By Matthew Prescott Oxman
It’s Sunday morning and Amelia Columbus sits at her desk, cozy in her sweatpants and fighting to stay awake. Like many students she is trying to recover from the night before while staring at her pile of homework. But Columbus had more than homework on her mind.
“I’m going to meet with three agencies. It’s going to take all day,” she said.
The first-year graphic communications management student has to balance school with commercial modeling. So far she’s only done smaller jobs, like for Montreal-based retailer Dynamite. But once the school year is over she is travelling to China on a three-month modeling contract with agency Jastar Model.
“I’m excited, but I haven’t really had time to think about it. It’s hard when you have so much school work,” she said.
Challenges come in all sizes when you are trying model while staying in school.
“If your weight isn’t what’s listed in your profile, you have to apologize to the photographer and the clothing company,” she said.
When your measurements are even half an inch off, it can pose a problem, said Columbus, who has had to admit to being ‘overweight’ before. If she is over her listed measurements in China this summer, the agency could terminate her contract.
“You’re being judged all the time. You’re too fat. Too short. You kind of feel like a piece of property,” Columbus said.
David Janveaux, a second-year architectural science student has been modeling for two years and has both commercial and runway experience.
He has sacrificed in some areas of his life to make room for inconvienient casting times.
“If you really want to do something you’re going to cancel an appointment, you’re going to leave work, you’re going to book around it,” he said.
Like any other job, paychecks come into play. Through modeling Columbus has made about $500 per job. When she goes to Shanghai she will be raking in even more.
Wiktor Trzaska is a booking agent at Toronto-based Orange Model Management. Employing many student models, Trzaska knows that students can become overwhelmed by the combination of modeling and studying.
“Everything piles up sometimes, no matter how hard you try to avoid it. Sometimes you just have to forgive that,” he said.
Trzaska said if you’re interested in modeling you should take advantage of the Ryerson community to start building your portfolio.
“Ryerson has a great runway show in the spring,” he said, referring to the School of Fashion’s annual Mass Exodus show. He also said to audition for student films and model for student photographers, as both parties will benefit.
Fourth-year fashion communication student Natalie Ossa is the head of casting for this year’s Mass Exodus. The show requires 150 models that will be casted in February. Ossa said no experience or portfolio is necessary but she is looking for male and female models who are “perky.”
Confidence is vital if you want any success modeling.
“You need to believe you’re good looking. You have to show them you’re serious and actually willing to do stuff or it’s just a waste of time,” Janveaux said.
Columbus said no to her agency Cover Models when they asked her to go to Japan during this school year, putting her studies before modeling.
“Modelling is fun but it’s not something I can do for the rest of my life.”
Instead she hopes to work in the magazine business.
“I want to be in that world,” she said, “just not as a model.”
Photo: Lauren Strapagiel