching programmes like 'America's Next Top Model' which has both scared and inspired me to take my own plunge into the modelling world. And, I'm here to provide you with an honest documentation of it. 

As a 6'1-6'2, long legged, slim girl, I was scouted for modelling at a young age. At 14 I was picked up by STORM where I seriously considered a modelling career. Then, illness hit. I became a wheelchair user and thought my modelling days were long gone. Over the years I'd do the odd (usually time-free) job modelling bridal wear but  in doing so I'd try hide my disability.

After battling with my conditions for several years, now knowing that it was life-long, I decided to go for my first modelling experience in my wheelchair. I was invited along to a casting for a pageant/agency and as soon as they saw my wheelchair I was completely blanked. I left in tears, followed by my furious mum and it put me off both the profession and the people involved.

Fast forward many years and I hear of Zebedee Management as a mutual friend recently signed with them. Zebedee are an inclusive agency, representing models with all kinds of disabilities and that's why initially caught my eye. Reading into the agency further, I saw they had some absolutely fantastic success stories with amazing brands and were really pushing boundaries in the fashion industry (and beyond). I am majorly into inclusivity as I focus a lot of my public speaking on it, so seeing an agency with this as a top priority really drew me in. 

I decided to apply for the agency and after a test shoot I was signed. It was a big step and I have to say, a risky one too. Would I get a job out of it? Would my health manage? Is this just going to be a costly hobby?

So, after being with Zebedee for a few moths now I wanted to share with you 5 things you should know when joining an agency like Zebedee: 

  1. You need to be super flexible. Train at 9am tomorrow? Of course.  Many brands work to short time scales and also give you details last minute. It isn't unheard of to get details the day before. Flexibility is key and can be hard with a disability, which is why agencies like Zebedee do their best to negotiate start times/stays/etc. But, sometimes a brand needs someone urgently! Being near London is a bonus because most jobs are based there, but if you're not in the capital, you definitely must be able to travel. 
  2. It is going to cost you money. We won't beat around the bush about this one. The test-shoot costs money. The agency takes a cut of any earning. Traveling costs money. This is all totally normal. It's up to you to decide how much you can spend on this and what jobs you're willing to accept. Sometimes, the experience is worth the cost to get your foot in the door. But don't go into this thinking either you don't need to invest money in it or you're automatically going to suddenly be a millionaire.
  3. Your disability matters a lot. So do your talents. Unlike your 'average' agency, Zebedee are obviously representing those with disabilities. You will be casted because of your disability which is actually such an amazing thing. Your talents matter too, whether you have experience in sport, public speaking or magic... you'd be surprised at what directors specifically cast for.
  4. The days are long. My first job was for a TV advert and I had a 12 hour shooting day. You start early with hair & make-up then have the rest of the day on set. It does depend on the production but especially with TV it's not a quick 1hour job. The good news is that the crew were fabulous with my disability. I usually only get up out of bed for 2 hours a day so you can imagine how much I pushed myself to film. I had food/water breaks, always had my legs elevated, rests to lie down and was kept warm. But, it's something to bare in mind when applying. 
  5. Nothing is guaranteed. But, you could get the most amazing experiences. I'm not going to sit here and type 'You'll 100% have a job within 6 months' because not one agency could guarantee that. But, I can share my experience. I have worked my bum off behind the scenes and it paid off. Not all of it is about the agency pitching you, it's about improving yourself and making those opportunities come to you too. I've been incredibly lucky that I have had 2 jobs come through in just a few months with the agency but I know that it's not going to be guaranteed regular work and because of this it could never be my full time profession. But, I have loved each experience and happy-cried at each one thinking 'wow, Kate, look at you go' because I couldn't believe the opportunity. And, it's worth every penny and every ounce of energy.

If you are a committed person, who is in the position to be able to travel and willing to initially invest then I honestly would definitely recommend it. The hardest decision for me was whether joining the agency would affect my health and in all honesty, it did. But, I'm the kind of person who has the ability and the support at home to grab every opportunity then pay for the consequences later. And, I make that decision. It's so so worth it. Zebedee is an agency who is there to support you every step of the way and I 100% can honestly recommend them, I've already just recommended one of my friends to them. I'm incredibly excited to see what my future brings and have my eyes firmly set on being able to model for a big brand one day! 



Top - Zebedee Shots         Bottom - Joe Laws, Katie Meehan, Brook-Rose O'Brian

Follow my progress at @katestanforth on instagram 
My Zebedee Profile - If you want to have a nose.
Zebedee Website - Accepting applications until end of July - let me know if you apply!

Kate x

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