INTERVIEW PART 2: Rebecca of Modeltypeface

The most important part of modelling in terms of confidence and being able to deal with the intense challenges the job can pose is having a strong sense of self. In our second part of Rebecca’s interview, we talk about all of the things that make Rebecca who she is outside of modelling - dance, blogging, writing and giving advice to others.

Your blog Modeltypeface is a huge inspiration to many aspiring and current models - you share advice on everything from posing to staying healthy as a model. You also celebrate other models with #ModelCrushMonday and share your own work. How did you decide to set it up and how has the process been in maintaining such a successful blog for so many years?

I set up Modeltypeface because for years, daily, I'd get messages from models I know and don’t know who want advice about modelling. I figured I’d put all that in one place. I still get messages all the time because people can’t be bothered to search it on the site, but at least I can direct them to the page rather than write it all out every time. 

I’ve loved doing it and the highs have been what it led to - appearing on the BBC and Sky News, writing for The Telegraph and other papers.

The lows are when it feels a bit flat and uninspired, and that I haven’t really done with it what I intended to - events, stalls at Model Zone, campaigns etc - mainly because I lacked the confidence to just go for it and take risks. 

 Modeltypeface has led you to some pretty exciting journalism jobs - most recently being published in Psychologies magazine! How did this come about and what advice would you give to models looking for a career in journalism?

Well it’s like how I got you on the panel chat and that Fabulous Magazine interview - a mix of knowing the right people and putting out the right stuff. For example the BBC News thing was because my friend, Tuuli Rankin, knew the newsreader and couldn’t go on herself. She knew I was doing Modeltypeface so suggested me. And I went to school with the editor I know at The Telegraph, so she knew I’d modelled and approached me to write. Pretty much everything has been a case of meeting contacts through work or friends, but having the articles I've written to legitimise my pitches. A regret of mine is that I’ve embraced opportunities when they came my way, but I didn’t pursue those connections and often let them fall by the wayside because I didn't want to annoy them.

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Your modelling career has only improved in recent years, despite all the fears models have of reaching 21 and being ‘past it’. What is your secret to success?

I think it’s DANCE! I started going to dance classes at At Your Beat in 2016 and my body transformed (it is more proportionate and toned), as did the way I move in front of the camera. I’m more confident in myself, no longer worrying that I don’t look like other people, and that energy probably carries across.

How have you found modelling change throughout your career? What was it like at the start to where you are today? 

The budgets are bullshit now, I can’t believe how little models are paid for the usages involved. And bearing in mind I had a Nokia 33:10 when I started, the internet has blown the old catalogues, print media and all-round rules out of the water. Also, social media: what the hell! It’s fun but ridiculous that a person’s career can rest on arbitrary numbers.

Recently, diversity has improved vastly in the last year or so - gender fluidity, race, ethnicity, sexuality, age - these are really positive developments and my intuition tells me that it isn’t a temporary, tokenistic thing but I could, of course, be wrong (hope not!).

Also it’s great we can now join Equity - I've really benefited from them. 

Social media is a huge part of our careers now as clients book us from our Instagram accounts, and also allow us to show our personalities - but the pressure is heightened for models to show a perfected version of ourselves on social media more than ever. How do you feel about it?

I just find it really irritating because it’s 24/7 work and stress on the ever-shifting sands of whatever ‘The Algorithm is’ (we have all started speaking about it like it’s some mysterious omnipotent force, like the Wizard of Oz). 

I think it’s great that a client can go on my Instagram and see what I’m about - dance, animals, modelling and friends - and think I seem like a good model who’s up for having fun and would be perfect for the job they're casting. I get that it's a bit like an online CV where people can check you seem cool and don't have two heads. But I don’t think it’s right that I might have the perfect look but if I have too low a follower count, then I’m out. I could very easily just buy followers, as many people do, so it’s really senseless. 

I actually enjoy the engagement of my Instagram: I'd count lots of people all over the world as friends, and lots of people come to me for advice on mental health, modelling and just to share animal videos. It's also helped nurture friendships with people I don't get to see much, like make up artists and other models.

