Lisa Scott is bubbly, personable and the friend we would all want to have in our lives.
I believe it’s her personality coupled with her passion for modeling that has made her one of today’s most successful plus size models.
[Maddy] How did you get started in the modeling industry?
[Lisa] I got started through an advertisement in the NY Daily newspaper for Big Beauty Agency in NY. (Please don’t ever answer ads in papers girls… I was young and crazy) The owner Mary Duffy didn’t sign me, but from that casting I met other girls who told me about another plus model agency called Plus Models in NY. I went there a few days later and was met by a secretary in the front waiting room. She asked to see my pictures, which were some snap shots from my high school graduation, and she told me I should consider getting a nose job and then come back. I chuckled to myself as I took my pictures back and tried to keep from laughing aloud. Even at the age of 17 I knew she was power “tripping” at being able to cut girls down and the last thing I needed or was going to get was a nose job. I left saying to myself I will never, ever pursue this crap again and subject myself to being so insulted.
On the way downstairs I ran into a woman who asked me was I leaving from the agency upstairs. I said yes and she asked to see my pictures. She told me to come back upstairs with her and I followed her to her back room office and watched the secretary shoot daggers through me. I felt like sticking out my tongue at her. Anyway the lady was Pat Swift who owned and operated Plus Models, an agency to some of the most successful models of that era including Emme, Catherine Schuller and Susan Bishop, who is the most successful fit model in the business signed with Ford Models today. Pat proceeded to pick up the phone and call client after client telling them she just discovered the most amazing girl with almond shaped eyes and full lips. In a matter of minutes I went from big nose to exotic beauty. To sum it up… it’s all perception, another man’s trash is another man’s treasure.
[Maddy] WOW! What a story!! Did Pat send you to test for proper photos? Did she officially sign you?
[Lisa] It was a surreal moment that I will never forget! When she sent me to test (I hadn’t a clue what a test was, I just knew I was doing it) and came back to her, I was told that she would get back to me. I did exactly what she said… I set up a test appointment with Butler Studios, at that time it was like a big factory house, they had all sorts of clothes and costumes and you were told what to wear. They also took care of makeup and hair the way they wanted and photographed you. I really don’t have much memory of that day I just have the pictures to know I was there. I went back to Plus Model Agency, I thought I was the next big thing from what the owner told me, so I had already bought a portfolio and had some of the shots blown up to 8 x 10 size. I was ready to go! It had to be less than 2 weeks and the owner who told me all those great things really didn’t remember who I was, but she took my book and said my test was great and gave me my 1st contract. And from there it began.
[Maddy] How important was researching the industry to your development as a model?
[Lisa] Back then there was nothing to research, the internet was not available. The girls who were working weren’t particularly friendly and were sort of in their own circle. The owner of the agency was determined to make her agency successful so she had evening classes about once a month on what was expected of you as a model. That is why I still carry a robe with me to this day to get my makeup done and to change at photo shoots. She taught us that along with having the right model’s bag a model should be prepared with proper attire. It was invaluable info to a new model like me who was totally clueless.
Back then there were tons of go-sees; remember there were no online portfolios to see the models so “you” were your best representation and that is why I still dress up sometimes even though it is not necessary when I go to castings or go-sees. Back then I was told to wear heels since I am only 5’8 1/2 and since I was so young, the models I looked up to were in there 20’s and dressed very professional so I tried to fit in.
[Maddy] When and why did you decide to go into commercial modeling?
[Lisa] I never made the decision to go into commercial modeling I just made the decision I wanted to act. So I took acting lessons for 6 months, started doing tons of off-Broadway stuff with a company and started getting my feet wet. However I had already booked several commercials like Just My Size, Chic Jeans and Delta Burke through Plus models and Ford Models. But I didn’t get the acting bug until about 4 years ago. That’s when I really got serious about class and private coaching. The classes gave me a lot of confidence and enabled me to book really big jobs like Crystal Light and Alli. Crystal Light was such a huge deal in terms of the behind the scene production that it prompted me to go into acting full-time.
[Maddy] What about fit and print work? After so many years do you still work in these fields?
[Lisa] I still get print work and I still do a little fit work. I have never had a lot of clients, only a few at a time that consistently book me. I pride myself on not being a ‘1-hit wonder’. Remember girls, you know you are on the right track when the client wants you again and again.
[Maddy] Do you have anything coming up where we may see you?
[Lisa] I have a diabetes ad coming out in the fall. Now let me prepare you… they wanted me to look older so I might look like grandma Lisa in the ads but all I can say is ca-ching, ca-ching! I’m an actress so I cannot be uptight about looking older. Commercial Print is a great paycheck and this is a business for me. I went to the doctor the other day and they had my pamphlets at the counter for Paraguard birth control… that was fun.
[Maddy] Has it been easy for you obtaining an agency that will take your acting passion seriously?
[Lisa] I’m still trying to find the right agent that will work with me on a level past being a plus actress and just an actress period. This is extremely difficult. They only call you when the casting is for a person to be plus or overweight. This business is so obsessed with seeing thinness on TV. When I’m in LA my size 4 girl-friend goes on 20 castings a month… I might go on one or two if I’m lucky.
[Maddy] How has the internet helped to change the industry your eyes?
[Lisa] Thank God for the Internet! I’m so crazy-busy with my family, I’m probably one of the only people happy about not going on castings since I live outside the city. I’m not signed to any agency in NY, so I don’t get go-see’s, I market myself.
There are plus and negatives to marketing yourself. I’m not very ambitious; I take a very holistic approach to life that if it’s meant for me I will get it. I do try and stay current on head-shots and comp-cards since you have to have the right materials to market yourself. Many people say the business is slow because of the economy which is true but having been in this business for two decades, I see the growth and it has grown to be tremendous with the online magazines such as PLUS Model Magazine and the plus size designers like Monif who have been successful and opened stores. At one point the most popular jobs were circulars and catalogs and now to see campaigns, Vogue covers, editorials and plus models competing and winning on TV shows is a huge change.
I think the plus model world is now exploding and becoming a must-see and must-have. Also we have so many wonderful plus size superstars to watch… Queen Latifah, Jill Scott, Jennifer Hudson and I still say Oprah even though she’s only plus every now and then. ?
[Maddy] What is your advice to aspiring models?
[Lisa] My advice to aspiring models is to be prepared and ready to invest in yourself if you really want this. If you are not truly prepared mentally for the rejection, initial financial start up cost (testing) and physical demands, I say come back to modeling when you are. I see girls get stuck because they are really on the fence on spending money on professional pictures.
Another piece of advice is to stop wanting to be Crystal Renn. Find your niche and work it! Fill your own shoes not someone else’s. There are many lucrative areas of this business… GET in where you FIT in.
Fun facts about Lisa Scott:
1) I was born in Brooklyn, NY
2) My favorite type of Music is the old school rap like Biggie Smalls, Foxy Brown, Lil Kim, and real singers like Luther, Rueben, Beyonce, Jaheim, Jill, India Arie, Robin Thicke… and I just discovered I like this new reggae artist named Tanya Stevens.
3) Person I admire the most is mother because of her integrity
4) Chocolate or Vanilla? Chocolate… now I want some chocolate ice cream. Seriously I am on my way out to get some chocolate Häagen Dazs® right now
5) Movie I have watched over 20 times is – I have never watched a movie more than twice. I don’t know how people do that.