about me werk.

The Ember Grey Tell-All, Vol. 2

February 10, 2015

When did you start modeling?

I started modeling when I was 16, but signed with my dream agency, Elite Model Management, my senior year of college. The very first job I booked landed me on numerous billboards, print, a commercial, and a runway show in NYC. Ironically, while it had taken me 6 years to grow out my hair as long as I’d ever had it, this first booked job also entailed dyeing it red and cutting it the shortest I’d ever had it. It was the first (and only) time I cried over my hair. I’d waited until I was by myself… walking down Mag Mile, calling my mom and crying, “It’s so short though! I can feel the back of my neck!” Of course, finding out I’d get billboards and a free trip to NYC out of the deal, not to mention an actual paycheck, eased the pain πŸ˜‰ 

 
The beginning of my modeling career was incredibly exciting. I’d wanted to model for Elite since I was young and I was finally living out my dream. I got to work with some amazing, amazing creatives- photographers, directors, and often times well-known companies/brands – and I really felt I was able to express myself in a new, creative way. I’d never desired to be in the spotlight and was never ‘that person’ who wanted to be the center of attention, let alone the attention of complete strangers – but I felt really comfortable in front of the camera. I loved feeling like I could become someone else when I was in front of the camera – I became the clothes, the makeup, the hair, and the feel of the vision desired by the directors. And in the rare times the photographer or director actually took the time to explain his vision and let me do my thing to find it too? It was, hands down, my most favorite part of modeling.
 
I learned how to take care of my skin, my hair, and the importance of wearing sunscreen and really just staying out of the sun. (Freckles were not ‘in’ back then.) I learned how to be outgoing (I had always been somewhat shy) and how to fake a smile when I wasn’t feeling well. (There was one shoot where I was suffering from the flu… no one knew except the stylist, who held the bucket for me as I’d come back to change. Gross, I know!)
It was also during this time that I gained thicker skin. Back then it didn’t always feel this way, but later on and especially looking back now I know it to be true. While I was booking quite a few jobs and feeling “successful” as a model, there were also a lot of ‘no’s’. In the beginning, it was normal for me to come home from a go-see (casting) and beat myself up for not having gotten the gig. In the beginning it was easy to look around the room while waiting at a go-see and compare myself- my hair, my face, my body – to the other models waiting in the room with me. I had to learn to not take the ‘no’s’ personally, and then even when I did book a job, I had to learn to take constructive criticism (and then sometimes just plain ol’ criticism) while in front of the camera. 
 

Why did you quit modeling?
Did you notice anything about the pictures above? My Grandma would say, “You’re too skinny!” and in my personal opinion, she would be right. I certainly was not living a healthy lifestyle, and what’s more is that my agent (read: not agency as a whole) continued to remind me to keep working out and ‘really watch’ what I ate – literally every time I walked into the agency. (I will note, that person is no longer working for the agency.) A little over a year went by but the final straw would be one horrific shoot that involved the photographer receiving the incorrect body measurement information from my agency and chewing me out in front of his team for not fitting into the pants he wanted me to wear. So instead of just not putting me into the shot, he grabbed a pair of scissors, cut out the butt of the pants, and handed them back to me saying, “Make them fit.” And that was when I left the ‘professional modeling world.’ I will also note that I had not told my agency about this incident (I honestly don’t know what would’ve happened, if anything) because in my heart, I no longer wanted to model. At least not that way. 
A few years later, I randomly met a fashion photographer at a party and he asked me if I’d ever be interested in a ‘collaboration shoot’ – aka: he wanted to build his book but could not pay me, except with the pictures he’d take. I told him ABSOLUTELY and the two of us worked together on quite a few things that next year. We worked together on each shoot, and it was fun.

 
I’m not against modeling by any means. In fact, I would actually be open to going back to it one of these days – but it would have to be with an agency who embraces curves πŸ˜‰ 

Were there any random celeb interactions during your modeling days?

