This is the twelfth post in my series of monthly posts where I speak with people in the creative industries and ask them questions about the things that "I Wish I Had Known" when I started out as a creative myself.
Today I have the honour of chatting with British model Nicola Griffin about how opportunities arise when you least expect them and about what is it like to pursue a career in modelling after a certain age:
1. When we met a few years ago, you had recently started modelling at a very unconventional age. Can you tell us a bit about your story?
I first started modelling when I was 53. A lady asked me in the bank if I would do a photo shoot for a new shampoo product called white hot hair. This launched me into the modelling world and I was approached by an agent to be represented. Not long after, I was lucky enough to get a job with a company called Swimsuits For All in the USA.
2. From the cue at the bank to being flown to the Caribbean for a photo shoot with the one and only Ashley Graham to be featured together on Sports Illustrated! And then the cover of Bazaar, and countless advertising campaigns, editorials and catalogues. How does it feel to be part of this new pro-diversity movement in the industry?
It is really inspiring to be part of this as I represent older women in the fashion industry. I was the first woman to appear in Sports Illustrated magazine at the age of 56. Which I'm very proud of! It's a wonderful feeling to be part of this movement showing diversity in every age, size and race.
3. What sort of opportunities are there in the industry for models starting out later in life?
I think they're all sorts of opportunities out there now for older models. Things are improving all the time and I do believe anything is possible and anything can happen. I am living proof!
4. Modelling is a tough job that requires a strong will, very thick skin and a heck-of-a-lot of self-confidence. Still, people, in general, have the misconception that modelling is an easy job where you just have to look pretty. Can you describe what a career in modelling is about?
Trying to describe what modelling is all about it's quite difficult. What I would say is it's really fabulous when you're on a shoot with wonderful people in a beautiful place and it's really the most wonderful thing to be actually making a living doing something that is truly amazing. However, it's lots of hard work. The downsides, of course, are the travelling, the delayed flights, the arriving at your hotel at midnight and having an early call at 4 AM. It's hectic and you're under pressure.
5. How much of making it in the industry is about working hard in promoting yourself to modelling and casting agencies and how much is it being at the right place at the right time?
I think that to make it in the industry involves a lot of good luck and a lot of hard work and being in the right place at the right time. Promoting yourself on Instagram and Facebook and all the social platforms is important in today's industry. Castings can be tough, the feeling of rejection when you've not been chosen can be quite upsetting but you have to move on quickly, pick yourself up, dust yourself down and tomorrow is a new day.
6. What would you suggest to starting models on how to start their careers? How does one become a model?
I think if you are starting out as a model today I would suggest getting some good photos together and start looking for an agent and agency that would suit you and your style and your strengths. Work hard and believe in yourself, stay true to yourself, be brave and be strong because you're going to need it.
7. You are represented by some of the biggest agencies in the industry, both in the UK and the US. What is the role of an agency for a model?
The role of the agency that represents you is to guide you and nurture you, to get you the best deals from the client and look out for you. They take care of your travel arrangements, check your tickets and check your hotel, check you got everything, they make sure that you're getting the jobs that suit you and the client is happy. And, most importantly, that you're happy. That's a lot for the agency to do to look out for you so picking the right agency is very important.
8. As a mother yourself, what message would you send parents whose children are interested in modelling on how to navigate the industry?
As a mother of two daughters, I always pushed for them to finish their education when they showed interest in modelling. It was very important to me that they were not distracted from their studies. I did tell them many times that when they finished their A-levels we would all get a shoot together by a photographer. But that never happened. They then went off to university and now they are in full-time employment. But, had they have been interested in the industry I would've given them all my support.
9. We are living in times when models careers are longer than they ever were. Where do you see your career going?
I do look forward to being in the industry for a very long time! I'm hoping I can continue working well into my 80's, maybe even 90's... how wonderful would that be!
Thank you so much, Nicky! Thank you for being so fabulous and taking part in my column to help me understand what modelling in your 50's is all about. This is everything that "I Wish I Had Known"!