Interview With PLUS Model Magazine Cover Model Mia Amber
by Suzette Banzo
They say that the true judge of having mastered anything is the ability to turn around and teach it to someone else. Mia Amber is most definitely someone who not only knows how to dress herself for success, but also helps aspiring models learn how to best present themselves. Mia, a model, actor and now style consultant mixes experience, talent and a great eye for what works to help other women understand their beauty as they take their place in the business.
Suzette: Mia, I have noticed many models using your services as a stylist these days. How did you get involved in styling for shoots?
Mia Amber: Well, I don’t consider myself a stylist…more of a consultant I guess. I saw a lot of aspiring models spending money on photo shoots in an effort to submit photos to agencies and 99% of the time, the aspiring models were dressed inappropriately for the photos.
Suzette: What is an example of inappropriate attire for a portfolio photo?
Mia Amber: I always let the ladies know that they do NOT need professional photos to submit to an agency but if they have made the decision to pay for a shoot then they need to learn to look like a model and I take them shopping to help them learn to put together looks. Examples of inappropriate: Club hopping clothes, lycra, extremely low cut tops, poorly fit clothing, logos, etc. Hair styled as if they are in a hair show and wearing stage makeup. Showing too much skin, and using props is another “Don’t”. My hope is that at the end of our shopping day they have learned what looks good on their body type, what clothing will look great in a photo, and what is industry standard.
Suzette: What can a model expect from working with you if she is shooting for the first time?
Mia Amber: My services include a consultation where we sit down together and decide what types of looks are missing from her portfolio or what type of clients she may attract; if she has a body for lingerie/swimwear, etc. and we go from there.
Suzette: What range of different looks would you suggest if she has no previous photos?
Mia Amber: It all depends on the model. If she is a size 12 it will be different than if she is a 24. Whether she has commercial aspirations or fashion aspirations.
Suzette: Let’s say she is a size 18, with commercial aspirations.
Mia Amber: I’ll take a look at her proportions and decide her best features to focus on. Together we look for colors that best suit her and clothes that aren’t fussy so that she doesn’t spend her entire shoot trying to figure out how to work a garment as opposed to letting her own beauty be showcased. We also look at what is currently viable on the market and how that pertains to her as a model.
Suzette: 1980’s style is currently in fashion, what is your most favorite item that has come back?
Mia Amber: I know I’m going to hear it about this one but everyone knows how I feel about leggings…Love them! They were a staple in the 80’s and I have a bunch of them now; they are transitional…good for working out, fall styles, giving you a little support, etc.
Suzette: What do you hope will remain in the archives of fashion disaster history?
Mia Amber: The Golden Girls style of the late great Bea Arthur’s floor length tunics. Overall drapey shoulder padded styles for plus size women also need to stay down!
Suzette: I noticed you like to incorporate bold jewelry pieces in your work. Do you have any particular designers, or shops you like scout for jewelry? Would you say that adding a bold piece of costume jewelry is your signature look?
Mia Amber: I love jewelry and I love it when full figured women aren’t afraid to accessorize and be unapologetic for being beautiful. I’m not sure if it’s a national chain but Gem Story feels like the world’s greatest accessory shop especially in these economic times– everything is $2.99.
I don’t know that I have a signature look, but I love it when my clients find new things to love about their bodies after our shopping sessions
Suzette: What are some of the things your clients have said they love about their bodies after you work with them?
Mia Amber: “I didn’t know I had a waistline!” “Look at my legs!” “My hips are hot!”
Suzette: That’s great!
Mia Amber: Yes, it never gets old.
Suzette: Speaking of looking great and feeling great, a few months ago you shared with the readers that you were doing an intense boot camp training, how is that going?
Mia Amber: Boot camp is currently kicking my behind! I was partially sidelined for a few weeks with a knee injury but I’m still hanging in there. I strongly encourage everyone to find a fitness regimen and stick with it.
Suzette: What results have you noticed since you started?