While I did meet some actors as well as famous designers and other models, my favorite story is this: back in high school, my mom and I were in the waiting room at the eye doctor. We were flipping through a magazine together and came across a male model who we both agreed (for like 20 straight minutes) was completely gorgeous. I ended up tearing that page out of the magazine and putting the picture into a keepsake box, really for the funny memory it held of my mom and me going gaga over a male model. Fast forward years later when I was waiting for a male model who would be working with me on a bridal shoot. And wouldn’t you know… who walked in but Mr. Completely Gorgeous Male Model from the magazine. That was one hilarious phone call to my mom later that evening!
You asked, I answered! Check back in a few weeks for Vol. 3 of the EG Tell-All! πŸ™‚
Need to catch up? Check out Vol. One

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  • Girl, you remind me of Kate Moss. Not a fan of hers but I'm a fan of you πŸ˜€

  • This is such a great insight into modelling! Thanks for sharing your experiences.

  • You my friend are gorgeous!!! I can't imagine the "modeling" world!! sounds scary and exciting at the same time!

  • This is so interesting, and those pictures are stunning! But of course I already knew that you were gorgeous. πŸ™‚

  • These pictures are stunning! I'm so glad you made the decision to be healthy and happy over staying in a world that made you uncomfortable and stressed. It's so great that you're doing what you love on your terms!

  • Thank you for sharing this πŸ™‚ I just love your heart. You are definitely beautiful and such a great model, but I loved reading about your heart through all of it. I couldn't have handled it…I'd cry all the time :-p You are such a genuine person!

  • It takes a lot of courage to walk away from what was once your 'dream'. I had to pick my jaw up off of the desk after reading about the guy cutting the butt out of the trousers. Shocking.

    I went to a modeling school, did the runway show, go-sees and was told that my ears stuck out too far and that I didn't have the 'right' body or height for modeling. Crushed me. But after having seen 2 fellow models eat a yogurt and cotton balls (yes, cotton balls) as their only meal over a 24 hour period, I decided that it wasn't the right world for me anyway.

    Here's to having the confidence to make your own choices and knowing when to say 'no'. xx

    V
    Life+1

  • That is so neat that you modeled! And the camera loves ya! I'm really proud of you though for standing up for yourself in a tough situation, and demanding that you deserve to be treated better. You go girl!

  • Wow. What an interesting background you have. I can't imagine the pressures of working with an agent like that. It's admirable you were able to walk away and hold your head high. Side note: my mom and I went to NYC when I was 13 and she personally walked into Elite and handed them some random photos of me and my sisters (not at all professionally taken). The waiting room was filled with so many beautiful and interestingly-dressed people…and I was in scrubby jeans with braces and a weird haircut (oh, the awkward years). I was so embarrassed, and of course they probably just tossed the photos in the trash as soon as we left. haha.

  • So interesting. I can't believe the story about the pants (I mean, I can believe but I am so mad on your behalf!). There are some beautiful photos here and I am glad you see the good (that you built tough skin, etc) but that you saw and were strong enough to walk away when it was time. I loved hearing more about this time in your life.

  • You are definitely a very photogenic person! So many of my friends told me I should model my whole life but I was never that type of girl. I was more into sports and books, then makeup and clothes. lol! I also wouldn't have been able to handle people telling me what I could and couldn't eat. I LOVE to eat. haha! I've always been very thin without trying tho.

  • First off, these are gorgeous pictures! You go girl! Second I can't believe that guy with the pants! So rude and wrong! You are beautiful person inside and out and these pictures really show that! I led reading this! That story about the male model is hilarious..I would have had a hard time keeping it together. πŸ™‚

  • Thank you, lady! And yes- I had a really hard time laughing as he and I literally played Husband and Wife in the shoot. I just kept thinking, 'if my mom could see me now!!!' haha!! πŸ˜‰

  • I definitely take that as a compliment, Patricia!! πŸ™‚ Kate Moss is, hands down, my favorite model πŸ˜‰

  • Thanks for reading, Llinos! It was fun to remember back and share πŸ™‚

  • Thanks, Liz πŸ™‚ I have so many other stories, it was hard to choose only a few for the sake of the length of this post πŸ˜‰ It was an exciting time!

  • haha!! That's the perfect way to describe it- scary and exciting. It totally was! (thank you, Megan) πŸ™‚

  • aw, Christine. Blushing over here!

  • It was an easy decision to make (especially after that disaster of a shoot) but I do miss it some days πŸ˜‰ (Not when I'm eating pasta and donuts though, haha)

  • Gosh, thank you Kelli! This note from you really touched me. (Trust me, there were plenty of tears shed in the beginning of my modeling days, when I was still figuring it all out.)

