|be stylish | October/November 2016
Be persistent: A lesson from America's Next Top Model contestant Victoria Henley
by Heather Hollermann
"It was a whirlwind," Victoria Henley said of her experience on America's Next Top Model.
A model from the beginning, Henley got her start in ads as a baby. When she got older, she often watched America's Next Top Model, took part in modeling lessons and got her first magazine subscription to Vogue, which opened her eyes to fashion. One fateful day, she saw an ad for America's Next Top Model -- they were holding auditions!
Henley was one of 36,000 other aspiring models to audition; she was offered a contract as a semi-finalist. Another month passed before they flew her out to Beverly Hills. Henley, alongside the 30 other girls that were selected, went through a rigorous process. They underwent psychological evaluations and blood work. They were each assigned an assistant who, Henley swears, called 15 times a day. These assistants kept logs and asked dozens of questions, ensuring they were interesting enough for television. "You're basically exhausted once it's time to start filming," she says.
Only 18 years old at the time, Henley began the show very naive. "I grew up a lot," she says. "But I was totally a fish out of water." Homeschooled and family-oriented, Henley found it hard being away from family -- especially her mother, who had been her constant support system. Being filmed in a house with many people of various personalities was an added difficulty. "You need thick skin," she says. "That's the number one hardest thing. The competition wasn't the hardest thing. I loved the competition. It's being trapped in a fish bowl... having someone right there catching everything."
Despite the drama, the grueling schedule and the constant filming, Henley kept her eye on the prize. "The real competition begins when the show ends," she'd tell herself. When her journey on America's Next Top Model ended, she started writing business plans for her future.
Magnifique, the company she started, works closely with models by referral only. They assist with workshops, branding, contracts, look books and much more. Partnering with others in the fashion industry, Henley started building her roster. Magnifique looks to book a wide variety of models -- any size, shape, age, height, race, etc. "A big platform of mine was inspired by diversity," Henley says. "Not limiting it to a specific range or body type. You know, the blonde girl with the small nose and blue eyes who is razor thin." While she acknowledges the beauty in models with that look, Henley is very passionate about acknowledging all types of beauty.
While the fashion industry is growing more dynamic, there is still some prejudice in terms of sizeism and ageism. While curvy models are becoming more accepted, petite models struggle a lot. According to Henley, models over a certain age are rare as well. However, there are some women breaking the barriers. "You wear your first outfit when you're a newborn; and in your 90s you don't just stop wearing clothes," Henley says. "When you see a billboard, you want to see people that look like you."
While the look of a model is important in this industry, it's not the only relevant factor. "One part is the tenacity of the model. It makes a huge difference... My number one piece of advice to models in the industry is to be persistent," Henley says. "You're not going to be right for one company... Refuse to give up if you really love what you're doing and you believe in it."
Henley is very passionate about helping new and aspiring models. She encourages anyone considering a career in the fashion industry to reach out to her. She loves networking, collaborating and looking at portfolios. You can follow her on Instagram @victoriahenley or on Facebook at Facebook.com/quirkyvictoriafanpage. Aspiring models can also email her directly at email@example.com.
In addition to being selected out of 36,000 people to ultimately become Top 5 on Cycle 19 of America's Next Top Model, Victoria Henley has also modeled for internationally acclaimed designers/retailer labels and magazines including Mara Hoffman, Nicole Miller, Macy's, Vogue Italia, Runway, Seventeen, Modern Hair and Beauty and many more.
After years of building a strong base of design and editorial contacts, Henley began teaching model workshops and assisting models of all ages, shapes and sizes with building their portfolios, resumes, reels and finding agents. She soon built a large roster of models and started Magnifique Fashion Shows and the Magnifique Company LLC to give models (as well as designers, retailers and stylists) the opportunity to build their resumes, be featured in international magazines, network and be featured on runways across the US.
Through her Magnifique platform, Henley has grown a roster of over 1,500 models, designers and retailers. She maintains true to her body-positive message and non discriminatory policies by booking and working with models of all genders, ages, shapes and sizes.
If you are a model or designer who would like to be featured in an upcoming Magnifique Fashion Show/Competition, please contact Victoria Henley at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Connecting with fans and aspiring industry professionals is one of the aspects Henley loves most about her job, and she hopes to hear from you soon!
Heather Hollermann is a freelance writer focused on creativity and personal style. She is a strong believer that fashion is a way of expressing yourself -- a dynamic work of art in which you live. When she isn't working on her novel, Heather can be found reading, shopping, traveling, and binge-watching television series. She is a lover of history, dark lipstick, and baked goods.