In a Year

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Last year, an agency reached out and asked if they could sign me.

From which catapulted me into equally exhilarating and uncomfortable scenarios: the excitement of being on set, the fear of being called out as an imposter, the caution around bringing it up in casual conversations…

I don’t look like my idea of a model and I was forced to deal with that concept and face the insecurities that came along with it.

But because of this opportunity, I have been able to work with international brands like Microsoft and Nintendo along with the talented creatives in the Portland area.

What modeling taught me:

1) To claim what I am

For the first few months, I didn’t tell anybody I got signed. Even though it’s what I did and what I got paid to do, I was afraid people would assume negative things about me if I mentioned that I modeled on the side.

I had to trust that my character spoke for itself. It also challenged me to internally redefine what being a model meant. I had to recognize that my fears were just a projection of my own misconceptions. For example, I was afraid that people would think I was conceited, ditzy, and pretentious. But this ultimately revealed what I personally thought models were: conceited, ditzy, and pretentious.

Shedding these unfounded thoughts was the first step in finding pride and comfort in being in this industry.

2) Always arrive prepared and on time

Unpolished nails, Brazilian wax, clean hair, shaved pits and legs, clean face. Bring a bag with nude underwear, makeup, and ironed clothes if asked.

I had to approach every audition and every call time like an interview. There was a sense of professional urgency with every modeling/talent commitment.

For my very first paid non-agency shoot I did not shave my legs because I didn’t think I needed to. In reality, the shoot required dresses for most of the time and I found myself apologizing to the client and the photographer. Even though body hair is completely a personal choice, I was getting paid for a shoot. In the end, I cost the photographer more time in post-production.

That did not happen again.

3) To know my worth

Within a few months into being signed and doing a few gigs, I was reached out by smaller companies to work for free. Because I wasn’t sure of my worth, I accepted these readily - telling myself that these shoots would ultimately lead to more paid shoots. But as my agent aptly said after three months of completely unpaid work, unpaid shoots lead to more unpaid shoots.

Not to completely reject all unpaid shoots, but I learned that in order for others to recognize my worth - I have to do it myself.

In conclusion:

A year of being a model/talent taught me to address my own insecurities and misconceptions about the industry. It also challenged me to redefine what it meant to be a model and what it takes to be in this industry. One of which is a high level of professionalism. Ultimately, it’s a job, and I had to prepare for it accordingly.

And wow, it is so much fun.

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Photos by Alana for Sewn by Sophia

PersonalMargaret Alba