  • LOVE this! I think it's so cool that you modeled. It's a good life experience and something to look back on & tell your kids about later in life. You're such a natural beauty! I'm glad you walked when you did though and didn't get sucked into the force of being "model thin" you're gorgeous just the way you are! xoxo

  • The decision to leave felt pretty impulsive after that shoot because I literally did just walk out, so the months afterwards were pretty sad, even though I knew I'd made the right decision πŸ˜‰ (Yeah… there were more details about that guy who cut out the butt of the pants… including something similar to the cotton balls – obviously with someone else, not me. It truly was a horrible experience.) It was a crazy and scary world at times – I NEVER went to the parties because I just didn't want to be associated with all of the details.

    Cheers to confidence, V, and for beauty within! XO!!

  • Thanks, Kel πŸ™‚ I'd always said I'd do it until it wasn't fun anymore. Getting the butt of your pants cut out in front of 15 other people definitely sucked the fun right out πŸ˜‰

  • Good for your mom! That's awesome, haha. I would've been in the same boat had I gone to Elite when I was in high school. By the time I signed with them, I was considered to be "old"….. senior in college!

  • oh, Nina… the entire day was just crazy and unbelievable. It was such a heartbreaker to end the adventure on a note like that, and I try to remember the fun times I had instead πŸ™‚

  • I remember going to a wedding a few months after I'd quit modeling and eating a piece of wedding cake… it was the first time in A LONG TIME I'd eaten something like that and I kept saying, "THIS IS SO GOOD!" haha πŸ˜‰

  • What an incredible read! I loved seeing the ins and outs of the modeling industry. I Guess I'm a latecomer to the blog because I had no idea you were a model, which made it extra fascinating. Anxiously awaiting the last installment!

    http://www.hollandsreverie.blogspot.com

  • SO fascinating! I love all of your pictures, absolutely gorgeous. It makes me sad that you were told to "watch what you eat" when there was no reason for that. And the pants story? I don't know how you didn't just cut up the entire thing in protest!

  • I realyyyy loved this post, Em. You look so stunning in those photos but I'm so happy you're living a happy and healthy lifestyle now πŸ™‚

  • Wow, this was such a great post Em! I had no idea that you used to be a model, and your model photography is gorgeous! It sounds like you left the industry when you knew it was no longer right for you, and BIG kudos on that! That pants story made my eyebrows rise up immediately… that man was lucky he didn't get a smack for being so rude!

  • Ah! You are so courageous! I can't even begin to imagine what it must have been like to go through all of that. Like you said, you may have not completely known it then, but what you did shows that you definitely knew you were worth more than how you were being treated. You are so admirable, absolutely phenomenal!

  • look at you work it! I love that you knew when enough was enough. I'm sure it can be hard in those times. I can understand that some models are blind to what is really going on but I'm glad you knew and you did it because you enjoyed it. You're an inspiration, inside and out you are gorgeous.

  • I'm excited to show my "book" to my kids someday, totally. Thank you, friend!! xoxo!

  • Thanks, Chelsea! πŸ™‚ I could have shared so many other stories but was trying to keep it short πŸ˜‰ Thanks for stopping by!!

  • hahaha!!!! That's hilarious, could you imagine?! He wouldn't have known what hit him! πŸ˜‰

  • aw, thanks Cass πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ (Yes, I'm happy to be eating FOOD again, fo sho!)

  • Thank you! πŸ™‚ I know it… I think I was just in so much shock (there were other things that had already happened on that shoot that were not good so when this happened, I just grabbed my purse and walked out.)

  • This is so sweet, thanks Shayne! I learned a lot in that time and definitely don't regret it in the slightest.

  • aw, thank you Kenj! I think some models simply choose that lifestyle for awhile because at times the fun outweighs the stress, but I think I'd just come to the end of the road πŸ™‚

  • Emily — the girl with nine lives! You are working it but I'm glad you bowed out when you felt the time was right.

  • haha! πŸ˜‰

  • I always knew you were beautiful (inside and out) and love that you walked away after being treated like that. That say so much about you. I'm glad you recognized that you didn't deserve to be treated that way. XO

  • Wow I had no idea you were a former model, you are beautiful!!

