From Tyra to Wilhelmina Model, Meet Cover Model Maggie

From Tyra to Wilhelmina Model, Meet Cover Model Maggie…

Our August 2007 PLUS Cover Model is a vivacious woman with the looks, drive and determination to make it to the top of the plus modeling world! We discovered this beauty last year when photographer Sita Edwards shared some shots, and it was her ‘reaching out’ that landed Maggie as our Spotlight Model for the November/December 2006 issue. Little did we know what was waiting around the corner for this aspiring plus model…

What a pleasure to share Maggie’s story…

[Maddy] For our readers who do not remember your “Tyra Show” debut tell us a little about it…

[Maggie] In November 2006, Tyra held her first ever “Thick and Sexy Top Model” contest. Tyra personally chose 6 girls from across the US who all were a size 18+ and weighed 200 pound to put to the test. We were given challenges that would test us to see if we had what it takes to be a top plus model. All the challenges were modeled after challenges given in cycle 7 of America’s Next Top Model. The challenges included an indoor skydiving shoot (my personal favorite), a hair challenge, a live commercial, and finally a romance novel cover shoot.

The guest judges included Ruben Studdard, Mia Tyler, and Josh Marrow.

As the winner of the Thick and Sexy Top Model Competition, I received a 1 year modeling contract with Wilhelmina Models, $1000 from Lane Bryant (which I put to good use right away!) and photo shoot for an editorial with Bombshell Magazine (coming out in the fall).

Being on Tyra’s show was an amazing experience! Tyra was absolutely fabulous and so hands-on in the whole production of our show. I absolutely adore her staff and producers, and have had the honor to work with her staff again on other projects as well!

The show provided the platform I needed to jump-start my modeling career. Since winning Tyra’s Thick and Sexy Top Model, I have signed with Wilhelmina Models and have had the opportunity to work with great companies like Torrid, Wal-mart, and Mervyns.

[Maddy] Before your Tyra show win, what steps you had taken towards becoming a plus size model?

[Maggie] I had always been curious about plus size modeling. In August 2006, a past schoolmate (who is a straight size model) contacted me on myspace and sent me a message telling me that I should model. I laughed and wrote her back saying “Okay, you tell me where to get started without spending a dime and I’ll do it.” (Thinking of course that she wouldn’t be able to do that.)

She wrote me back with a list of online resources which didn’t involve spending any money so I said to myself “Why not?” I posted a couple of snapshot pictures of myself online and was instantly contacted by local LA photographer Sita-Mae. The photo shoot with Sita was my first, and I found myself very lucky to work with her. She was a fountain of invaluable information. She taught me a lot about posing, being aware of my body, and how to work with my curves!

During our first photo shoot, Sita encouraged me to test with other photographers to make sure that I had a diverse portfolio and encouraged me to apply to different model searches. She sent me link after link to different plus modeling resources online and actually was the one who introduced me to PLUS Model Magazine.

After my first shoot I realized how much I didn’t know about the industry so I started to do a lot of research. I literally spent hours surfing the net and reading and looking at pictures… studying posing and facial expressions… I also started researching the different plus designers, their clothing lines and the models they used. I was amazed and excited at how extensive the “plus” industry had grown!

My research in plus modeling led me to researching photographers. Having the right photographer is really important and knowing how to shoot plus is a MUST!

About a month after my first photoshoot, I found a craigslist posting from the TYRA show for her plus modeling competition and thought “Sure, why not?” and sent my pictures in and got a call back the next day!

[Maddy] As a Wilhelmina model how has life changed for you?

[Maggie] Life has definitely changed for the better! At first, it was a huge challenge to balance my full-time job as a teacher and modeling. Life as a model can be very spontaneous. There are times where you will know you have a booking a week in advance and other times you might get a call at 6pm and have to fly out at 8am the next morning. I’ve learned to be very flexible and patient all at the same time.

