My Come Up: With Model Courtney Quinn

I discovered I wanted to model around the age of 13. I saw girls like Britney Spears, Lindsay Lohan, etc. in all the magazines and I knew I didn’t want to end up like them. So I wondered, “Where are the celebrities that are trying to be a good influence to other girls?” That’s when I decided I wanted to be a role model one day- someone younger girls could look up to. When I was about 14, my parents introduced me to an older girl at my church. She was 16 I think. She was a model and invited me to one of her fashion shows. I got to see everything that went on behind the scenes; hair, makeup, wardrobe. I thought it was so cool. This is when I became more interested in modeling, but I was really shy, so I didn’t think I’d be able to do something that put me in front of crowds of people everyday. My parents encouraged my interest and set me up in a modeling class when I was 15, where I learned about runway, photoshoots, agencies, etc. I LOVED it! The next step was going into agencies with my new portfolio, hoping to get signed. I went to 3 or 4 and was rejected by all of them for “looking too young.” One agency told me to come back when my cheeks weren’t as chubby. My parents and I didn’t really know anything about the industry, so I thought that was it and, unfortunately, came to the conclusion that I was not fit to be a model.

When I was 18, I moved to West Palm Beach for school. This is where I became inspired to model again. I set up a Model Mayhem account and started arranging photoshoots with teams of photographers, hair/makeup artists, etc. to build my portfolio, experience, and connections. I have to say, you definitely have to be careful on MM, be smart, and know what to look out for. However, that’s basically how I was able to start my modeling career, so I’m thankful for it. I did a good 6 months of shooting shooting shooting, then I gained weight. I gained about 20 lbs in just a couple months. So I gave up. I was busy with college, anyway.

I started really pursuing modeling at age 23, when I graduated from school and all the weight had magically just fallen off (I swear, my body is wack). That’s when I decided I was really going to go for it. I WAS going to be a model. Agencies told me I was too old to be just starting out. I didn’t let that stop me. Again, I reached out to photographers and other creatives and started shooting, shooting, shooting. Once I had a solid portfolio, I went into Miami agencies again. “Too commercial”, “Too old”, “Too late in the game” were some comments I received, but I kept smilin’ and kept going. One agency said, “Come back when you’ve been on the cover of a magazine.” Wait, what? I thought agencies were the ones that made that happen! This feedback was very helpful though. I realized, these agencies want models that already have all the experience. So I found a photographer that wanted to shoot for publication, Esdras Santiago. We shot an editorial and I was published for the first time. I couldn’t believe it. I was in a magazine! I never thought I’d be able to say that or see MY face on those pages! Esdras also knew one of the agents at Posche Models, a smaller Miami-based agency. He made the introduction and I was asked to come in for an interview. I went in with the portfolio I had been building for about 6 months, my recent publications, and I got signed. FINALLY! I am now signed with Posche Models, Runways the Talent Group, and Professionally Pretty. Although Runways is the agency I work with most.

Being a signed model has been… interesting! Completely different than I thought it would be. Most of my agencies are smaller and get me a job once every couple months. I do get pretty consistent work through one of my agencies, which more runway-focused (fashion shows, informal presentations, etc) and I have grown to love it. 99% of the print work I do is still freelance, through my own efforts and connections I’ve made. Although the amount of agency work has been less than expected, being signed definitely has other benefits. I’ve found that being “agency represented” has helped me get more freelance work and clients, as well as magazine publications. Getting signed with my first agency is what gave me the motivation to keep pushing for more. It’s what really gave me the drive to shoot, get published, and work on building my own career and image as much as possible. My experience with agencies has also taught me how to show up to a booking, what I should bring, and the expectations most clients will have.

If you want to take modeling to the next step then SHOOT SHOOT SHOOT! Get published. Get as much experience in as many areas of modeling as possible before walking into an interview. Agencies want to see that a model ALREADY has it all, not that they want to (basically, the less work THEY have to do, the better). Start out at smaller, boutique agencies too. Larger agencies will like to see that you’ve already been signed by someone else that has/can help you get prepared. And don’t give up when you get turned away! Keep working. Keep going in. Don’t let them forget you. You have to be able to handle rejection in this industry.

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