The UK modelling scene can be a hard nut to crack, with limited opportunities for ethnic girls. Black Beauty & Hair finds models who are making headway in their chosen profession
Teri Marquez, 23, was the first black model to appear on the front cover of UK FHM, and last year she also won the first series of hit TV show Beauty and the Geek.
Marquez has a strong opinion when it comes to the modelling industry in the UK. 'The market for black girls to do glamour modelling is minute; therefore it is harder to get good jobs. Overall the 'European look' is definitely preferred,' she says.
Jessica Mitchfield, 24, feels that there is indeed a market for ethnic models at the moment and that people are looking outside of the stereotype. She gives credit to her agency Charles & Ko, one of the UK's leading ethnic modelling agencies. 'The agency has done a great thing by representing only ethnic models. If an artist wanted a mixed-race girl to appear in their video then they could choose from the variety of girls on their books.'
The 'Face of Tenerife' in 2000, Mitchfield, has now gone on to appear in videos for US stars such as Ludacris and Pretty Ricky. Although she has been modelling for six years, her real ambition is to become a successful actress.
'Modelling definitely opens doors for you and helps to get you noticed,' she says. The pay isn't bad either, 'Cheques can be around the £2,000 mark,' she notes.(Teri Marquez)
London born model, Antoniette Alexis, 24, has been modelling since she was 17. She has recently appeared in Lemar's new video. Highly sought after due to her exotic looks, Alexis has just come back from the world-famous Carbon Black rally (that's car racing to you girls). She described it as 'the most intense experience' where in five short days she visited Dubrovnik, Budapest, Austria and Venice. After a string of high-profile advertisements for L'Oreal and King Fisher Beer, the model's plan for the future is to work on live television and try her hand at comedy acting. Alexis believes that people are more open-minded and the market for ethnic models is bigger. Also with Charles & Ko, she says: 'My agency has always been really supportive of what I want to achieve and push us to do our best.'
She laughs when the subject of money is brought up and says: 'The big companies with the big budgets definitely pay the best. Music videos don't pay as much as they used to, I think this is because of downloading.'
Bernadette Aberdeen- Marcus is the founder and manager of BAM Casting. Set up in 1995, the agency is currently one of the UK's top casting agencies. It works in conjunction with directors and producers. A storyline is sent to over and Bam Casting gives suggestions on several character options.
Aberdeen-Marcus has worked on music videos for the likes of Oasis, Alicia Keys, Lemar, Simon Webbe and Rise and Fall for Craig David and Sting. When it comes to music videos, BAM Casting look for 'a bit of attitude' in potential models as well as the looks. 'I always try and push my directors to look for something more unusual. Something out of the norm,' she says. The market for ethnic and black models has certainly expanded. In fact Aberdeen-Marcus makes sure that at least one ethnic model is cast in any one of her client's videos. 'People are so used to white models but I like to use ethnic women. You have to think about what you are displaying and giving out to the public. Ethnic women are under-represented,' she expresses.
Luke Biggins is one of the UK's most prolific music video directors. He has directed videos for huge artists such as Kano, Lily Allen, Kanye West, Lemar and Alesha Dixon (formally of Misteeq). He has also directed commercials for Renault Clio, British Airways and Coca-Cola. When it comes to casting female models, he says that he looks for 'star quality and a touch of class.' He believes that now there are more opportunities for black and ethnic models to progress in the industry, as long as they are professional and have a good attitude.
As director, Biggins writes up 'the treatment', storyboards for commercials, documentaries and music videos. He then casts for models that fit the bill, holding auditions until the right girl is found.
Working as a director is tiring work and not as glamorous as most people would imagine. Biggins says: 'A four minute video or commercial could take up to 14 hours to film. But the job is great as I love meeting different people and working on different and exciting projects every day.'