Name: Tanya Angelique
Agency: Take 3 Talent
Claim to Fame:
Tanya Angelique grew up in one of the only places one can view models in the wild. Brooklyn born and Long Island bred she was in awe of the models she saw stalking the streets and sitting on magazine stands. In an exclusive interview with Hello Beautiful she talked about finding her place in fashion, dealing with racist gatekeepers, and refusing to be sidelined by rejection.
The apex of her inspiration came with one of the most iconic covers of the millennial generation.
“I saw Chanel Iman and Jourdan Dunn on a Teen Vogue cover- together. I was ten years old and saw Teen Vogue with Chanel [Iman] and Jourdan [Dunn] and I was like I’m modeling. There’s no way! And so, I told my mom like ‘You need to put me in anything involving modeling.’”
Her zeal for getting started ended up costing the family some coins. “I got involved in a few of those scams that they have in the mall and then we quickly realized that wasn’t real.” She bounced back quickly seeking every avenue she could to make a name for herself on her own, including Instagram, a new resource at the time she was starting out as a teen. “I just kept looking and reaching out.”
Eventually she reached out to Racquel “Coco” Mills who placed her in her first runway show. “When I was 15, I did my first runway show because of Instagram. That’s when Instagram started to really become popping. I saw someone was casting for a fashion show, Racquel Mills, she’s a young Black designer she’s amazing.”
She followed up her debut at Mills’ Viva La Coco with a continued commitment to getting signed and didn’t let the constant rejection deter her from her path, understanding that casting feedback for a model was nothing more than a performance review. “I see a lot of models they get very upset when they don’t book the shoot they don’t book the job, when they don’t get the agency but that is a part of the job and its actually something that helps you grow because every time I get rejected I’m like ‘Okay I need to step my game up.”
Even though she spends hours in the gym and has spent countless hours practicing her skills she knows that sometimes no matter how hard you work you’re just not right for the shoot.
“You could go to all the open calls you want but if you don’t have the look that’s trending at the moment or it’s just not your time yet then it’s just not gonna happen. So, I went to tons of open calls. I went to all the agencies and I got turned down like round after round after round. I was in the suburbs like I need to move. I need to figure out how I’m gonna do this I would get on the train and I would pay my own money to go to all the open castings.”
Despite her passion she was always clear that modeling was a career path and not the sum of who she was. She stayed grounded by “being around family being around friends and just remembering that this doesn’t make who you are.”
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She saw social media as a tool and not the measure of her success. “Just because you are a model that doesn’t mean all of your self-worth is based off of likes.”
When she wasn’t attending traditional go sees she was wrestling her way into fashion related events. She showed up at “anything I could find just to get a taste of it in the beginning.”
“I used to sneak into fashion week just to watch.” She learned what was considered normal and professional from these excursions. She observed Pat McGrath managing her team without raising her voice at them, and Gigi Hadid hanging out while waiting for last looks.
“You just see the way people act and just the mannerisms, just how people speak and how just the culture is. It was just amazing to see like just the bright lights, the models, and all of the clothes. It was like ‘Wow! This is real life!’”
She avoided the allure of the bright lights while networking and advises other models to do the same. “Don’t fall into the trap of oh it’s the fashion industry lets go out to every party every night. You definitely don’t wanna do that or you’re gonna get lost in the sauce.”
Her method of learning is still a common practice. “A lot of people are still sneaking into fashion week just standing outside to see if someone will let them in,” she revealed. The industry has let her in all the way. She’s booked runways shows, print ads, and commercials. She credits part of her recent success to choosing to work with agency that doesn’t marginalize the potential of black models, a recurring issue in the industry.
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“As a young Black woman, you feel like you don’t know if there’s a place for you cause in this industry there’s a lot of like ‘Oh we just need one black girl for this job. We just need one black girl for the agency. Oh, we have enough. But it’s important to have an agent that understands there’s a job for everyone.”
She praised her agents for being “aggressive” in seeking opportunities for her and challenged other model representatives to rethink their perspective of client expectations.
“There’s so many clients, so many castings. That one drop rule that they have ‘Oh we just need one. We just need two I think that’s outdated at this point. So that’s important for agents to understand that because I still get that. Oh, we have one. We already have a black girl with an afro. We already have this look already. This again? It’s important for people to understand. No! You can have ten, twenty, and they can still books jobs. There’s enough for everybody and if they don’t have enough jobs, they should make more jobs to include everyone.”
The idea that the modeling industry should better represent the world it seeks to persuade is not a new one but it’s usually watch dog organizations leading the charge and not working models. “I just feel like there might be more space for just more! More inclusivity and more access for people to join the industry, because right now it’s just such a closed community and it’s just so hard for people who are not a part of it to just join in. It should just be easier.”
Angelique is so passionate about it she plans to develop her own agency in the future to pursue the more she envisions. She’s partly inspired by McGrath’s entrepreneurship. “I love her,” she squealed. “Like how inspiring is that? A black woman, a curvy plus size woman, and she’s a boss.”