Toronto model Stacey McKenzie has walked the runway for international design sensations Alexander McQueen, Christian Lacroix, and Jean-Paul Gaultier. It was a tough road to those glorious runways, however, and Stacey suffered countless rejections on her way up, including one in which a model agent took one look at her book and burst out laughing, inviting his cohorts to join in the fun…all right in front of Stacey.

Walk This Way Workshops is Stacey’s effort to help other girls and women bolster their self-esteem while providing the tools that will lead to a successful modelling career:

“I promised I would use all my expertise and advice to help model hopefuls make it to the next level. That’s where this workshop comes from,” Stacey said at the Spoke Club last weekend where she presented real-life examples of various genres of modelling including high fashion (the typical tall, slim model), plus size, commercial, body parts (hands and feet, for instance) and lingerie. Stacey was adamant that high fashion is only one small avenue into modelling and never to force yourself to embody those proportions if they are not naturally yours. Cory, a featured model agent, concurred:

“We don’t tell people to lose weight. If you’re naturally meant to be a (high fashion) model, great; if you’re not, don’t fight it.” Stacey added: “Find another niche; find another avenue.”

The audience consisted of both aspiring models and curious onlookers: Alannah Verneuil won her spot in the workshop after entering a contest in Verve Girl magazine on why she deserves the opportunity. At 5’1″ she fears height may be an impediment to her desired career. She no doubt benefitted from Stacey’s assuring words: “You have to find your niche. Technically, anybody could be a model.” Tonika, who runs a hip-hop feminist collective called The Medina, was fulfilling her new year’s resolution to “be more adventurous and step outside the safety zone.”

Stacey encouraged her pupils to stay true to themselves: “It’s important to have confidence. I wouldn’t have what I have if I didn’t love and accept myself. Modelling is a cut-throat business so it’s important for you to love and OWN who you are.”

That’s sound advice we can all use.

Read more on Stacey’s workshop here.

Feature Writer
Laura Connell
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