Today’s post originated from a concept I was discussing with a friend a couple of months ago. I am always trying to connect entertainers with the “rest of the world”, and I’ve found that there are often misconceptions as to who and what entertainers are. When talking with my friend, the subject of models surfaced, and I mentioned that I would be curious to see what kinds of questions teen and young adult girls would ask if they were given the opportunity to talk with a model. Together we decided to find out. We contacted about twenty or so young women to see what kinds of things they would be interested in knowing. I expected them have a positive image of models, to look up to them. To my surprise, there was an overwhelmingly negative response. Outcries against the modeling industry were a common theme, and the common images of “models” seemed to be of eating disorders and hateful personalities. It seemed as though the emotional bashing of shows like Project Runway and America’s Next Top Model had spread the idea that this was somehow the industry norm. Though I’m sure much of this type of environment definitely exists, I think it is crucial to remember that there are thousands of models who never walk on the runway, never starve themselves, and are genuinely good people. Another misconception seemed to be that models were only successful because of their looks, that they were uneducated, unskilled, and did not have to work for a living. This type of attitude is not positive and it does not encourage. We have to remember that models are people, just like we are people. Over the past few years I have had opportunity to become acquainted with a model that I believe foils this entire negative image. Her name is Julianna Stasio. Through our conversations together, I came to know Julianna as a positive influence on the Charleston community. She is a family woman who loves baseball. She’s worked normal jobs and holds a Bachelor’s Degree from the College of Charleston. Honestly, there weren’t even any typographical errors in the responses she sent me for this interview! Julianna firmly believes that beauty comes from a kind heart, not physical features. Read through our correspondence and tell me one more time about what models are like.
1. How did you first find yourself working as a model?
A friend of mine was a Graphic Design student, and at the time had a photography project in which she needed a model. I definitely wasn’t a model, at least the conventional runway model society has come to idolize. But, she ended up snapping some shots of me down along the battery. Her photo is probably how this started.
2. What’s been your favorite project so far?
Picking just one project is way too difficult for me. That’s like someone asking me to rank my top five favorite films of all time, and honestly that changes constantly, though I hold some classics dear to my heart. So in regards to my favorite project— I enjoy every project I have the opportunity to be a part of. I wouldn’t do it if I didn’t really enjoy it or feel comfortable with it. I do have some favorites I’ve collaborated with though.
3. How different do you think people’s views of modeling are versus how it actually works? There really are so many perspectives regarding modeling, I’m not quite sure how to say how they all differ. I do know it’s fun, but it’s also a job. As long as everyone collaborating on the shoot and especially the client are happy, then I’m happy. Of course your physical appearance is a big part of modeling, so you do have to keep in mind you want to keep your body healthy. But, I’m fortunate that I enjoy exercising, getting plenty of sleep, and eating fairly healthy.
4. When you aren’t working on a shoot, what do you enjoy doing?
I LOVE hot yoga. I started it about a year ago, and practice it several times a week. I am by no means an advanced “yogi”, but it’s definitely addicting. I love watching movies, running, traveling, and spending time with family, friends, and my golden retriever, Bella. I like being outside whether it’s taking a long walk, going to the beach, sitting on my porch swing, or kayaking. I like reading good books and writing screenplays. Listening to country music with the windows down in my car, and dancing. I like a lot of things.
5. What other sorts of jobs have you held? (note: I put this question in because I think it’s totally cool that you worked for the news!)
My first real job was working the drive-thru at a Chick-fil-a with my best friend I’ve known since I was nine years old—that was fun; I’ve also worked during baseball season at a minor-league stadium as a waitress; I used to wake up at 3am every Monday through Friday to be at a local news station by 4am to work as a production assistant/camera operator during live morning newscasts, and finally I’ve been a mascot where I’ve sweated profusely. So I’ve had a variety of little jobs.
6. You and I are both tied to the College of Charleston. What did you study during your time there? I graduated from the College of Charleston where I majored in English and minored in film studies. I had some great literature and film classes during my time there. Shakespeare and Pop Culture, Introduction to African American Literature, and Mafia in the Movies were great!
7. What advice do you have for girls that don’t feel beautiful? I know we all have days we don’t feel our best, but I just hope everyone remembers they are beautiful. Beauty is something that is marketed, and it has morphed throughout history. It sounds cliche, but “beauty is in the eye of the beholder” and although we focus a lot on the physical appearance of an individual, true beauty is found from within. It’s in the forms of kindness, grace, loyalty, and so on…that’s where we have to remember beauty is.
8. What’s your overall vision for your modeling work?
I don’t know that I have this big vision for my modeling work. I think I certainly have fun with it, and learn something from every shoot, but use it as a means to step into the world of filmmaking. I’ve started auditioning for films, and hope one day to direct one.
9. Can you give us a few trivia facts about yourself?
Favorite Accessory: A baseball cap.
I love old black and white films.
Favorite music genre: Country
Jimmy Stewart, Audrey Hepburn, and Lucille Ball are my idols. Stewart because he was a good-hearted man on and off camera, Audrey Hepburn because she exuded kindness and grace, and Lucille Ball because she made people laugh.
Valeria C. asks:
How do the standards that models have to keep make you feel about your body? Are you confident in your own skin?
I don’t really let model standards make me feel any sort of way about my body. I like my body. I always believe in working out a little more and a little harder, but because it makes me happy and I like being healthy. It’s not just because of the physical results, but because of how my mind and soul feel afterwards. Confidence comes from within and not necessarily because of the makeup you put on your face or how you do your hair. That all certainly makes us feel good, but nobody looks like that all the time. I am confident in my own skin, but I’ll tell you I had terrible acne by the end of my high school/early college years, and certainly there were days I’d just say to myself “ugh”, but I didn’t let it inhibit me in the long run.
Bianca G. asks:
Do you feel a lot of pressure to look a certain way or uphold a certain image?
No, I don’t honestly. You’ll find me walking around in yoga pants, a college tee, and an old baseball cap quite often. I love getting dressed up though. That’s always fun and feels nice. If anything, the image I uphold is being true to myself.
Teresa S. asks:
What’s the best part of your job?
Meeting awesome, down-to-earth, talented artists from all over the world who are passionate about what they do. Watching how everyone comes together, and how a project turns out is so great. There is an energy on a set that you can’t quite find anywhere else—I love it. I was fortunate to meet and work with a crew of SCAD graduate students this summer on a short film called Paradise. We filmed all down in Georgia during the month of July, and the crew and cast were so fun. They became my family on day one of shooting—truly talented filmmakers.
It is my personal belief that at the heart of negativity lies a lack of love. Some young women turn the injustices they’ve been shown onto others. Some feel pressured to “be like” other women. However, I would venture a guess that most people have just been misinformed about the modeling industry. It is always those with the biggest problems that receive the most attention, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t thousands of hard working, genuine men and women working in the industry every day. Believe it or not, they get up, get ready, and go to work just like the rest of us. They have things they love and things they hate about their jobs. Don’t we? So the next time someone wants to bash a model (or anyone for that matter), make a stand. Don’t participate in tearing other people down. As I constantly say we have the power to change these industries. Don’t like what you see on Modeling TV shows? Turn them off. Know someone who looks great in front of a camera? Take pictures with them! Every choice we make changes our world by a little bit. Let’s get to it!
Until next time, I’m Chancy Johnson. Here to bring them~
Out of the Woodwork.