Exclusive Interview With Sharon Quinn, Casting Producer for Mo’Nique’s F.A.T. Chance Paris

Sharon Quinn “The Original Runway Diva” began her career on the local circuit as a runway model in the 80’s when plus sizes were a rarity in fashion shows. In 1995 she signed on with the legendary Wilhelmina Modeling Agency in New York City and began a long and successful career with a client list that has included, The Avenue, Lane Bryant, Ashley Stewart, Bloomingdale’s & Nordstrom.

These days she is most often recognized as the 1st runner up on Mo’Nique’s F.A.T. Chance, the first nationally televised plus size beauty competition. During season 2 she served as the “den mother” for the models and this season Sharon is the Casting Producer for  Mo’Nique’s F.A.T. Chance Paris.

Sharon and I sat down for an exclusive behind the scenes interview about the show, modeling and what’s in store for this multi-talented beauty.

[Maddy] The question we most often hear is, “What type of women are they looking for at the castings for Mo’Niques Fat Chance?”

[Sharon] One thing people have to keep in mind is that in the end it’s about what makes good television. If it’s boring people are not going to watch. It does not matter whether you’re a ‘fixer upper ‘or stunningly beautiful, you need to have something to say so that it jumps out at the producers. They are looking for contestants that will keep people glued to what they are watching.

[Maddy] Are they looking for working plus size models for the show?

[Sharon] If you are already “there” they are not looking for you. If you have comp cards, books or any professional photos keep them in your bag because the minute you take them out the producers will feel like you are too polished and will not see the real you.

[Maddy] So what is the basic concept of the show?

[Sharon] There is a need in the plus size community for women to identify with the women that are chosen for the show. They want the women on the show to walk away with an empowering experience shared with millions of viewers. The viewers need to identify with these women and how they are feeling and their life experiences.

[Maddy] I know you have been in the modeling industry for a long time, how did we get to this point? Are you still amazed that a show like this is being aired?

[Sharon] I knew it was coming and I also knew it would take a celebrity to do it. Mo’Nique has broken down so many doors and busted them wide open so it’s perfectly logical that she would be able to sell this to a network. Now we just have to show the network that there is a need for it in this society so that it will continue to air.

[Maddy] What’s Mo’Nique like behind the scenes?

[Sharon] Mo’Nique is a lot like what you see on TV! I don’t think I have ever seen her “turn it off”. If you sit around her too long you will be sick from laughing so much. The comedy just comes out of her naturally – she finds humor in everything.

She’s very smart, opinionated and open minded. She will respect your views and opinion but it does not mean she will go with what you say. I want to say, “I want to be like her when I grow up,” but I’m actually older than her. I have learned a lot working with her and I admire her mantra. She is kind to everyone – you cannot work on her staff if you are not a kind person. I’ve seen her get rid of people for being rude. She does not tolerate that at all. Even at the height of her success she is still so approachable she will meet people and speak with you like she has known you all her life.

[Maddy] Many of us in the Modeling industry have experiences we have turned into passions and have discovered other ways to reach out to the plus size community. Where have your passions taken you?

[Sharon] My main motivation comes from walking around and meeting plus size women across the country that need support and encouragement. I like to speak to women — to help uplift them and encourage them to go after their dreams. I give seminars and speak about everything from how to get into the modeling industry to how to stay motivated in life as a plus size woman. My main focus for women is “you have to love you” at whatever size you are and not wait until you lose those pesky five pounds or one hundred pounds.

I’m also working on some other things to help get my face out there and bring my message of self love… I have two books in the works as well as a DVD — I’m working on it, it’s just that it all takes time so I don’t plan on going anywhere. Now that Mo’Nique has opened those doors for us, we have to step in and walk to the front and not be in the back any more.