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Interview With PLUS Model Magazine Cover Model Ivana

Plus size model Ivana is one of the most recognizable and beautiful faces in the plus size modeling industry. With several national campaigns under her belt and countless appearances in magazines such as MODE and Figure we feel honored to have this talented young lady grace the cover of PLUS!

[Maddy] Hi Ivana, can you tell us a little about yourself? Did you always want to be a model?

[Ivana] I’m from Reading, PA: a rural city one hour from Philadelphia. I have three siblings: a 20 year old sister, an 18 year old brother and a 12 year old sister. My grandmother exposed me to travel by taking me on many trips growing up. I enjoyed the adventure and wanted to be a flight attendant when I was younger.

[Maddy] Was modeling something that came naturally to you?

[Ivana] Yes, modeling came naturally to me because I was always told that I was very photogenic. I actually studied the expressions and body gestures in magazines when I was in high school.

[Maddy] How did you get started as a model?

[Ivana] I love telling my story about how modeling sparked my interest. I was 19, in my second year in college, and at the local mall there was a sign up booth for modeling school. I paid $500 for the tuition with the last of my savings bonds; so very determined to start modeling. The agency held a small runway show and the etiquette coach said that she had been training women and models for years; that I looked great on the runway. My roommate had also been taking pictures of me for her photography class. The angles she used captured me like I had never seen before. So, I spoke with my cousin, who was signed with Ford Models. She said, “If you want to model, you have to do it big. You must go to New York!” She set up appointments for me to meet with the only three agencies at the time, and within six months I became a Ford Model.

[Maddy] I have some very old MODE Magazine’s where I see a very young, curly haired Ivana. Can you tell me about those days working with MODE?

[Ivana] Mode magazine was my first shoot with Ford Models. At the time I had to use a pay phone to call in to see if I was booked for an editorial shoot in California. I was so excited when my agent told me that I was, that I jumped into six inches of snow and made snow angels, lol.

We stayed in Oja Valley resorts the first part of the trip and dined next to Ellen Degeneres and Ann Heche! It felt surreal and that my dream had come true. The first shoot was a 1950’s story. I wore a rose diamond-encrusted necklace and a black halter bathing suit. I felt like Marilyn Monroe: very classic Hollywood glamour. As we were cruising in the RV to Sunset Boulevard to check into The Standard Hotel, I realized that dreams do come true. I knew then that I was going to pursue modeling full-time. Mode magazine was what sparked my interest to model and was my first booked shoot. I am very grateful for those opportunities.

[Maddy] How has the industry changed since you began your career?

[Ivana] The industry has changed in how we are marketed, model versatility in look and size, and the increase in publicity for plus size models. The average woman is a size 14; plus size is represented worldwide. The industry can now be seen from European catwalks to clothing ads. I am proud to say that I have actually inspired a few plus models to pursue modeling. That shows how effectively the industry is growing.

[Maddy] You have been a working model for quite some time now and have indeed been very successful. I recall seeing you at several Just My Size presentations. How was your experience working with them and being the “face of”?

[Ivana] Just My Size line of clothing allows a full figured woman to feel comfortable and confident in their undergarments and clothing. I did a double page underwear ad that was published in 15 magazines. It was shot in black and white and reminded me of goddess artwork. I recently modeled for their new line that has a wide selection of clothing priced under $25 and will be sold in Walmart, Spring 2010. The colors and styles used made me feel confident to be a “normal” sized woman.

[Maddy] I noticed you have consistently worked through your weight fluctuations. At a size 16 you were just as stunning as a size 14. What are your views on the great weight debate? In your opinion, can you work at a size 16?

[Ivana] Yes, I started at a size 12-14. Once I was working more: eating catered food, dealing with inconsistent eating schedules due to travel, and not exercising enough, my size went up to a 16. I also felt that I get paid to be this size, so I am going to eat whatever I want and exercise less. I noticed in personal and professional pictures that I felt like myself, but I didn’t look like myself. At a size 16, I became the official it girl for Old Navy Plus. They used my size to produce the clothes, promote the line with store posters, coupons, and online advertisements. Over the past two years the industry has grown. I have done research to see what sizes are working with what clients. I realized that many of the models in the industry are a size 14. The clients book models with similar proportions so that the clothing will be more marketable. Over the years I have seen trends in style as well as size. I believe it is up to the client to decide what size to use to represent their product.

[Maddy] Presently down to size 14, what was your approach to your recent weight loss?

[Ivana] I approached it as a life transformation. I knew I could do it being that I was that size five years ago. I looked at it as a challenge physically and mentally, and to push myself because I am young, healthy and beautiful. It was a lifestyle change: I went to the gym more and monitored what I ate.

[Maddy] Indeed it is a lifestyle change, and takes discipline. Most aspiring models think modeling is just being fabulous and looking great. What are the challenges a model faces to stay in “working” condition?

[Ivana] The main challenge a model faces to stay in working condition is having a flexible schedule in order to book last minute work or castings. Another challenge is remaining at the same weight and measurements from when the client hired you. A third would be maintaining a consistent image: hair, clothes, manicures, pedicures.

[Maddy] How do you prepare for castings, and what is your advice to aspiring models on what to wear and how to best be prepared?

[Ivana] I approach a casting as a five minute interview that is based on your appearance and personality. I would suggest to aspiring models to be confident, dress to impress, and wear high heels. My agent told me years ago to wear bright colors that stand out and are memorable. The best way to be prepared is to have a natural look, hair done and present yourself as if you are there to sell their product.

[Maddy] This has worked well for you as you have been modeling consistently. What has been your most memorable shoot to date?

[Ivana] My most memorable shoot was when I was the first and only model for the Old Navy plus line of clothing. I had to fly to L.A. to shoot in Culver City, at Smashbox studios. The production was big and I was nervous because the pressure was on me. The CEO of Old Navy had to decide whether to proceed with the plus line. By the second shoot, the client said everyone in the office was chanting “Ivana…Ivana…Ivana.” That was a very proud moment for me in my career and I felt that I accomplished so much in those five years of modeling.

[Maddy] Finally, what is the key to your success?

[Ivana] My key to success is prayer, optimism, ambition, confidence, focus. Every day I live is a gift; a blessing. I take nothing for granted and my positive friends and role models keep me inspired.

PHOTO CREDITS

Photographer: Luke Jones

Assistant Photographer: Anthony Armstrong

Model: Ivana
www.fordmodels.com

Makeup: Tara Taylor

Hair Stylist: Aliza Williams

Stylist: Brandon “Blue” Coates

Assistant Stylist: Erika Ischelle

Jewelry: Rachel Fennimas
www.fennimas.com