The entertainment industry can be a difficult prospect to conquer. However, literally hundreds of dream seekers traversed the world to attend the iPOP! Modeling and Talent Convention in Orlando, Florida, in search of fulfilling their dreams of working in the industry. But in addition to meeting with agents and scouts who could make those dreams a reality, a special recognition awaited two deserving individuals who would be named as Miss and Mr. iPOP!. The recognition is in addition to the plethora of awards presented at iPOP! and the titles represent an outstanding achievement during a special model search.
In a unique opportunity following the announcement of Miss and Mr. iPOP!, Abigaille Batu-Tiako and Cole Miller, took to the stage for their first photo shoot during a worldwide live-stream broadcast. After the convention, we had the opportunity to discuss their experiences.
Pageantry magazine: Describe the iPOP! experience for us.
Abigaille Batu-Tiako: Every day I was learning and improving! Not to mention networking! It was time consuming, but worth every second. Throughout the week, there was so much love and positivity. I really felt myself opening up and learning my craft. From the coaches to your directors, everyone wants to see you gain something from this experience. With that being said, the iPOP! experience is what you make of it, so interact, be bold, and have fun!
Cole Miller: My experience at iPOP! was unimaginable. Don’t get me wrong, the hotel was pretty nice, but the experience and opportunity I had was even better. I met a lot of people who I am still in contact with to this day, and they are all so supportive. It was also eye opening at the boot camps since they taught me a lot of new techniques and ways to build myself in both acting and modeling.
PM: How did you learn about the iPOP! convention?
AB: My mother agency told me about the package deal with iPOP! I saw an ad on social media and decided to apply. Later I got a follow up for an audition. I was then selected and I’ve been waiting for the iPOP! Orlando 2021 journey ever since last summer!
CM: I originally learned about iPOP! from my mother agent Bridgett Foster, who was also the one who pushed me to jump into this experience. I began doing a lot of research, which helped me realize iPOP! was one of the biggest agent showcases in the USA. After learning this, I started preparing immediately, trying to get a schedule down so I could balance my social life, model runway shows, and prepare for this huge event.
PM: iPOP! provides an enormous amount of opportunity. What events did you compete in while attending the showcase?
AB: Going into the week, I had no thoughts of what the outcome would look like. All I knew was I wanted to gain the most from this experience. I knew my strength was on the stage and runway, so I competed in modeling, and singing. I took gold in Division 1 runway and scored top three in three other awards.
CM: I competed in both modeling and acting. I had a lot of people back at home encouraging me and cheering me on which really helped with all the nerves. After I preformed, I felt great with how well I did, even with some of the top agents watching my every move.
PM: How long did you train before attending iPOP!?
AB: The singing portion of my career started ever since I was a child. I was always involved in music programs growing up, so I just wanted to explore my vocal talent for this competition. For the modeling portion of the convention, I was blessed to have the owner of Hilchey Photography take me in as their freelance model. They gave me my first real photo shoot experience and styled me.
CM: Believe it or not, I didn’t officially know I was going to iPOP! until a month or two before. During that time, I still had shows leading up to it and I had very little time to prepare. With hours of practice and lots of help from friends, it took me until around 2 weeks before the iPOP! event to be confident in my performance. Even the week of the event, I was non-stop practicing my monologue, commercial, and model walk.
PM: Name something you learned about the industry during iPOP! week?
AB: I learned to not get discouraged. Every agent is not going to want you and that’s okay! Keep your head up and don’t give up.
CM: I learned the industry isn’t just about how well you do, or how good you look. More importantly, it’s about what kind of person you are. You have to stay humble, always be mindful of who you are talking to and be yourself. This industry can break you down and it’s up to you to start building yourself back up.
PM: What is one thing you learned about yourself?
AB: I learned how determined I am. Ever since I was a kid, I knew I wanted to achieve the best life could offer. Once I have my mind set on the goal, I’m always trying my best to achieve it!
CM: I learned I can exceed my own expectations. I always thought I just had acting and modeling down naturally, like it was a part of me, but through the classes and meetings, they taught me there is always room for growth.
PM: Were you able to take advantage of the knowledge presented through all the seminars?
AB: Yes, so happy for the opportunity to listen, engage, and accept knowledge. It is always important to learn whatever you can, whenever you can.
CM: The seminars helped me realize acting isn’t just about believing you are a character, but it’s also imagining how that character reacts to other people. For example, in a monologue, it’s just you preforming, but your character could be talking to someone else, so you have to pause to add emphasis.
PM: What do the titles of Miss & Mr. iPOP! mean to you personally?
AB: This award means so much because it shows me something I didn’t see yet in myself. It helped me realize my potential and how far I can keep going in this industry. Truly an eye opener, and I am forever grateful to be this year’s Miss iPOP!
CM: It means so much more than I would’ve thought. This title and all the people who supported me made me realize I can be bigger in this industry and possibly even make this my career. Mr. iPOP! gave me the confidence to believe I can truly stand out from everyone else and be the best person I can be.
PM: How did you enjoy your live-stream photo shoot as Miss and Mr. iPOP!?
AB: Although there was a bit of improv, I was able to express myself with different poses and really showcase my abilities. I felt so comfortable with Mr. iPOP! I’m glad we were able to make some magic happen and get some amazing pictures!
CM: I loved it! I highly recommend meeting up with the other person beforehand just to get comfortable with each other and work on a few poses, so you are ready when you are streamed live from the iPOP! stage! It was also super easy to work with the photographer and since there was just one camera, I didn’t have to find multiple focus points. Also, Mr. Carl Dunn was extremely helpful guiding his hand to where I should look to get the best angle.
PM: What advice would you give to those who are looking into attending iPOP!?
AB: Confidence is key and don’t get discouraged! Work smart and come prepared! Everyone gets knocked down at some point, but what will separate you from the rest is your ability to get back up and try harder than you did before.
CM: Be yourself, more importantly be social. There were a lot of people I met at iPOP! who I’ll be friends with for a long time. Get friends who share the same dream, who will encourage you and even help you practice at 7:00 AM before you have to be at your spot. Lastly, stay humble, it doesn’t matter how many callbacks you get or how many people you talk to. At the end of the day, everyone can only have one modeling agent, one acting agent, one singing agent, and one dance agent. It only takes one to change the rest of your life, so you might as well be yourself and keep working hard.
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