  • Elite! That's so cool. Some of the pictures I've seen of you I've thought, "Wow, that girl knows how to smize like a champ!" Little did I know. πŸ™‚ I'm sure you have tons of great stories.

  • It's definitely a compliment!

  • WOWZEER! LADY, you were rocking it! And mean people suck.

  • Wow! I didn't realize all of that! I can imagine that it would be hard. I'm glad you knew when it was right for you to step away πŸ™‚

  • I really enjoyed this post. I am glad you found a healthy way out of an unhealthy situation with that crazy pants guy! Gosh the things people think they can do to others. Love seeing all your photos btw

  • Amazing to see these shots of you! And so interesting to hear the history of your modeling career – wow chickie you have one fascinating story! I love that you modeled with the hunk whose ad you tore out πŸ™‚ I would have died and turned bright red I'm sure lol. PS I'm so glad that you kept your self esteem through it and quit when you were treated rubbish at that shoot. You rock!!

  • How in the world have I completely missed the fact that you were a model? I feel like a horrible friend! We should live closer to each other and have coffee on a regular basis so I can get to know you better and not miss things…like the fact that you were a model!!! I am not even surprised because you are drop dead gorgeous..but I am so very proud of you for staying true to yourself.

  • Katherine Lacabe

    It was so nice to read this! I didn't know you were a model! It was great getting to know this part of your life! I hope you do get to do some more modeling!!

  • Dang, you are so pretty!! But yes, skinny in some of those photos. I prefer curves. πŸ™‚

  • πŸ™‚ Thank you, friend. XO

  • Thank you, Whitney! πŸ™‚ It was a fun time (most of the time, haha)

  • haha!!! Ohhh yes. TONS of stories… this post could be a million pages long πŸ˜‰

  • haha, they do, don't they?! Fortunately I met and worked with more good people than mean, but sometimes all it takes is a few to sour the deal!

  • In the moment it was easy to walk away, but I had to keep reminding myself of that situation (and others) in the months after because I was missing it for sure!

  • Thanks, Erica πŸ™‚ While I'm sure there are rotten people everywhere, they seemed to really flock to that industry, that's for sure! ha!

  • The most hilarious thing about that shoot with the hunk was that we were LITERALLY posing as husband and wife. I begged the company for copies but wasn't able to get any, haha. So badly I wanted to be like, "Here, Mom. Add this to our collection." hahaha πŸ˜‰

  • oh, you didn't miss anything, Jamie! I've only mentioned it a few other times. It wasn't something I talked a lot about πŸ˜‰ But YEAH! I wished we lived closer too!!! πŸ™‚

  • It was fun to go back and think about to share! πŸ™‚ Glad you enjoyed it, Katherine!

  • aw! πŸ™‚ Thanks, Steph. (Yeah, I prefer FOOD. hahah)

  • Ha! I prefer food, too! Lots of food.

  • Em, you are stunning! I'm glad you decided to adopt a more healthy lifestyle though πŸ™‚ Health > Skinny! How brave of you to pursue this dream though! Fashion critics can be so awful!

  • Katie @ A Beautiful Little Adv

    Beautiful shots! What a fun history you have and a great experience. But I'm glad you followed your heart (and gut) and stepped away when you knew it was right.

  • Gorgeous photos! What a fun part of your life! When you have a daughter, she's going to love to look at these pics and hear your stories! πŸ™‚

  • My favorite part of this comment from you is "*When* you have a daughter"… like there's no question πŸ™‚ Makes my heart so happy!

  • Thanks, Katie! πŸ™‚

  • Thank you, Amanda πŸ™‚ XO

  • Such beautiful photos! What a fun experience to have. It so important to choose being in good health and not focus on the size. I'm enjoying your Tell-all series. πŸ™‚

  • well it's just because I can't wait for that day!! πŸ˜‰

  • chall1018

    Loving these posts, Emily! And the photos are amazing. You’re
    gorgeous! And I admire your strength for walking out when that agent handed you
    the buttless pants! Gracious! And what an awesome story to tell (about the male
    model)!

  • Thank you, Felecia! Vol. 3 next week! πŸ™‚

  • Thank you, Crystal πŸ™‚ It's been fun answering the q's and sharing some of the more random parts haha.

  • So beautiful! I had no idea!

  • Thanks, Shane! πŸ™‚ It was fun to share!