"During our casting for the "Big Fashion Show", Sandy Bass from Bass international had them stop the music, when I wasn't even half way down the runway. In my mind I was just thinking, to keep going- do your thing. Then she gets on the microphone and in front of over a thousand models told everyone that they should be watching me. She critiqued every bit of my walk, then ended by saying "THIS is how you walk. THIS is High Fashion."
Two years ago, Melissa was sitting in a hospital bed, wondering when she would be able to resume doing what she loved, which at that stage was dancing. But it encouraged her to pursue a new life passion- modelling. And she hasn't looked back - Melissa has found her way in modelling in the space of just two years. But she recognises that it is a never-ending journey that takes its twists and turns, and requires a lot of hard work to get to your end goal.
It is so clear from Melissa's interview that she doesn't take anything for granted - she is so dedicated and committed in everything she does. Melissa is so down to earth, and we were blown away by how many stories she was willing to share with us. Readers, eat your heart our with Melissa's interview - she has really opened up about her journey, and we are sure you will enjoy reading it.
Tell us about yourself: Why do you want to work as a model? Why are you interested in modelling as a career?
Well, I have danced for my entire life, I was even training at one of the Top Dance Conservatories in New York. But had to come back, due to my left ankle betraying me. Two surgeries later, 4 bone spurs removed, an ostragonum that broke off and shattered, cleaned out the joint that was over flowing with scar tissue, and then found cartilage missing- causing the doctors to have to do a micro fracturing. That changed my recovery time from 7 weeks to over a year. About 7 months into the recovery, I was getting so frustrated with people telling me what I can't do, which could have led to two things... 1) knowing me, I would try to prove them wrong and end up injuring myself more, or 2) change that mindset by asking myself "well then, what CAN I do?"
I had often been told that I should model, but I just brushed it off as someone trying to be sweet. But my need to be a part of art was bursting, so I decided why not? I'll go to a shoot, if I suck, then I suck... Well, after that shoot the photographer said "In three days you are going to come with me to a fashion show." There he started introducing me to the people in the "Portland world of fashion". And we continued to do spontaneous shoots, and I loved every minute of it. I walked in my first show about a month into it, and have been perfecting my walk ever since. (On a side not, I literally study modeling. I have a notebook which I bring with me to every shoot and show, and write down all of my corrections/anything notable that I was told. I even put a piece of electrical tape across our garage, and filmed myself walking. I study Shows from the world's top fashion weeks... etc.).
I was given a scholarship to attend the IMTA LA Finals. The first day, during our casting for the "Big Fashion Show", Sandy Bass from Bass international had them stop the music, when I wasn't even half way down the runway. In my mind I was just thinking, to keep going- do your thing. Then she gets on the microphone and in front of over a thousand models told everyone that they should be watching me. She critiqued every bit of my walk, then ended by saying "THIS is how you walk. THIS is High Fashion." I was beyond honored and extremely shocked, that I even looked behind me as I was exiting the stage because I did not believe she was talking about me. hahah! At this event there were a lot of agencies scouting. I caught the eyes of many NY agencies, a London agency, one in Canada, an international placement agency, and others. ... I haven't saught representation at all. I've been doing this on my own... But something that I was told is that they wanted me to be signed first. The only suitable option for me was the only agency in Oregon that I am interested in.
Right now I'm trying to make my book SOLID, so that when I go in, I don't want to just be considered to be another name on their wall, but to show them that I am diverse, and am ready to be sent to work in NY and internationally.
*I have not given up on dance, But I have found that similarities between the two, and use my dance training in my modeling. I can twist and move my body in ways that make for awesome shots, and I like to be creative with my surroundings. Some see a wall and just stand in front of it... I look at that wall, and search for ways I can use it and make it something.
How important is modelling education: Have you attended modelling courses? What related courses or studies have you taken?
I do believe that modeling education is very important. As I had said, I literally study modeling. I have a notebook I bring with me to every shoot and show, and write down all of my corrections/anything notable that I was told. I even put a piece of electrical tape across our garage, and filmed myself walking. I study Shows from the world's top fashion weeks... etc. I also took many wonderful workshops at IMTA, that were very informative. I believe in making things your own. I personally thrive from constructive criticism, and encourage it. How else is one supposed to learn. And to be given constructive criticism is not a bad thing, it is a wonderful thing. It means that whomever you are working with believes in you and knows that their time and advice will not be wasted on you.
What do you think makes someone “fit” to be a model?
Having a strong sense of self.
What are your goals as a model? How do you see yourself progressing in this field?
My goals are to be an international print and runway model. I hate to say this, but I do feel very limited by my surroundings. I just don't know how to get from point A to point B.
What do you know about the advertisement industry, advertising psychology and photography?
I have grown up being taught about sales and marketing. I have had training in both. Photography is also a hobby of mine. I also love working with photographers and really try to learn and understand all that they know. And I must say, I have learned a lot.
How do you communicate with people? Are you patient? Are you friendly? How open are you to clients’ requirements?
All of the above. I am a very understanding, open minded, creative, and respectful individual. I have the mind of an artist.
Do you eat nutritiously? How often do you exercise or go to the gym?
Absolutely. This is the only body I have. It is my instrument, how I express myself best. I take my health very seriously. I dance, and have the equipment at home to do my exercises and stretching daily.
What is your dream role as a model?
There is no limit.
Do you have any limitations? How do you define your boundaries when choosing to accept a modelling request?
I believe in staying true to one's self. I know how to hold my own, and am strong in my morals. I find the human body to be one of the most beautiful things. That does not mean I will just take my clothes off at anyone's request. That is disgusting. I believe that whatever it may be, it must be professional and tastefully done. It must make sense as a necessity.
State your availability: Would you travel? Work full-time, part-time? Any hours?
I will absolutely travel, and am open to most hours.