Monster Management model booker Jacqui: ” Modelling is not a game, you have to take it seriously. So go to bed early, wake up early. Learn how to accept and love yourself if you want to go forward.”. After years of modelling, model ‘mum’ Jacqui tells model and journalist Deborah about her transition from model to booker.
People say it all the time: “It’s all about the inside.” But this business really shows the visual effects of what’s on the inside – coming out. It is really, really obvious.
After her working hours for Monster Management, Milans first boutique model agency, Jacqui and I were supposed to go for aperitivo – you know, that thing where all Italian bars offer you a drink for about € 8 and provide you unlimited walking buffet at the side. We met at her place, just at a stone throw away from Corso Buenos Aires. But … It started to pour! Half an hour later Jacqui’s table was stuffed with a skinny chicken-spinach dish and fresh fruits served with vanilla ice cream for dessert. My convo with this quick problem solving former model, mum of Markey, and now modelmum for the upcoming, started.
D: You were born and raised in Canada and did all the necessary city hopping in your years as a full-time model. What made you stay in Milan?
J: I was living in New York as a base for 8 years. In November and December I would always go to Milan, as that was a good period for me. Along came September eleven and all the work stopped. So everybody had to leave New York, and as it was close to November anyways I went to Milan earlier and met my now husband.
J: Ping! Hahaha. Fell in love, went back to New York in March to say good bye to all my friends and left my cats with somebody else to move to Milan forever. Everyone was like: “You are crazy! You’re gonna be back, you’re gonna be back.” But …
D: You’re still here!
J: So far, not back. Hahaha.
D: Is Milan very different to New York for living?
J: Coming as a model, you don’t get that much into the culture: you come, you go to bars, you go to nightclubs. You see the same type of people that you’d probably see in New York anyways. Right? But once I was married and I had a son? That’s when the shock came. Like:
“Holy shit! What have I done? There was no way back now…”
D: What shocked you the most?
J: Being a mother, I think. Raising your son here, you realize Italy is different from America. So different! The culture, the thought process. Ofcourse, the language. But it is about what becomes before the language. The whole everything. There is nothing similar.
I’d go to the casting, seeing all those girls with size zero or minus two, or whatever… I’d feel enormous, uncomfortable and unhappy.
D: How did you decide on swobbing modelling for being a booker?
J: First I had to close that door that kept me modelling. Which is, I think, a big crisis for every model. *Laughs*, the thing is, if you’re living in the capital city and you are trying to do something else, the agency will still call you. Even after I had my son and had gained weight they’d be calling me: “Can you please, please, go to this one casting? They are looking for somebody a little bit bigger. I’d go to the casting, seeing all those girls with size zero or minus two, or whatever… I’d feel enormous, uncomfortable and unhappy. I’d ask myself: why are you still doing this? But the next day they’d be asking me again to please go to the casting for this campaign that pays 20.000. The same uncomfortable situation would happen again. And again. But sometimes you’d book the job. And that’s why you don’t close the door, completely. That’s why you don’t start that new chapter.
D: Obviously you’ve started a new chapter by now. How?
J: I started working part time. In a showroom, as a seller. I’d work three months, and then I had three months to do whatever I wanted. When I was out of this seasonal showroom I started working in production companies to help out with production. This was no-pay, or almost no-pay.
D: Like an internship?
J: Well, exactly. I didn’t know how to do anything, except modelling. I mean, I knew the business but I din’t know exactly. So I started learning in a production company, where I could still do a job once in a while. After that I started working for Rafaële. A photographer here, you’ve met him. As his studio assistent I took care of the castings, the finances and all of that. After one year I was already bored. I mean it was really good; it taught me everything I needed to learn. But I felt like I needed something new. So I just tried.
D: Tell me about it …
J: I went to the agencies that I already knew, and to ones that I had friends with. Asked them if it was possible, and I even ended up with opportunities to choose from. I chose one. And as my own agency wouldn’t take me as a booker it wasn’t them.
And once I had started working for an other agency, my agency finally stopped calling. I finally closed that door!
D: *High fives Jacqui*, but wait, your agency wouldn’t take you?
J: Nah-ah. Because I was with Fashion, and their method for bookers is to start at the very bottom. Always. Every booker that has started at their table, started at the bottoms bottom.
D: What exactly is the bottoms bottom?
