Mia Amber… Updates on Ashley Stewart, Project Curves and the JDMS
Mia Amber… Updates on Ashley Stewart, Project Curves and the JDMS…
Readers… don’t miss this illuminating interview with PLUS Creative Editor-at-Large, Mia Amber Davis.
[Maddy] Most people recognize you from your most recent campaigns with Ashley Stewart and the most recent Butterfly Bra campaign. Tell me about touring with Jill Scott to promote the Butterfly Bra and how wonderful it was to represent such a great undergarment made just for “us”.
[Mia Amber] When Ashley Stewart approached me about representing the Butterfly Bra I was truly floored! I feel so honored! The bra is an amazing product and I am so eager to let the world know about it! If you’re an ample bosomed woman who’s tired of bras digging into her shoulders leaving horrible marks and grooves because your bra doesn’t support the weight of your breasts all around then the Butterfly Bra is definitely for you.
Going on tour with the insanely beautiful and talented Jill Scott was an amazing experience. Going city to city and having “girl talk” to discuss the needs of full figured women was indescribable. I learned so much about how we see ourselves and our beautiful bodies. I wish we could have taped those in-stores! For any woman who feels down because she feels that her struggles as a plus size woman are unique I just want to say– you are not alone! Share with your “sisters” because sharing is healing.
[Maddy] Besides being a model and actress you have also been a part of Project Curves, a program that brings information to aspiring models across the US as well as working with PLUS as our Creative Editor-at-Large. Can you tell us about this part of your career and a little about the type of work you have been involved with?
[Mia Amber] Longtime friend and mentor Gwen Devoe is the founder of Project Curves, a type of boot camp and mini-college for aspiring Plus Models. I was happy to come on board and have the opportunity to reach out to so many women who are trying to break into the industry. I don’t consider myself an expert on modeling as I see every opportunity as a learning experience and I am still growing but, if I can, through Project Curves, tell someone about my personal journey maybe she won’t make similar mistakes.
I see my being asked to come on board as Creative Editor-at-Large for PMM as an extension of that.
[Maddy] Earlier this year when PLUS was approached by Oxygen in regards to the JDMA I came to you with the details that were offered to us. With your Television experience you knew this would be more of a challenge than originally planned. Ultimately what was the reason you decided to face Janice on behalf of PLUS?
[Mia Amber] I primarily produce talk shows so I’m fully aware that reality television is a totally different monster all together because of its regular use of ‘creative editing’ to create characters and story lines. When JDMA approached PMM about appearing on an episode with a storyline of “helping Janice save the agency through the use of plus size models” to say I was skeptical would be a gross understatement! The world knows how Janice feels about “fat” people so when I heard that she was adding plus models to her board I took it as a blessing and a curse. I saw it as a blessing because the viewing audience who may never have heard of a plus model would finally get to see us and learn that we had our rightful place in fashion. The curse would be if Janice chose to attempt to berate and belittle the plus girls because she didn’t understand their bodies. I chose to step into the line of fire because I felt that I was well informed about the industry and I know that I can handle myself. I also wanted to stand up for the women who don’t know that they are beautiful because of the type of words that come out of the mouths of the ‘Janice Dickinsons’ of the world.
[Maddy] Janice Dickinson is not known for holding back, tell me about going to meet her for the very first time and the type of information about the plus size industry that came out during the taping.
[Mia Amber] One of the first things out of her mouth was that Fashion is a size zero… so I knew we were in trouble! I honestly don’t want to speak ill of her for her closed mind and open mouth but we (myself, Rhea and Inez) tried to educate her as much as possible. It turned very quickly from PMM the client going to her to book models into a struggle for all curvy woman-kind! Her son actually said that no one could even name a plus model because those models don’t matter!!
[Maddy] When was the defining moment when Janice said she would bring plus size models for the PLUS Model Magazine casting?
[Mia Amber] JD never “came around…” she walked out on us and said she wanted no part of us because fashion was a size zero and we weren’t fashion. When she did come back for the casting I found the entire thing to be profoundly disrespectful from among numerous other things… her notion that because we were booking plus girls that they’d be wearing “circus tents,” to asking me who I slept with.
[Maddy] Ultimately you chose Ivory for the cover and editorial as well as an up and coming (PLUS Model Magazine Directory member) Alana for the editorial. Tell me about the models and what each one brought to the shoot.
[Mia Amber] I was excited to see Ivory at the casting. I think she’s a phenomenal model and it was great working with new model Alana as well. It was an interesting dynamic working with both ladies because Ivory is an industry veteran and this was Alana’s first modeling assignment. I loved Alana’s energy and how open she was to learning. I think she will go far if she continues to believe in herself and know how beautiful she is. I’m not sure what will make it to air but we had a great talk and I hope she learned as much from me as I did from her.
[Maddy] We had an amazing crew assembled in LA for the shoot…. They did a stellar job. In NY you have been on set lots of times for PLUS shoots. Tell me about shooting with the LA crew.
[Mia Amber] When it comes to Rhea and Inez all I can say is WOW! As soon as I landed in L.A., I went to go meet Rhea. When I walked into her place I couldn’t believe the racks and racks of clothing and accessories she had pulled for the shoot! She works so hard on her projects and the stylist is often SO overlooked! I met Inez soon after and I was immediately at ease knowing that we were a team no matter what happened at JDMA! At the shoot I got to meet and work with Marlene, Jo and the great Artemis (finally!) It was definitely a united front all around and it was SO necessary! I loved meeting the L.A. Crew and it would be my honor to go to battle beside any one of them again!
[Maddy] We had an unexpected visitor at our set… tell me about who she is and how vast the views on body image and health were between Janice, her PR person and PLUS.
[Mia Amber] PR maven Lizzie Grubman is now handling JD so she accompanied Janice to the shoot. The two of them stopped our shoot to sit me down and proceed to let me know that I was unhealthy because I was a plus size model and all plus models are going to die an early death because we’re fat. I informed the ladies that I don’t honestly know of one plus model with health issues due to her weight. Once again, by the end of our round table discussion… I was too through! It’s like they can’t see the beauty in anything that doesn’t look like them. It’s a shame really.
[Maddy] In the end we had a fabulous cover and two editorials. What are your final thoughts about the experience?
[Mia Amber] In all honesty, as soon as we wrapped the episode and I got into the car to go home I had a bit of a meltdown that lasted a couple of days. I’d felt as though I was in a fistfight that I’d lost–badly. I hope that I don’t disappoint or embarrass the plus community with my appearance on the show. I’m afraid of how it will be edited but I’m hoping our message will still be clear.
JD is an awesome foe because it seems as though she’s not afraid to do or say anything no matter the ripple effect it may cause. My bottom line is this: women need to know how beautiful they are right this moment — not how great they’d be if they lost 10, 20 or 100 pounds. I have been there — 150 lbs overweight and afraid to really take a look at myself. Learning to love an “imperfect” self takes extreme courage but it can be done. Live your life knowing who you are and loving her — even if society says you’re wrong.