“It could happen to you!” With those exhilarating and sincere words of encouragement, the 46th convention of the MAAI (Modeling Association of America International) commenced in New York City. For 46 years, MAAI has been making it happen for aspiring models and actors by showcasing top talent for the premier modeling scouts and agencies of the world throughout the ballrooms of the fabled Waldorf=Astoria. Forty-six years as the only not-for-profit association in the industry speaks volumes about the quality of talent provided year after year.
This year, the week of Easter began with a flourish of competition, both within group and individual performances, some required, some optional. In a whirlwind of activity, simultaneous competitions were judged in such categories as Runway, with both male and female competitors ranging in age groups from 4 years of age to 36 and over, and Photo. Optional categories, such as Makeup, Spanish TV Commercial, Kidzz Quizz-Improv, Legs, Soap Star, Voice-over Narration, Swimsuit, Cold Reading, and the Talent Showcase, provided more in-depth cues in helping agents to judge the readiness of the talent in attendance who might have what it takes to hit the stages and runways throughout the world. Could it happen? Could one of the scouts or agents searching and scouring the competitions of MAAI find the next star?
As the week unfolded, the anxiety escalated as contestants approached the Showcase of Models and Talent and the eagerly awaited call-backs. Who were the decision makers who could make it all happen for the fortunate ones talented enough to warrant further training and working gigs? The list reads like a who’s who of the industry. Attendees have included such illustrious industry names as Abrams Artists, Broadway Kids, Christian Jacques (Milan), Click, Elite, Ford Models, ICE (Milan), Ikon, IMG, Karin Models, Munich Models (Germany), NBC Daytime Casting, The New York School for Film and Television, Visage (Osaka), Wilhelmina, World Top (Tokyo), and countless others. Top agencies come to MAAI looking for top talent. It could happen, but would it happen?
The enthusiasm of the presented talent was palpable from the beginning. They were prepared and determined to take command of the runway or stage. They had choreographed and routinely practiced runway techniques, monologues and soliloquies, and talent performances. One only has to spend a few moments listening to and watching the performances to realize
ROOM WITH A VIEW: The fabled Wadorf=Astoria Grand Ballroom plays host to the exciting and elegant awards banquet.ON THEIR MARK: A professional troupe opens the 2006 MAAI Convention festivities.Nerves of steel: are on ample display during the anticipated call backs with top agents and scouts from around the globe.Michael Jordan: Portrays Reggie Montgomery on daytime’s “All My Children,” excites the audience with his personal experience of being discovered.Forbes March: Better known as Nash Brennan of “One Life To Live,” welcomes the crowd to the Grand Awards banquet.
that these are the lucky few who have the chance to pursue their dreams and experience the opportunity many can only fantasize about. They were here to find out if it could happen to them, as it has happened to others who graced the stages and runways of the Waldorf=Astoria before them.
Could it happen? Could one of the scouts or agents searching and scouring the competitions of MAAI find the next star?
But not every moment centered around the competition. Convention attendees also had the opportunity to learn about specific aspects of the pursued crafts by experts who could “make it happen,” and from those who have conquered their fears and pursued their dreams and become successful — either on the runway, small screen, big screen, or stage. Always receiving rave reviews, seminars such as “Guide For Getting Hired in Showbiz” by Peggy Lewis, “Models Act for the Camera” by Joan See of the New York School for Film and Television, “Petitie-Plus Seminar” with Amanda Paige and Joy Lynn Matthews, and the “Runway Seminar,” hosted by the vivacious Lu Celania Sierra, were must-attend events. Nothing beats learning your craft from a pro.
With all the competitions, critiquing, seminars, and camaraderie amongst school members from across the country, what else could possible top the week’s events? Call backs and agents meetings. Could it happen? Did it happen? With hearts pounding and palms quivering in excitement, the talent rattled the Waldorf=Astoria’s rafters with their squeals and shouts of euphoria as they eagerly received their call-back sheets and prepared for the one-on-one meetings with the show-business agents and managers who could make it happen. Would anyone truly realize the dream? The answer is simple… YES.
But before discovering one such person among several who had it happen, everyone attended the elegant awards banquet. Wearing their finest social occasion and evening gowns and suits or tuxedos, attendees quickly filled the Grand Ballroom of the Waldorf=Astoria to capacity, where MAAI executives announced the individual and school achievements in recognition of the outstanding performances for 2006.
With the accolades, awards, call-back sessions, and memories of a lifetime over until next year, we arrive back at our original question: Would it happen? At least in one case, the answer is “yes, it happened.” She’s not the only one, but she is one we watched. At the time of this writing, the Overall Female 18-21 winner, Tessa Victoria of the Smawley Agency, was discovered at the MAAI convention and is currently in Japan under the representation of World Top Tokyo — quite an accomplishment and feat of pursuing the dream to make it happen.
It happened to Tessa Victoria. It happened at MAAI. It could happen to you!
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