INTERVIEW: RUE 21 MODEL ANNE WINTERSON

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Model Anne Winterson is a stunning, intelligent young woman with a bright future ahead of her. Multi-racial, multi-lingual, and multi-talented, her first three years of modeling have been met with plenty of success, including a national ad campaign that would turn most models green with envy.

We spoke with Anne about modeling, studies abroad, and her appearance in print ads that have been seen in over eight hundred locations for apparel retailer rue21.

Tell us a little about your very first photo shoot.  Where was that, how did it come to happen, and what was the experience like during and after?

Growing up in Taiwan, I’ve always been told that I could model by random strangers, but I never actually pursued it. My Taiwanese mother was adamantly against such “superficial and non-academic related” pursuits so she never put me in any commercials or shows. In the summer after my junior year I needed senior pictures for school. Trying to be business savvy, I figured I’d try to obtain some free senior photos by modeling. Through a friend, I found myself a photographer who knew many people in the industry. He immediately loved my look and acted as my manager. He took test shots of me and got me local gigs in Kaohsiung. My first paid location shoot that summer consisted of 10 amateur photographers simultaneously taking photos of me. Despite the scorching hot temperature, I remember the day being a complete adrenaline rush and so much fun. From that day on I knew I wanted to continue modeling.

What makes you unique as a model?

My versatile look and the opportunity of being able to model in both the States and Asia make me unique as a model. I may not be tallest or have the best bone structure, but being biracial has allowed me to be marketable in both the US and Taiwanese industries. In addition, I am fluent in the two most-spoken languages in the world, which has been a great asset to me when it comes to communication and overall marketability.

What haven’t you done yet as a model, but would like to?

There are still plenty of things that I have not achieved yet as a model. I have a secret bucket list of must-do’s before I turn 30 years old. Ultimately I’d love to get big enough as a model or entertainer to where I could make a big difference in this world. I would love to be able to publically support a cause that I am passionate about and have the power of being able to persuade people to join the movement simply because Anne Winterson is behind it.

You’ve mentioned that you don’t try hard at modeling, but things seem to come your way.  How do you explain those successes?

I attribute my success to God and all the supportive people around me throughout the years. I am a full time student at the University of Iowa and academics are my priority right now, so I am not seeking modeling opportunities that would interfere with school. Although I have been blessed with opportunities such as appearing on three television shows in Taiwan and having a national clothing campaign in the States. However, I want to make it clear that even though I am not constantly trying to get jobs, I do take my work very seriously. To me, modeling isn’t all about the glitz and the glam. Modeling is demanding and takes a lot of time, energy and devotion. Every single day I am browsing through other model’s work online, reading forums, watching videos and flipping through fashion magazines to get inspiration and better myself as a model. At every shoot, I am constantly trying to make the shoot my best to date by incorporating new poses, working my best features and angles, and working with the light, etc.

Has being in the Midwest helped or hurt your modeling prospects?  Do you feel it’s necessary to travel in order to succeed as a model?

Iowa definitely is not the place to be living for serious aspiring models. More than 59% of Iowa’s population is 65 years or older. Commercials and ads are geared towards the older consumer population; there are rarely any fashion or beauty commercial opportunities in Iowa. However that should not stop models in the Midwest from following their dreams. It is possible to be signed non-exclusively to several agencies in the Midwest, like in bigger cities such as Chicago or Minneapolis. If clients in those areas like your look, you can still get jobs. The only condition is that you have to be willing to travel to the cities for test shoots and of course, the actual jobs.

You will soon be travelling to China to study abroad and work.  Any big projects lined up for that trip we might want to hear about?

There are three agencies in Shanghai that are interested in signing me. I have not made a decision on whether or not I’d like to sign with any of them; there are pros and cons to being signed. Sometimes clients prefer hiring freelance models because they don’t have to additionally compensate agencies. On the other hand, sometimes clients only work with agency models because they want the security that agencies provide. Thus far I have a catalog shoot lined up for a clothing brand. I plan on doing more modeling during the weekends and such when school starts.

What’s next for you and your modeling career, when you get back to the United States?