J: The bottom, in Fashion, is at the cutting room. They used to have a room where all the magazines arrived. The assistent would go through all of them to ‘cut out’ their girls. All she ever does is collecting tearsheets and putting them into the models’ files so they could go into their portfolio’s. One room. Endless files.
I never felt really comfortable as a model. I never felt beautiful. Never ever.
D: So you skipped that step and went right to the booking table. Did you always feel like that’s where you belonged?
J: Yes, I skipped those four steps. Hmm. I modelled from my 15th untill I was 25, then I had the baby and did a couple more years of serious modelling. But I never felt really comfortable as a model. *Thinks* I never felt beautiful. Never ever.
D: No!? But, *points at Jacquis wall covered with her photographed memories*, look at your wall!
J: Now I do. I feel happy and comfortable now, but I am no longer beautiful like I was when I was 16. I went to a very high level very quickly, and I never felt like I deserved to be where I was. Everybody would be saying “Oh, you’re so beautiful!”. But I never understood and I was never happy with it. But, getting back to your question, I’ve always had the thought “What are my bookers doing? That could be interesting.”. So it seemed pretty natural when I started. I immediately loved what I was doing. Plus, having had the experience myself, I could understand what the models were going through and talk to them about it.
D: I remember myself being comfortable with you for that reason. Shouldn’t all agencies have a Jacqui on their team?
J: Thank you! For sure. I mean, the agency would do better. A while ago, on a scouting trip in New York, I already noticed the big new thing was to say: “We’re a boutique”. And Italy is always kind of behind everyone else, but it’s arriving here now too. Ours (Monster, red.) was the very first boutique agency in Milan. Meaning a very caring, family oriented, small, boutique agency. And if that’s what the new slogan is, than yes, that’s what we should have. Somebody that’s been there and done it.
D: How does a fresh, new boutique agency like Monster get the big girls on board?
J: The very big girls now? They are often signed with IMG or an other world wide network. But the aspiring to be, the upcoming, or just big now are all looking for boutique agencies. Cause honestly, they’re all a bit weird. They all got problems. Like, hello.
So they all got issues and feel the need to be loved and properly understood.
D: What, why?
J: Hmm… *Takes a bite of fresh fruit*, one thing I noticed is that most models do not come from a happy family. Cause if you do, you’re not gonna leave home that easily at sixteen. So they all got issues and feel the need to be loved and properly understood. And so they need an agency that is flexible with their temperament and is willing to bend over backwards for them. Cause they’re not gonna get that from a big agency.
I understand what the girls are going through. With the whole self-esteem, the growing process of yourself and learning to appreciate yourself.
D: Would it be hard to do the same job if you hadn’t been there and done it?
J: I mean, yes, I understand what the girls are going through. With the whole self-esteem, the growing process of yourself and learning to appreciate yourself. And I feel like most bookers don’t always do. Even my colleagues, when a model is having a difficult time and she doesn’t wanna do this or that, they’d be like “Omg, what’s her problem? She just wants time off all the time and she doesn’t care about the money. I don’t understand!”
Well … They can’t understand. Because they don’t get it’s not the physical work that is difficult. It’s about the whole mental process. You’re dealing with a lot of issues at a young age. And being a model you can’t say “Oh, I’ll deal with that later”. No, you have to deal with it. Now. Learning to appreciate and understand yourself is, I think, the biggest thing that modelling teaches you.
Modelling just really forces you to get over yourself and deal with who you are.
D: A precious lesson school can’t teach you.
J: It’s a very, very good lesson. And I see many adults that have never done modelling, and still haven’t got to that stage at 50. Modelling just really forces you to get over yourself and deal with who you are. Cause if you don’t, you will not continue modelling. You will just, stop.
D: People say it all the time: “It’s all about the inside.”…
J: Exactly. But here you really, really see the visual effects of what’s on the inside – coming out. You have to go to castings. And if you’re beautiful, but miserable on the inside, well, you’re not gonna get the job.
D: Is there any advice you can give to get that inside right?
J: As we discussed before. Modelling is not a game, you have to take it seriously. So go to bed early, wake up early. Learn how to except and love yourself if you want to go forward. Yeah. Learn to accept yourself. But the world will throw things on your path to make you do so. Every single day. Until you do.
Thank you for this interview Deborah and Jacqui!
Q: Do you recognize Jacqui’s experiences as a model?
All images belong to Jacqui.