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MODELING & TALENT modeling By Eve Matheson Words of Wisdom Between the expertise of scouts at IMTA and the ever-changing methods of industry geniuses, there is plenty of advice out there for aspiring models loved the sheer honesty of photographer and model coach Shawn Ehlers, in a story she told to an audience of Internation- al Model and Talent Association (IMTA) school directors in Los Angeles, about the most nerve-shattering experience of her career as an international model. It happened at her very first de- signer show. She said: “I was so nervous. I tripped and fell down the stairs on top of the designer, Ralph Lauren. He never booked me again!” Shaken but not deterred, Shawn was determined to be a great model. “When I moved to Milan I put up barriers on either side of my room to simulate a runway. I walked and walked and walked and did everything I could to learn poise and confidence. I took my craft very seriously. It was hard in those days. I was not a natural model. I was klutsy and always so nervous. There was no school to help me and we had to learn so much tech- nique; spinning, turning, taking off jackets, working with gloves and jew- elry, and on and on. Today it is really easy. It is back to having a basic, beau- tiful walk and confidence. I practiced all the time and it paid off. One day I walked into an interview with Giorgio Armani; he liked me and started work- ing with me. I was set.” Shawn was joined by three other remarkably talented former models in the presentation for the school directors, which was entitled, “Keep Current... There Is Always More To Learn!” They were her busi- ness partner Karen Lee, a former international model and agent, who is the founder and owner of Karen Lee Group, a scouting and development company in New York City; Sandi Bass who was a I SHAWN EHLERS top international model for many years before becoming a scout for Asia, and renowned fashion show producer Michael Maddox. The information was of immeasurable value for the school direc- tors. It encompassed many aspects of a model’s career. I am pass- ing on some of it knowing it will answer many of the questions in my inbox from aspiring models. Shawn: “You have to keep studying your craft. Stay current! Techniques and requirements change almost every season. Never stop practicing! You have to eventually be good enough to walk into a room and book a job.” Karen Lee: “I am a runway coach and a certified yoga instruc- tor. Six weeks ago I broke my toe and couldn’t practice or teach my yoga or runway skills. When I started again I found I did not have the strength or ability to perform and teach as well as I do normally. Practice is mandatory.” Sandi: “Modeling is a fun career but it demands confidence and disci- pline. Agents want models to have their own individuality. They don’t want clones of the super models. Models should develop their own style but they must also stay current with what designers want and be adaptable to what the individual designer expects when they wear his clothes. It is up to the designer to decide how the model will walk in his show. This can change from season to season.” Michael: “You will hear different things from the four of us be- cause we are all individuals. We all defer to, and respect each other. Basically we are teaching the same principles—dedication, deter- mination, discipline, loyalty, respect and professionalism. Practice “There was no school to help me and we had to learn so much technique; spinning, turning, taking off jackets, working with gloves and jewelry, and on and on. Today it is really easy.” 30 PAGEANTRY MODELING Continued on page 84