Becoming a Signed Wilhelmina Model

tanaye white Wilhelmina model

Becoming a Signed Wilhelmina Model

I am thrilled to share that earlier this month I signed with Wilhelmina Models! The little 14-year-old brace face me watching  America’s Next Top Model could never imagine this becoming a reality! And all praise is to Him! But, let me share my full testimony on how I achieved this feat…

At the beginning of 2019, I decided I wanted to quit my full-time corporate Fortune 500 job to pursue modeling. I began taking my own digitals (harder than you’d expect; should be an Olympic sport) and applying to every possible agency in the world with a submit button. *No response.* The idea is great but the actual act of transitioning to full-time modeling is harder said than done when you have student loans, mounting health issues, and …well… no money saved. So I chatted about my plan with my loving yet hesitant parents and when my lease was up in March, I moved back in with them. For the next 7 months, I put what would be rent money into my savings and commuted to my job which now was a 40 mile/1.5 hour drive each way Mon-Fri. I joined with Click Models in May, my first agency ever which gave me my first taste of what this future new life would be like. I began using my PTO and sick days for booked jobs and with each job, I realized this is something I truly wanted. During #SwimWeek, I went to open agency calls for the first time with no luck, and I must admit I was prepared to hear it, but actually hearing, “You don’t have the look” — it leaves you a lil bruised. But nevertheless, I continued my passion.

*Submits new digitals* GASP! I received one response— from Wilhelmina! AH! I had the opportunity to meet with Willy in July after submitting to them online, but I couldn’t attend due to work conflicts. A little piece of me died inside. “Will I ever get this opportunity again?” “Did I just pass up on my only chance to be with the agency I always dreamed of?” At this point I began resenting my increasingly difficult job more than ever for ‘getting in the way.’ But all you can do is keep pushing forward. I initially had planned to quit my job the beginning of August but that turned late August, mid September and then end of September. I put my foot down. September I would leave, no more push backs.

At the beginning of September, I joined T.H.E Artist Agency and that felt so amazing. But I still wanted to pursue representation in a major U.S. city. So I put a plan into action: I would travel to NYC and LA within a month of quitting to meet with agencies and attend open calls. *Submits newer digitals* and follow up email to Willy. I GOT A RESPONSE BACK! And a meeting was scheduled.

I was terrified and excited all in one and basically did what I hope was leaving my heart on the table and I asked as many questions as I could think: am I too old, am I too short, do you really think there’s a place for me in this market, do I need to move, how’s my size, what is a day in the life, etc. I left buzzing with a copy of the contract to review. It felt like I could really fit there. This could be it. But nothing was a given. Not yet. But I still cried tears of happiness in my NYC hotel room because even if that was as far as I’d make it, I’d still be so proud of myself. (I also had another meeting with another major NYC agency. Everything else was open calls [gulp].) But a week later, it happened. I signed my papers as I was simultaneously receiving rejection emails from others. And I cried again and told my parents and family and friends and smiled til my cheeks hurt. It didn’t feel real and it still doesn’t.

And I wanted to share this testimony because this industry is quite an enigma. I’ve watched at least a dozen hours of YouTube vlogs from models going to castings and open calls and detailing their experiences. They’re all different. I’ve complied the open call times of every agency in a Powerpoint doc. I’ve stalked dozens of agents via IG hoping to find an email address in their bio. They all seek different things. It all seems so complex and confusing no matter how much research you do or how many models you ask.

I also share this experience because I want to keep it real. You see the announcement, but you didn’t see the tears of sadness I cried at my desk when the office emptied out (or when it didn’t) or in the parking garage or in my car outside my parents house. The number of days I’d crash at my bf’s and his gracious roommates’ house just to avoid that long ass drive home, the countless times I’d spend in coworkers offices seeking upliftment or even encouragement not to sign a new lease, the hours I put in the gym, the “healthy” eating recipes I made and never ate, my discovery of SlimFast and nutrition bars and the ensuing weekly measurements. Oh and weighing myself— hadn’t done that in years. The day I discovered I’m actually 5’8” not 5’7” after making both my mom and bf measure me multiple times. My saved playlist of rhinoplasty videos and no-makeup makeup looks. The compounding time I’d spend squeezing myself every time I looked in the mirror searching for progress or imperfections. It all comes with it too. But I’ve been preparing for this mentally, physically, and spiritually like my life depends on it… it kinda does. And I’m ready.

1 Comment
  • Sarah Chadwick
    Posted at 16:37h, 03 December Reply

    Congratulations, Tanaye! Such exciting news and very proud of you. Looking forward to continuing to follow your journey. Blessings on each next step.

Post A Comment