Model Behaviour part II: Letoya’s top tips 

Listen up models. Letoya Johnstone is here to give you that all important advise that agencies charge a pretty penny for. Your mission if you choose to embrace it is to shine at your next casting call and well beyond once you get booked. These are the dos and don’ts of modelling.

Preparation for casting calls

Some of you [models] come so done up [too much makeup] that you leave the casting agents perplexed as to if you truly understand the modelling industry. As a model, this is what you really need to know when you’re going for casting:

  1. Carry multiple pairs of heels, ladies and a tube of super glue. You need to be prepared for any eventuality.
  2. Don’t go with makeup on because someone wants to see who you are. Also when you are trying on the clothes you could stain them and this is an even bigger no!
  3. Make sure you change into well-fitting tights and t-shirt or vest for the casting. They want to see your features, your walk and the movement of your body. That includes tying back your hair so we can see your face. Don’t ever audition with a wig and a bang. It’s even better to go there with your natural hair.

[Image: Courtesy of cltmodels]

[Image: Courtesy of cltmodels]

[Image: Courtesy of cltmodels]




4. Always have pins, rubber bands and clippers because it could give you the extra edge to get selected. Whether it’s to make a designer’s clothes fit better on you to make you stand out or sometimes when there are too many models, they narrow it down by giving you a baggy dress and want to see your creativity. So they’ll give them a challenge to turn it into something that is wearable that someone can use. That’s more or less an audition and helps them narrow down from the hundreds.

5. For the love of God, groom yourself and shave; hair shouldn’t be throbbing out of anywhere. Wipe down any sweat or grease before you walk into casting and wear deodorant but not perfume that will stain the clothes. Be as fresh as possible during these castings.

6. Don’t forget your portfolio – it should show your variety of skills and wow the casting agents. Be as honest as possible with your abilities and measurements on it please.



Where models go wrong

Wondering why you aren’t getting great references from your previous shoots? You may be guilty of the following modelling sins [which you need to refrain from IMMEDIATELY]:

  1. Treating the clothes like rags. The moment I see the model dropping clothes on the floor I immediately tell her to pack her things because she has a lot to learn and until she does she’s not working on that project. And make sure that you’re telling her where everyone is hearing. Then call the agency and get her replacement ASAP. Unprofessional models give the modelling industry that diva image which isn’t the case. Treat the clothes with respect, it doesn’t matter what the clothes look like or if it’s your styles.
  1. Lack of mobile phone etiquette. A model is busy taking selfies and by that time you’re still waiting for a model to get changed. They also get too comfortable asking the stylist et al to take behind the scenes pictures for her. HELLO are you okay? Me, taking your photo at a photoshoot where you should be working?? Put your phone very far away and take the selfies after.
[Image: Courtesy of H&M/Balmain]

[Image: Courtesy of H&M/Balmain]

[Image: Courtesy of Lagos Fashion and Design Week]

[Image: Courtesy of Lagos Fashion and Design Week]

  1. Changing the makeup that the team has selected. I don’t care if you don’t like it, don’t you dare remove the makeup and then start doing the makeup over the way you want. I feel editorial magazines here have encouraged this because they look for hot models forgetting that modelling is about selling the clothes. Leave the hot models for pageantries, advertisements and commercials. But when it comes to high fashion take someone with interesting features.
  1. Not keeping it professional. When you’re working, be as professional as you can be. You’ve been hired. As much as most of the crew are your age mates, don’t get too comfortable. Your job is to show up and take directions and keep your personal space. That includes respecting the backstage. Don’t bring your friends to wait backstage and then take modelling advice from them instead of the crew… the space is small enough as it is. Only the required people need to be there.

Final thoughts

I have to come back to the point of pay. Show organisers should be paying their runway models at the very least KShs10,000. Editors should start the pay grade for models that end up on the cover from KShs60,000 with the editorial spread fetching at least KShs30,000. Paying them KShs5,000 or even expecting them to do it for free is unacceptable. People should start treating models like human beings with bills.

Magazines and runway productions in Kenya keep paying the models a year after the job was completed. I try and mediate and meet with them to find a way forward but they don’t want to even do that. They just want to say how busy they are. By the time I take to social media to call out someone, it isn’t trying to bring people down. People say that it’s wrong and that I should be discussing it in private but we as Kenyans need to stop keeping quiet when there’s great injustices going around. I’ve been in the industry for so long and I’ve seen it all. It has gotten out of hand. It is high time that we need to finish the mistreatment of models.

  • Letoya Johnstone

    May 22, 2016, 11:23 AM

    Thank you so much Meron Dymphana , our models have a long way to go but above all , these models developed these uncouth behaviors because somebody somewhere did not know their responsibility. If Every designer, magazine and or all editorial stylists and show organizers would cut out all the models with these uncouth behaviors two minutes before walking down the runway and make sure the remaining ones are paid 20,000 ksh after the show then these uncouth behaved models will learn their lessons.

  • Meron Dymphana

    May 20, 2016, 11:10 AM

    The selfie part is super true and they need to treat the back stage crew with respect because they affect the model’s performance in terms of making sure she’s on point by dressing them and getting them ready for the next look. Good stuff from fashion mogul extraordinaire Letoya Johnstone.

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