Haha, I’m not thinking that far yet. I’ll definitely take whatever opportunities come my way with open arms. If I end up attending graduate school in the Midwest, I’ll most likely try to sign with an agency in Chicago or Minneapolis.

For a new model just starting out, how can they put their names out there and begin networking and building connections?

I think the online networking site Modelmayhem.com is a great place to start for general exposure. It allows local artists such as models, photographers, makeup artists and hairstylists to collaborate and make magic. Often times one can find locals who are willing to collaborate for trade to help their portfolio and that can often be beneficial for all parties involved.

There is a wide range of scams, inappropriate offers, and other negatives associated with the modeling industry.  How can a model protect herself (or himself)?

Yes, the modeling industry can be very dangerous Thankfully I have never run into anything bad thus far. (knock on wood) Here are a few guidelines that I abide by:

If an offer sounds too good to be true then chances are it is too good to be true. Walk away from it.

Always ask for references. If a photographer is offended by the reference request then he or she is not legitimate and not worth working with.

Always bring an escort to a shoot if it is your first time collaborating.

Do your research on the company that’s hiring. Has it been around for a while or did it just appear overnight?

Regarding receiving inappropriate offers, each model needs to present themselves as the person they want to be treated and perceived as. In other words, don’t state on your Model Mayhem portfolio that you don’t do nudity, yet have a portfolio that contains tasteless implied nude photos. I have no problem with models being comfortable with their body and wanting to have it glorified but then they must not be appalled with disgusting requests when they’re sending mixed messages.

All in all, use your brain and intuition; think critically.


W
hy do you think it is that so many models with great looks or talent fail at modeling?

There are many possible reasons. First of all, the industry is subjective. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder; some people are going to like your look and some people aren’t. Models need to learn to get comfortable with rejection and not easily give up. Second of all, often it’s who you know in the industry. Models need to work at networking and put themselves out there. Lastly, the modeling industry is about personality just as much as it is about looks. Thus, models need to focus on both.

How did you come to be selected for the rue21 campaign?

In early January, a casting director contacted me after stumbling upon my online portfolio. She said there was a national campaign photo shoot at the end of the month, and asked if I would be interested in it. I excitingly said yes and followed up with a Skype interview with the photographer. Initially, the photographer and casting director did not tell me which company I was being interviewed for; they simply informed me that it was a national teen clothing brand. A couple weeks later I was contacted again by the photographer. This time it was news about getting the gig for rue21!

Many models just starting out don’t know what’s expected of them for commercial projects, or how that side of the industry works.  From the perspective of a new model, what was it like on-set and during the production of the rue21 campaign?  Were there any eye-opening experiences?

At commercial shoots, because there are more models involved and there is very limited time, everything is fast paced. Models don’t really have any time to “warm up,” and a majority of the time is spent doing hair and makeup. For the three-day-long rue21 shoot specifically, my modeling entailed a great deal of laughing and simply having fun. I also had the opportunity of doing a fun video shoot with my fellow models. Additionally, the shoot in Louisiana was especially enjoyable because the clients, photographer, fellow models, and stylists were all so sweet and hilarious; we all bonded right away. My most memorable experience was taking the window shot of us “jumping into the lake.” We had to do the shot around 30 times in 50 degree weather acting like it was beautiful out. The scariest part was that there were live alligators swimming just underneath.

How have things changed in your modeling or personal life after working with Rue 21?

Prior to rue21 I hadn’t done much modeling in the US. The rue21 experience served to bolster my confidence as a model in the US. Also, more photographers have shown interest in working with me.

I’m sure at least one of our readers is going to want to know: do you get to keep the clothes or accessories after your shoots?

It depends on the company but unfortunately models don’t usually get to keep the clothes and accessories.

Any special message you would like to share with our readers?

It comes down to what you are passionate about. If you’re following your dreams, more opportunities will naturally come your way because people can tell when you’re following your passion. Be honest with yourself, and pursue the opportunities that really move you. For me personally, a large part of my passion for modeling derives from how much I love being able to express myself and play different characters. I can be an exaggerated version of myself, or someone who I’m completely not. In short, be a model only if you’re truly passionate about it.

 

PHOTO CREDITS:

Top image:  Maria Doan Photography
Bottom image:  Ryan Towe Photography