Mia Amber: I’ve lost inches in my waist, hips, arms, thighs, neck and stomach. I no longer cringe at the prospect of doing 200 pushups or 300 sit-ups. I look forward to being at boot camp which is something I never thought would happen. I also think twice about eating something ridiculous because I don’t want the shame of writing it down in my food journal.
Suzette: Please tell me you are exaggerating when you said 200 pushups!
Mia Amber: Not at all! Pyramids are my favorite because when you’re done you realize what you’ve accomplished and it’s amazing!
Suzette: What are pyramids?
Mia Amber: You start with one base exercise (like 20 pushups) then add on another exercise (like 30 squats) then go back to doing pushups, then squats, then add on another exercise and so on until you’ve done 200 pushups.
Suzette: How has being on the program helped you in other ways besides losing inches?
Is there something about doing the exercises as part of a group that you find particularly appealing?
Mia Amber: I have a greater appreciation for my body and enjoy the challenges. The boot camp group is great because we are all in it together and we are a bunch of wise guys so training is fun and the difficulty is diminished by the laughter.
Suzette: The camaraderie makes the battle worth it.
Mia Amber: Definitely! We all push each other. For more information on boot camp go to: www.AjaDavis.com (no relation).
Suzette: Some people have the misconception that you don’t have to work out if you are a plus size model because it’s ok to be fat as long as you are pretty. What do you have to say to them?
Mia Amber: Ha! In the words of the legendary Sharon Quinn, “It takes more than being big and pretty to make it as a plus model!” You must develop a regimen to help you maintain your physique and your client list.
Suzette: We’ve all seen recent photos of plus size models getting slimmer. Whitney Cunningham and Whitney Thompson from America’s Next Top Model, Maiysha and others. In your opinion, is this the direction of the industry or do you think this is a personal choice? For instance, I’m sure for Maiysha it was to help market her music.
Mia Amber: I’ve been a fan of Maiysha for a very long time and I also have a few friends who are trying to make it in the music industry which is notoriously unforgiving when it comes to weight; for some reason they care about what size you wear more than the number of octaves in your range.
Suzette: I completely agree, we see that time and time again.
Mia Amber: I’m not sure if the industry is skewing smaller and smaller in terms of modeling. There are a few size 8’s on many plus boards but size 12/14 has been the most coveted size for several seasons and I don’t see that losing steam.
Suzette: I know you will be participating in Full Figure Fashion Week this month, what came to your mind when you first heard about it?
Mia Amber: Woo hoo! It’s about time! I am very happy to see someone take initiative and do it. If anyone can pull this off, it is Gwen Devoe.
Suzette: How did you meet Gwen? Was it at the Plus Academy or did you work with her on previous productions?
Mia Amber: I was doing some research and saw her information in a magazine. I called her, we met and she put me one of her shows that was happening a couple of weeks later. From that point on I was thrown into rehearsals where I learned how to walk, pack a model bag, etc. I was never a student of the Plus Academy but I have seen her do great work with her students.
Suzette: What does Full Figure Fashion Week mean to the full figure community as a whole? The models, designers, etc
Mia Amber: As a model it puts the spotlight on us as a part of the fashion community that is often overlooked or dissociated with fashion. I’m also happy that the dedicated and talented designers who make plus size fashions a part of their collections when it is not the most popular thing to do will get the recognition they so rightly deserve.
Suzette: Besides walking the runway at FFFWeek, where will we see Mia Amber next?
Mia Amber: Please look out for me on the Bravo’s new hit series, “The Fashion Show” starring Kelly Rowland and Isaac Mizrahi. I will also be launching my website this summer and I look forward to hearing from all of the PMM readers.
Suzette: That is GREAT news Mia! We’ll all tune in to Bravo’s new show and ‘watch what happens’. Speaking of the PMM readers, I’m sure aspiring models are asking you for advice all of the time, what is something they can learn from you right now that will help them reach their goals?
Mia Amber: My #1 tip is to do your homework, learn what the industry expects from you and where you fit into the industry.
If you’re interested in working with me as a style consultant for an upcoming shoot please reach out to me on Model Mayhem at Mia Amber Style.