February isn’t only Black History Month or a time for award and sport shows. It’s also about FASHION. This Winter’s month is when designers and artist show their latest styles for Summer, creating a constant flow of castings and events.
I have been modeling since Winter 2010 and partaking in entertainment since youth. I’ve appeared on local television, national television, independent films, and local modeling/fashion circuits. Now-a-days I cherish the few gigs, or jobs, I obtain here and there, especially being enrolled full-time. (Fun fact: I will be in the CityTech’s Spring Production “the falling Sparrow”)
Last year I joined a booking agency for natural hair models. They emailed about a casting for $500-$1000 to be apart of a DVD or Webcast. Models allowed to attend would be considered for the job. I was confirmed and I was excited! I even avoided getting my hair done with my newly purchased internationally imported hair wefts.
I went to the casting after class, traveling to Lower Manhattan Gansevorts’ Meatpacking District on the West side near 14th street. It was snowing, I was cold, I got semi-lost, yet very determined. I managed to arrive before call time. To my surprise, because of the STORM, the casting was delayed. I canceled my sub-sequential appointments.
Models of various shapes and sizes poured into the mini elevator, then headed to the penthouse suite. I saw some familiar faces and several new ones. There were models conversing with new found friends; models sitting on couches dreaming away; models standing against walls; models sitting and gazing at those walls; models on their phones avoiding looking up at the surroundings, models preparing their newly painted masks in the restrooms, models changing garments from their winter-barriers to runway ready attire, and models disappearing due to the wait.
A couple of hours later, a male appeared. He laughed at the site and asked for some more organization. He separated us by our current hair length: those with long hair went to the right and those with hair above the shoulder went to the left. Having my hair in its tightly curly state I went to the left. He disappeared and there was a large waves of chatter. 20 minutes later he reappeared with a female companion. She further grouped us by hair color: brunettes to the right; blondes to the left; red heads to the back center; those with bobs or who will cut their hair to the back left; an those who would color their hair in any of the previously mentioned go to that group. I didn’t want to cut my hair so I went to the rouges, showing an open mind. The pair looked in the crowd of eager faces. They walked the room choosing those they saw fit. They ran their hands in models’ heads before putting them on a lifted platform. They disappeared and deliberated, upon returning they dismissed us. Of the 30 models on stage, all were female, Caucasian, long hair, straight, maybe with a slight wave on some. Most were brunettes, 3 blondes, and one model had short gray hair in a bob.
The minorities looked at each other and at those on the platform. Some faces looked upset, others looked used to the turn out, and other visages remained blissful. I hoped at least one any minority, long or short, straight or curled, would be chosen. I felt even though we was allowed to attend this “equal opportunity” casting, there wasn’t an authentic place for us.
When leaving, it was as if we were on 42nd street during rush hour packed in a cramped corridor. People went to the elevator and some searched for stairs. While I waited online for the elevator, a feminine Greek-like statuesque consoled her tribal match, yet curly red-haired friend. She said, “Don’t take it personal… they usually go for people with straight hair. I’ve been chosen several times before when my hair has straight so I won’t [take it personal].”
I was conflicted. I was taking it personal. I thought of how I was screened for the casting and had hopes of being chosen. I thought of discrimination. I thought of being of color during Black History Month. I thought of breaking out of the African-American circuit and being internationally accepted. I thought of straightening my hair.
QUESTIONS TO THE PUBLIC: Do you feel there is a STILL a gap in the beauty industry? | Have you partook in fashion shows, what was the casting process? | What is your take on Mercedes Benz Fashion Week vs. Couture Fashion Week vs. Brooklyn Fashion Week vs. Urban Fashion Week? | Should models take castings personal or should the artist choose their subjects? | Should castings be regulated?