Sofiya Stasiv: Learning to Become a Model in New York City


I imagined my journey to New York to become a model for MONTHS. I was inspired by some bold friends who had been “discovered” in New York. I mainly chose to venture to New York because of their validating words claiming that I had the right “look” to be a model.

Prior to arrival, I dedicated much time to collecting addresses, finding contact information, sending emails, and filling out modeling applications. Anxiously, I was ready to be brave and see if this Arkansas girl had the potential to be noticed.

Needless to say, the premeditated scenarios I had created in my head were nothing like the reality of the city of Manhattan, where all of the modeling agencies are located. Manhattan overwhelmed me. I became nervous, questioning every aspect of myself, wondering if I was worthy of grabbing the attention of these well-known agencies. The fear was building up rapidly. I felt as if I was over my head trying to make my far-fetched dream come true.

My adventures began with attending my first open model call.  After searching Google maps for the location, I noticed a mysterious door that had no label. I opened the door to a single hallway with two elevators. Luckily, there was a little bulletin board that displayed the studios within the building and my modeling agency was on the 4th floor. Entering the agency, I was shocked. The room was the size of the Honors College Forum (a little bigger than a standard classroom), but split into three sections. A studio, a conference room, and a miscellaneous room made up this entire space. All the rooms were about the size of your average honors dorm room.

Next came the open call. First, models of different shapes, sizes, genders, and ages took turns being interviewed in front of everyone. Then, standard full length, waist up, and side profile photos were taken of each model. And lastly, models would then get silently graded on their modeling talents based on the portfolio photos that they would present to the casting director. The casting director was full of energy and seemed interested in what everyone had to share, but in the end, he was very stern in terms of how we would be contacted if we sparked an interest. He put emphasis on not calling the agency. No call back meant we hadn’t made it, with no explanation why. I went through this whole process twice more with other agencies. Sadly, I did not get any callbacks. I wish I had been able to attend more open calls, but many agencies do not host open calls because so many people want to become models in New York.

The rest of my days consisted of entering over 12 different modeling agencies to gain additional information about becoming a model. I had hoped by entering unannounced I’d grab somebody’s attention. However, I was never able to get past reception. Some of the receptionists were very kind and took pictures of me, asked me to write down my information on a post-it note, told me agents would call if interested, then would give me a list of other agencies to go see in the city. Other receptionists were very straight with me. Needless to say, I was discouraged.

The trip to New York taught me to persevere in my actions. I learned that having connections in New York is everything. I learned that rejection is part of life. Nothing in life happens by only trying once, but for some reason, I thought it would for me. I learned about the person I can be when outside of my comfort zone. I learned that the city is not for the weak. I learned that time and patience is everything. I was disappointed that things did not go my way while in the massive city, but, honestly, what was I expecting? I will continue to find inspiration within myself as far as where I wish to get with my modeling career. Until then I will be flashing my face in your local Arkansas magazines, commercials, and Instagram feed.