Today, there are plenty of famous black models in the fashion industry, including supermodels Naomi Simms, Iman Abdulmajid, Alek Wek, Tyra Banks and Naomi Campbell.
This has inspired a lot of African-Americans to try their luck in this industry as well, wishing to become the next face of the world’s most famous fashion and beauty labels.
If you are one of them, here is a step-by-step guide into becoming a breakthrough African-American fashion model:
Step 1: Take photos of yourself
Beauty comes from within – this statement echoes endlessly in the fashion world. You need to embrace this notion because fashion and modeling are about showcasing how beautiful you are, inside and out.
Practice being comfortable in your own skin in front of a camera.
You must take a variety of images that are both marketable and professional. Aside from taking portrait photos, you should also take full body shots to highlight your physique.
Bear in mind that most international modeling agencies are exacting when it comes to modeling requirements, which include typical details such as your height and weight, as well as personality traits likes confidence, freshness and that elusive X factor.
Step 2: Work on your personality
Just as beauty is important in the fashion industry, your personality is also a huge factor that can take you a long way.
It is crucial for you to identify and stick to your true identity – show off your confidence and create a trademark smile. This can separate you from the rest, especially so that plenty of people around the world want to become a model.
Bear in mind that competition in the fashion industry is fierce. Only those who are extremely versatile or have something unique to offer will remain and can go far.
So knowing what you really want and pushing yourself towards that goal will help make your dreams become a reality. With focus, discipline and perseverance, you will definitely be running your own show later on.
Step 3: Be fashionable
Your wardrobe will define your eye for fashion.
Since most photographers and modeling agencies will scrutinize how stylish you are, know what style you want to portray.
Of course, you need to learn what works best for your complexion. Don’t wear designer labels just because they are considered glamorous. Instead, wear them because they suit your identity and overall look.
Be well-versed with the clothing styles that you would want to market someday and keep learning. By doing so, you may find black designers asking you to wear their creations in the future.
Step 4: Practice your walk for the runway
Don’t just watch black models walking on the runway stage – practice your own walk as well. Envision yourself walking down on a platform with your 6-inch pair of heels. Focus on trying to imitate how world-renowned black models pose and walk down the runway.
With constant practice, you’ll be striding like a pro in no time, and eventually develop your “signature walk” in the process.
Moreover, you need to study different fashion magazines and television shows before going to modeling agencies. Remember that these days, you do have a lot of sources to get inspiration from.
Step 5: Build your portfolio
Just like searching for a job, it is crucial for you to build up your portfolio and resume.
Your portfolio is the best tool for marketing your capabilities.
In putting together your portfolio, remember that fashion agencies admire aspiring models that thrive in their own small way. Even if some or most of your past work involve small, irregular gigs, as long as your portfolio (i.e. the photos in it) shows the effort you took to do well in each job, they would get a hint of how you can become a valuable asset to whomever you will model for.
Step 6: Work with a professional modeling agency
After you have proven that you have the beauty, charisma, and substance to take you far in the business, it is time to look for the best modeling agency.
As much as possible, search and submit your portfolio to ones that suit your style and identity. With an excellent portfolio and resume, you will have a better chance of getting selected for an interview.
Signing up for casting calls is another good option to enter the fashion industry, especially if you haven’t heard back from the modeling agencies you have applied to.
As an aspiring African-American model, getting cast in a fashion show or any form of media exposure can become your breakthrough moment.
Just make sure to always put forth your best work and leave a good impression. Most importantly, be prepared for your model casting by reading through the brief from the modeling agent, dressing appropriately, arriving early, and always being polite.
Becoming a successful model is not an easy process, but it is not impossible. You just have to equip yourself with the right information, and take the necessary steps to follow through..
Above all, make the most of your uniqueness and great personality, and always, always put your best foot forward.
Jessicka Bell co-founded the AgenC, one of the leading model/talent agencies in the Middle East, in 2014. After just three years in the market, the AgenC now works with most (if not all) of the heavy hitters in media and fashion, as well as represents over 1,000 talents ranging from international models through to cast, kids, creatives and photographers.