A pair of Barbizon students turn their aspirations for stardom into a fancy feast of success in New York City and at Pageantry’s annual photo shoot.
By Fred Abel
The fashion industry is an insatiable man-eater. Think about it: There are millions of clothing products, dressing people from head to foot, that everyone on the planet needs to view, compare, try on, and purchase. When you consider the cost and trouble we go through in a lifetime of shopping for wardrobe fulfillment, it’s no wonder that fashion models for the apparel industry are in such demand.
And yet, each summer the International Barbizon Modeling and Talent Competition, held in conjunction with the International Modeling and Talent Association (IMTA) Convention in New York City, is able to satisfy only part of that demand. Why? Because, despite the need for models and other talents, only a very few of the individuals who apply will have the right combination of looks, personality, attitude, work ethic, perseverance, and that indefinable quality we often refer to as “charisma.”
Pageantry is fortunate to have had two of the most promising new models discovered at July’s Barbizon competition involved in the photo shoot for its 2006 Social Occasion Fashion Showcase, shot entirely on location in North Charleston, South Carolina, this past September. For Lisa Gomez, a 21-year-old model from Barbizon of Tucson, Arizona, and Juan Navarro, a 19-year-old model from Barbizon of Coral Springs, Florida, the Pageantry photo shoot was the icing on the cake that followed their healthy bites of “The Big Apple.”
With a weeklong combination of workshops, auditions, 20 different categories of inter-school and individual talent competitions, and informal caucuses taking place among the talent industry’s movers and shakers in the entertainment capital of the world, the IMTA-Barbizon event brings young people such as Lisa and Juan face-to-face with one irrefutable fact —thousands of young people from throughout the United States share their career aspirations, and only the very best of them will receive a callback. Plus, of those, only a percentage will sign contracts with agents and travel to such exotic far-off locales as Milan, London, Tokyo, and Melbourne, Australia, to take on professional modeling assignments.
Fortunately for Lisa Gomez and Juan Navarro, not only did they stand themselves in good stead on the runways of New York City, they also garnered the top recognition as Miss and Mr. Barbizon, titles that gave them the inside track to earn the pair of newly created Pageantry Magazine Photo Shoot Winner trophies, which were bestowed for the first time in Barbizon history in 2005. With their training at Barbizon Modeling and Acting Centers, combined with the experience they received while modeling the social occasion fashions that will appear in Pageantry’s Spring 2006 annual photo shoot edition, Lisa and Juan are already far ahead of many aspiring singers, actors, dancers, and models out to make a name for themselves.
But it wasn’t easy for either of them, especially when you consider how far both of them had to travel since growing up in relatively small towns — Lisa in Benson, a suburb of Tucson, Arizona, and Juan in Belle Glade, a sugar-farming town in South Florida. Lisa is in her second year at Cochise Community College, pursuing a general course of study, and works for American Express. Juan is in his second year at Santa Fe Community College in Gainesville, Florida, studying business and psychology.
LOOK OUT, WORLD! (Above right) As Mr. And Miss Barbizon 2005, Juan Navarro and Lisa Gomez realized a satisfying degree of success in competition, and had reason to celebrate on the streets of New York City and the Broadway theater district during this specially arranged shoot with photographer Robert Rosamilio.PAGEANTRY PRIZE: (Inset-center) The longtime partnership between Barbizon Modeling & Acting Centers and Pageantry magazine resulted in this specially created crystal trophy, bestowed for the first time to Pageantry Magazine Photo Shoot Winners, Juan and Lisa. STRIKE A POSE: (Above left) Lisa and Juan strut their stuff on location during the 2006 Fashion Showcase photoshoot.
Making it into the Pageantry photo shoot was no sure thing for either of them. Both shared in similar first steps, however, having signed up for runway modeling training at their Barbizon centers, where they took advantage of an environment that allowed them to not only learn their craft and understand the business but also to reshape their self-images in ways that would help them once they arrived in New York for auditions and interviews with industry and agency VIPs.
In her six months at Barbizon of Tucson, Lisa studied everything from how to deliver a monologue to the right way to present herself in front of a TV camera. “I was interested in modeling for the glitz and glamour, but the more classes I took, the more interested I became,” said Lisa. “I didn’t know that modeling was such a diverse industry.”
Juan looked at his entrance into Barbizon’s modeling program as moving one step closer to his goal of becoming an actor. “I’d always been interested in acting, and was always analyzing movies,” he said. “At Barbizon, the classes turned out to be a real confidence booster. The instructors got me to smile real big for the judges and take my time when walking the runway. We just had a lot of support, and they helped me bring out my personality more.”
Barbizon creates an environment that allows students to not only learn their craft and understand the business, but also to reshape their self-images in ways that help them once they arrive for major-league opportunities.
By the time both models arrived at IMTA with their Barbizon centers, they had differing reactions to being in New York City. Lisa said she felt “overwhelmed at first,” but soon overcame her jitters and grew more confident as the week progressed. “I learned more from just being able to push myself in front of so many people,” she said.
Juan said he felt more curious than excited upon arriving at IMTA, noting that, other than a commercial print modeling workshop, he spent the majority of his time getting to meet the inner circle of influential executives who decide who will become the next big stars. On the final day, when he won the Mr. Barbizon Award, he left for another agent appointment and missed his name being called for the Pageantry Photo Shoot Award. “I never did meet the agent,” he said, “but they called me back and I arrived at the awards ceremony in time to pose with Lisa.”
Lisa went into what she called a “bit of a shock” when her name was called as Miss Barbizon during the multi-media extravaganza Barbizon Awards celebration. But she has no doubt the experience was invaluable. “I will always have that experience to fall back on,” she said. “I know that if I can perform that well in New York City, I can do anything.”
Last we heard, Lisa was weighing her modeling options, while Juan was planning a trip to the West Coast, under contract with an agency there. Look for these Barbizon and Pageantry success stories in the magazine’s Spring 2006 Fashion Showcase issue, and in the future, who knows? One of them — or else one of the thousands just like them — will certainly help to feed the world’s insatiable appetite for models, film actors, TV and commercial performers, dancers, and all the other performers for whom we hunger so.
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