It has been a huge blessing to be able to share my experiences with my students. They are always curious about the industry and asking me where did I go and who did I meet.

I’m thankful for all the opportunities that have been given to me through being signed with Wilhelmina. I’ve met and worked with some amazing talent and am looking forward to seeing what the future will continue to bring.

[Maddy] How important is testing, in your opinion, when you are trying to make it as a model?

[Maggie] Testing is SO important. One of the main ways you book clients is off of your portfolio.

Modeling is about being you. You want to make sure that your book represents you accurately and naturally. In a sense, to be a model is to be a canvas on which any client can paint their look.

One of the biggest misconceptions that I made when I first got started was I thought modeling was all about being “glamorous”. My first few tests which were TFCD involved a lot of makeup, big hair, and colorful outfits… (I chuckle when I think about it now…LOL)

TFCD is a great way to get camera time, and to practice your poses, and facial expressions. I would encourage girls who are first starting out to find a couple of good photographers to shoot with on a TFCD basis to practice… and you never know you might get some great shots that you can use for you book as well.

It’s important to keep your portfolio fresh and up to date with current fashion trends. Who you test with is just as important as the test itself. Agencies will have a list of photographers they use on a regular basis who will be able to give you what you need for your book. This can get very expensive but it is an investment into your career. And again, make sure you do your research. Just because an agency recommends them doesn’t mean you’ll get great pictures… make sure you know what you want out of your shoot and go prepared!

[Maddy] What is your advice to aspiring plus size models?

[Maggie] Study, Study, Study… you are only as prepared as the information that you have. Know your client, know your agency, and know what is expected of you and how to present yourself. Understand that it is a business, and don’t take rejection personally. If you submit to an agency and they send you that “Thanks but you’re not the look we are looking for now,” submit again in 3-4 months! You just never know when you might be “the look”.

Also don’t be afraid to ask questions! The worst they can do is not answer you… and if that’s the case, move on and ask someone else. It’s all about growing and learning. There is so much to learn in this industry.

[Maddy] What plus size models do you admire and why?

[Maggie] I absolutely adore Emme. She is the epitome of plus size fashion. She is the first plus size model that I ever saw and I was so captivated by her. I admired that she brought a sense of “normalcy” to modeling not only when we talk about size, but about life in general with her many published books. Emme continued to “break the mold” in the fashion industry when she inspired the Tonner Doll Company to manufacture the “Emme” doll. She has done amazing work with different charities and causes that deal with self-esteem and various disorders. She is well educated and gives lectures on self-esteem and body issues anywhere from prestigious universities such as Yale or Harvard to middle schools and high schools across the US. She continues to be inspiration to me and I hope to make a positive impact on the world as she has.

I also had the honor to meet and work with some amazing women. Ivory, Melissa and Sage have been wonderful and I want to thank them for being so kind and patient to answer all my questions. These are the women whose careers I have followed and admired for a while, and to have the opportunity to work along side them is such a blessing!

[Maddy] We have seen you appear on the Torridsite a few times… tell me about your experience in working with them.

[Maggie] I absolutely love working for Torrid! They have a great team in the photo department. They always have a great vibe going with their staff and great music 🙂 Michael Anthony is an amazing photographer and fun to work with. The clothing is amazing and fits like a glove! Torrid knows how to work with your curves! I love that their clothing is sexy, fun, and playful… they truly understand the plus girl’s body and how to work with the curves we’ve got!

It’s been a honor to work with them and I hope to continue to work with Torrid for a very long time 🙂

Fun Facts about Maggie:

1) If I was not a model I would be a professional fly fisherman.
2) My favorite type of music is anything you can dance to!
3) My favorite color is blue.
4) My dream modeling job is LANE BRYANT
5) Favorite dessert is cheesecake
6) Beauty product I cannot live without, Dermalogica Active Moist moisturizer.

Photo Credits:
Photographer, Frank Wise
MUA, Victoria Arnold