Every year, I like to find a different way of celebrating my favorite day: my birthday. Since I am turning 32 next month (I know…awww…), I’ve decided to share 32 revelations I have had during the course of my life about everything from life in general to business. Think of it as daily inspiration for you and therapy for me. It is a challenge for me, because I don’t think I have ever published a post everyday in the entire existence of The Aristocracy of HR. Plus, I recognize that while I am fairly generous in sharing on social media and here, I have only just scraped the surface on sharing who I am when I’m not pontificating how HR and Business can do better. Let’s use the month of March to get to know one another better. I hope at the end of the month, you walk away with something you can use in your own life or business.
Day 9 of 31- Chin Up, Dear!
From my teens and through my early twenties, I had this dream to become a model. When you live in NY, you don’t just sit on that dream you get on a train and hit the concrete jungle to make it happen. It was a grind that I loved. Between going to school and working I was combing the web for auditions whether they were for dance or modeling open calls. I went a long time without representation and that is its own bag of tricks. For those of you who have either danced, modeled or acted you know it involves a rollercoaster of emotions. You go from being really excited one moment to having that lump in your throat right before you get called to do your thing. Then there’s the aftermath. This is the affect of your ruminations about how you did on the audition; peppered with the comments and facial expressions made by the casting team.
Having been in the industry at a time, the one thing I can tell you is that you have to have really thick skin. It is a very connected, clique-y profession. As a newbie, I was fresh meat and vulnerable to any criticism they wanted to make. You knew which girls had an established rapport. They didn’t even need their portfolio- it was “kiss-kiss and hug-hug and oh we missed you the other night at X lounge in Soho and they got the gig”. The one casting director that sticks out in my mind is a guy who was launching an urban brand. He was coming up on the heels of the urban fashion movement of the late 90’s and early 2000’s. He suggested that I get a nose job and consider getting veneers to close up the gap between my teeth. I was forthright in telling him I would do none of the above, but the more time I spent in the industry hearing similar suggestions it began to wear on me. Momentarily, you start thinking should I get the nose job or the veneers? The pressures to look a certain way wear on you with time, if you don’t check it.
The last straw was when I went to a dance/model audition for a notable rap artist who shall remain nameless. The director called me up after the audition to offer me the part in the video along with parts in upcoming videos he was directing with the likes of Alicia Keys and other artists. The one condition he had was I had to go out with him and his friend to drinks and do things I will leave to your imagination. That conversation ended with me telling him: “I am in college, I have a future, a boyfriend, and never call me again”. He got my drift and by some act of God I made it to the final string of auditions for the video. The artist got himself in a jam so we never got to formally shot the video. The artist also tried his hand with me and I had to set him straight as well.
Modeling was fun, but it was the first time in my life that I truly had to learn to live with rejection, being scrutinized and having to defend my standards and worth. It was a lot to deal with at the time, but I have been really thankful for the experience the past few years. When I’ve had to face rejection in the workplace or have been under scrutiny in a job; I always remember my modeling days and suddenly the situation doesn’t hold as much weight. I just tell myself “chin up, dear” you got this. Every time you show up to start a new job, project or make a life change it is like an audition. It could go really well or you could fail. Either way, the only thing that is sure in that moment is you showing up and doing what is needed. The rest is out of your hands. I also learned that you are nothing in this world if you don’t have a standards or values. I could have caved and acquiesced the director’s request and went on to do some huge projects that could have catapulted my modeling career, but at what cost- my dignity, worth, future husband (who was my then boyfriend)?
I walked away from modeling with my head held high and no regrets. I ultimately knew I had great things in store for me as a college student and professional. Don’t get me wrong, I still enjoy striking-a-pose once in a while, but modeling now serves as a distant memory and a lesson of fashionably sashaying away from things in life that compromise your worth.
Czarina’s Lesson: Everything in life is connected. It’s up to you to make the connections and recognize the lessons.
I’ve wondered, when I see models in pictures and in music videos, what their lives are like. I suspect many jobs that seem glamorous are far from it. I enjoyed your memories. The important thing was, first, walking away with your head held high (you did not compromise your beliefs) and second, recognizing the skills that could transfer into future parts of your life. I look forward to reading other posts from you. I’ve been blogging daily since late April 2011. It was hard the first month I did it, but after that, it became addictive.
Thank you for reading, Alana. The modeling industry is interesting. Every time I hear a celebrity talk about being indecently propositioned in return for parts or exposure, I always shake my head because I get it. For those that stick with it, you ultimately decide what side of the equation you want to be on. Writing everyday is certainly a challenge, but I am dedicated to pushing myself to do it. Looking forward to checking out your blog as well.