However there are many things I resent about Insta. I do think Instagram is pushing a particular aesthetic and body that’s quite...Fake. Lots of filler and Facetune. It’s more pressure for models AND the impressionable people who follow them to live up to these standards. 

Thank god knitwear clients don’t seem to give two hoots about my Instagram! 

How do you think the modelling industry can be improved? What are the issues the industry is currently facing in your opinion?

Lack of regulation, unrealistic expectations on models, the suggestion that we all become superstar bloggers/insta girls without helpful advice on HOW to do this. We’re all facing the same problems of technology narrowing down the work available and I guess we’re all going into it fairly blinkered and clueless. 

Modeltypeface is largely about giving advice to models - and you give me brilliant advice all of the time! What advice would you give to an aspiring model, a new model and an experienced model? 

Aspiring: get ready for rejection and the fact that you *probably* won’t be signed. Once you really accept this, you will be in the right mindset for modelling: a job that is 90% rejection. But it’s not all doom and gloom: immerse yourself in the world. Buy magazines, study the poses, look at the shots that grab your attention and why they resonate. 

Do your research on agencies. Who are the trusted ones? Which ones are asking you for money upfront? What do their models look like: are they getting great editorials (Vogues, campaigns) or are they just studio shots? Which agencies have models who look a bit like you? Most agencies have a 'style' - Select is a bit punky, Elite are very polished, Nevs are super commercial with a youthful edge - and which do you think suits you? 

Get practising on little shoots, and posing in the mirror. Avoid duck face pouts and overly serious faces, as these are what people THINK magazines want, whereas really they want someone who is open to acting out the spectrum from mean and moody to light and leapy. Start practising in heels around the house! 

New models: Get social media savvy, fast! A feed full of filtered images and pouting generally won't work; you want to get in the habit of regular posting of cool, crisp images in natural light. Now is the time to really decide, in your mind, what you are happy shooting and what your boundaries are. Fur, nudity, sheer, intimacy with other models: you might be cool with all of these, and you might not want to do any of these, but you need to make sure you know so that you can confidently say no on shoots. It's often just assumed you'll shoot whatever, but when you tell clients you're not comfortable shooting nude, for example, they're generally understanding. 

I'd also say you should join Equity now, so that they can help you with money and legal advice that bookers don't always give very well. 

Experienced models: Keep up hobbies and studies on the side. Don't get lazy about modelling: keep going to exhibitions between castings and looking through magazines to see what's current, or else we don't bring anything fresh to shoots. Open university courses are good to build up your resumé for whenever modelling dips. Keep going in the agency every few months to remind them that you exist.

What do you see happening to modelling in the future? 

I think that it will be all about Instagram and celebrity culture for the forseeable future. With ecom bringing in 'the robots', that will no longer be bread and butter for many models. I personally think that modelling will become more and more about a person's brand than fitting into certain height, measurement and narrow boxes, so it'll open it up more and more regardless of colour, creed or gender. I see more casting and booking platforms like AAMO leading the way.

However I think modelling will always exist, I'm just glad that it's not going to be my sole career soon. 

How about your own future? 

I had terrible acne when I was younger, and this led me to be really aware and educate myself about ingredients in products and how to care for myself both with diet and hydration as well as what I put on my skin. Since then lots of people come to me for beauty advice, and I love giving it. 

I've always enjoyed giving people facials and putting make up on them, so I decided that, as I'd stayed interested in it for years (unlike MANY other phases), this would be a good career for me. I like the fact that it's tactile and almost like giving people therapy. 

I'm surprised to find that my brain IS operating - thanks to dance sharpening my synpases, I think - and I really want to excel at it. Though I don't have a definite plan of action once I qualify. That's never been how I operate! 

I’m pretty sure your brain is operating fine Rebecca - you’re one of the cleverest people I know AND have excellent hand eye co-ordination!

Check out Rebecca’s website here - Modeltypeface.