Four months ago, case I finally wrote and sent my resignation letter to my mother agency.
I remember that night perfectly; I had just gotten back to my friends house from doing a presentation for two designers during New York Fashion Week in September. My hair, a hard shell at that point, was tightly pulled into a “sleek” yet lopsided bun, with hair extensions practically bobby pinned into my skull.
I spent an hour trying to keep myself from breaking down while on the subway out of pure frustration. There comes a time when you have to realize your worth and what you’re willing to allow to continue. There were many signs telling me that I needed to leave my agency, and that show experience was my last straw.
After fashion week was over, I promised myself that I’d come back to New York to pursue a career in modeling on my own terms. And I did. Being represented by an agency in New York means better job opportunities and chances to expand my brand, and I needed to make it happen, even if it meant doing so on my own.
A month after returning to my home in Georgia, I bought a $10 plane ticket from JetBlue- thanks to having travel bank credit- and was back in New York to carry out my plan. My boyfriend Maurice came with me shortly after to pursue his career goals as well, so it felt like things were going into the right direction. I knew having faith in God, ourselves, and our goals was the only way we could accomplish them.
I came back to New York on October 14th, and didn’t leave until December 11th.
It honestly felt like the Universe was literally keeping me in New York. I didn’t know this at the time, but staying in New York for a week wasn’t enough, and I needed to stay longer.
During our first week, we job searched. I attended a few agencies that held open calls, and Maurice networked, emailed, and met with people in his field. It was great. It felt like we were in the right place at the right time making it happen for ourselves, in the city full of opportunities, just like we had planned.
I didn’t go to as many agency open calls as I could have during the first week, but the ones I did go see either told me to “come back in three to six months”, “no, but thanks for coming”, or a personal favorite, that “I was beautiful but my look didn’t fit their agency.” There were, however, two agencies who were interested in me, but that was also an eventual “no.”
Rejection is a huge part of the business, so them’s the breaks. You just have to remember your worth, stay strong, and keep trying until you find what you’re looking for.
A week went by. We were low on money, and couldn’t afford to buy tickets for both of us to get back to Georgia. One week turned into two, and two turned into three. My friend’s roommate eventually came back from her trip, and my boyfriend and I moved to the couch in the living room. It’s one thing to struggle and be able to hide away in a room, out of the way… but it’s kinda hard to do that when you’re sleeping in someone else’s living room.
I’m a pretty independent person, so asking for help and depending on others wasn’t easy for me. I felt like a burden, out of control, afraid of uncertainty and failure.
Even though things were difficult, my boyfriend and I were okay. We still had a place to sleep, food to eat, clean water to drink, a roof over our heads, and friends/family who were willing to help us during our extended stay when they didn’t have to.
My boyfriend went back to Georgia during our third week, and I stayed in New York. After he left, I went back and forth from my friend’s place in Washington Heights, to my family members in Brooklyn and New Jersey.
Halloween, Thanksgiving, my boyfriend’s birthday, and the presidential election (gags) past- and I was still in New York.
But it was during these times where some pretty amazing things happened.
I entered Galore Magazine’s Girl Cult Instagram contest for a chance to attend their awesome party. Plot twist: I was one of the 25 winners who were chosen to attend.
And get this- I was scouted by Elena Miska, designer and art director over at Milk Makeup, and was asked if I would be interested in working with them. Of course my answer was yes, and I gave her my information. I was so excited and thankful! It only takes one moment to change a situation.
Soon after, I was casted for a photoshoot with Ace and Everett. I went from being “broke as shit” girl to “being able to afford two winter coats from Zara… and some curry” girl within two days.
If I hadn’t made the decision to get out of my comfort zone and take a leap of faith, I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to grow as a person, or have the career opportunities that I did.
Life taught me how to let go of my need for control at all times, and that asking for (and accepting) help wasn’t a sign of weakness, but maturity. Sometimes you need to take a different route to get to your destination. It won’t be easy, but nothing worth having is.
Written by Teresa Johnson
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