"Here", the photographer said as he slid my portfolio back across the table.
"Really?", I thought. He didn't even look up. How could I break my neck to get here, learning new streets, taking the hot subway just to get here on time and this photographer doesn't even look at me?
I was on a go see. That was what breaking into modeling was like when I first started that hot summer in New York City over 32 years ago. I had grown up in a small town. I was successful in most everything I put my hand to. I was in the band, honor society, a church youth group and the swim team. I swam 5 1/2 hours a day and still found time to make great grades in school. I was a people pleaser. I found value in my performance. i enjoyed doing things to the best of my ability and I had been successful....until now.
What was wrong with me? I was 18, in New York City alone trying to fit into a job that I never dreamed of doing. A job that others would die for. I thought I had my life planned out. I was accepted into the pharmacy program at University of Rhode Island in the fall of my senior year.
Now here I was, all hot and sweaty finding my way around NYC this summer I graduated high school while all my friends were laughing, partying and having a stress free summer before college. They weren't counting calories or worrying about their looks. They weren't lost in the Big Apple, trying to find their way in a new job that they didn't even want. What was I doing? Most days, I felt depressed, lonely, isolated and hungry.
Don't get my wrong. I was blessed; I just didn't feel it some days back then. It was hard, lonely work. I would have days where the agency would send me on "go sees" all day. I would have a list of addresses to find and a certain time to show up. Go sees were a way to get jobs but after walking the streets, taking subways and taxis just to get to a certain studio, I would find it hard to look good. I would go from studio to studio. Some were nice others were really busy. As I walked into studios, I never really knew who was important, who I should talk to. Each studio was different. Some had models all made up on set, looking cool and collected as I stood there waiting, feeling harried and very much an outsider. I fought the feeling of rejection a lot back then. My day could be ruined from a bad reaction to my portfolio. Was it me? Do I belong here? Funny enough, some of the rudest people, the ones the didn't look me in the eye, were the very ones who booked me while the ones who spent time talking and laughing with me didn't necessarily mean future work.
For more on my modeling story you can purchase my book, "A Model for a Better Future" available on Amazon.