Last night I watched the first episode that featured one of the models that I scouted in Salt Lake City. My debut on a national TV show on the E! Channel! I was really excited but a little apprehensive. Valenteen was featured as one of the most promising models that has been discovered in Utah. Cat-like eyes and full of energy, she always reminded me of a young Kathy Ireland.
The modeling industry takes a lot of business sense, persistence, guts, and commitment. There is no way around that. In the 15+ years that I’ve been working in this industry as a model, model scout, model manager, fashion stylist and writer, I’ve been there and I know what it feels like to be a fresh new model just starting to spread her wings in the big fashion world out there. It can definitely be intimidating and scary, it takes a lot more work than you’d ever think by looking at magazines. It’s a whole new ballgame when you’re actually standing in those high heels, shivering on a rooftop, trying to create a magical moment for a top photographer to capture.
In last night’s episode Valenteen, just 16 years old, found herself suddenly thrust into the whirlwind of changes that come with modeling at a high level. Expert hairstylists and wardrobe consultants have a vision for your look and you will in most every case need to take their advice. Of course if you have made it known up front that there are some types of clothes that you won’t wear, that is completely acceptable in this industry, but when it is just a matter of taste, you really need to defer to your expert team.
I’ve been working with Valenteen for 1 year helping to develop her and teach her everything she needs to know to model at the highest level. You could see by the reaction from Bar Refaeli (she is absolutely one of the nicest people I’ve ever met) and the rest of the team in NY, she has a great walk- (that didn’t come overnight ). Unfortunately, when it’s time to face the music like it was for Valenteen in last night’s show, all of that training can quickly go out the window as you’re faced with lots of changes and challenges all at once.
My moment alone with Valenteen, when I told her that she needs to get over her initial distaste for her hairstyle and just shake it off and do her best in front of the camera, was a moment that I’ve shared with countless models over the years– it’s that moment of truth when they just need to know who they are and be strong. At 16 this can be tough, and during the photo shoot I thought Beri Smither was really empathetic when she said “you just need to support the model” when they’re struggling. Beri knows, she has been in those shoes. It isn’t easy, but if you can get over those initial insecurities and the challenges that come from being thrust into the spotlight, you really can take flight. I have no doubt that Valenteen will reach that point of lift off, she has everything she needs except for a little more experience and a few more years to center herself.
I love working with girls like Valenteen, despite the many challenges that come, because she has a pure heart. A little insecure at times, yes, a little nervous and scared, yes, but she is just a 16 year old girl doing her best, and in the end if she keeps doing that, she will go far in modeling and in life.
Photos of Valenteen by Danny Christensen, from the E! Scouted show Monday Dec. 5