How To Survive The Creative Industry, With Model Gordonnay Gaines

JD Barnes

Interview with Gordonnay Gaines

When did you start modeling?

I started modeling when I was fifteen/going on sixteen. It was my sophomore year of high school and I wanted to start something new. My aunts would always tell me I should model, so I finally listened, and applied to some agencies. 

I got signed with Wilhelmina and was signed with them until I was about 18 or so. While being signed with them, I walked by first New York Fashion Week at 16, when I met model, Ms. Beverly Johnson, who later became my mentor and family friend. I also worked for bridal companies, athletic companies, and many more. I will forever be grateful for the development, experience, and lessons I gained with them.

Are you signed to an agency? Who have you worked with?

I am currently signed with EMG New York, Genetic Models Los Angeles, and Vie Agency in Philadelphia. I’ve worked with brands such as Yeezy, Maybelline, Bobbi Brown, Shisedio, Studio189, and many more.

Tell me about your experience in the modeling industry. Do you like it? What’s your favorite part about doing what you do?

The modeling industry is business, which I had to learn the hard way. However, due to my dad being in the business industry, growing up and seeing him be in that, I’ve observed and took notes on how the entertainment business went. It has a lot to do with how people can market you and how you attract people… and I don’t mean with just your looks, but your personality and what you bring to the table. I do love it. It has helped me with maintaining who I am along the way with my epilepsy, and I couldn’t be more thankful for that.

The one thing I love… LOVE about modeling is being able to bring companies’ and individual’s visions to life. The feeling of being able to make others happy and satisfied about their work, brings me joy. I love being able to do that for people. In addition to that, I love being able to show people in the epilepsy community and others with disabilities, that you can do anything you want… no matter what.

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You mentioned you have epilepsy — is it hard being in this industry with a disability like that? 

I don’t want to use the word hard, but it was challenging. Casting’s, shoots, meeting up with my agents, then going home and working out, making sure I eat enough, taking my medicine, it was… challenging. I had to learn how to put some things first.

Even though my heart would always want to get up and do modeling “stuff,” I knew I had to take my time waking up properly to avoid getting symptoms of a seizure and making sure I got something to eat (which sometimes I still forget to do).

Last summer, in August, I had a really big shoot and I was super excited for it that I couldn’t sleep the night before. However, when I woke up the next day for a shoot, I had a seizure in the shower and my dad had to knock the door down. I was in and out the hospital and I never got booked for that company again. Yet, the next day I had a runway show and I did what I had to do to make sure I made that job count. And I did. It’s challenging, but I made it through and will continue to do so.

Do you have any advice for someone who might be going through something similar? 

I just wish people in the epilepsy community and other individuals with disabilities don’t get discouraged on their weakest days. Those weak days build you up for the good ones… and the good ones are better than you imagined.

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new digitals —

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What’s a day in the life look like for you in a creative industry? Any casting calls, go-sees, shoots? 

A normal day for me would be getting up, looking at my phone/computer for anything new added to my schedule, working out, then grabbing maybe a banana or something small in the morning (I’m not really a breakfast person). Then heading to the bus station to head to the city. I try to schedule things in one day because as a commuter, it’s annoying to go to the city for a five minute casting for the bus fare. (PSA: I try to save as much money as possible lol). Going to castings, test shoots, maybe stopping at my agency’s office, then lastly, getting a bite by myself or meet up with friends.

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throwin it back to #yeezyseason4 👀 // @gq

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What’s something you want photographers to know when reaching out to models for shoots?

Photographers… just don’t be creepy. Oh, and know what your models are comfortable and not comfortable with on set. Don’t be pushy.

What’s something you want other models to know, especially when they’re getting signed to an agency or working with other creatives (other models on set, photographers, stylists, etc.)?

New models. Be yourself. Don’t change. Stay determined and don’t stop at the “no’s” because once you get that “yes,” it’s an amazing feeling. But… do not put this job over your mental and physical health. And that’s how I feel about any job. Your body and mind is far more important. Your body and mind is a temple. How you treat your body and mind is essential. How you talk to yourself is important. Don’t forget.

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hi. 🕊 hoops by @crystalstreetsjewelry.

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— VOGUE. by @duoduolinn for @vogueitalia. // styled by @stylebyjaein, makeup by @sandy_nicha, and hair by @ataminnaa. ✨

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If you’re looking for a model who fits the look of your brand or a photographer searching for someone to be your next muse, we got you covered!