Name: Althea Smith
Agency: Seeking Representation
Claim to fame: Smith was chosen as one of five Hello Beautiful readers who graced the runway at this year’s first ever Curvy Noire event. She has also booked herself on segments on The Wendy Williams Show and Dr. OZ without an agent or a manager!
“Be yourself everyone else is already taken,” the phrase emblazoned in neon ink on the business cards of model Althea Smith was meant to advocate for authenticity. What she didn’t know was the potential of her authenticity to be isolating.
In an exclusive interview with Hello Beautiful the CurvyNoire model search winner and business owner recalled her previous experience model and advocated for the need for diversity on every runway.
Smith is a self-represented model who hustles on the daily to find out about upcoming gig, combing sites like Craigslist and sharing information with her friends in the business including former Model Monday subject Chrisandra Wells. “I reached out to agencies so I can get signed, right now I freelance so I get all my jobs my self.“
She has no problem looking for work on her own. A former fashion student at a popular technical college she picked up knowledge that she is able to apply in propelling her career to the next level. Some of that knowledge includes being able to see the Despite having a ton of grassroots experience walking and fitting for designers like Michi Knitwear, Classic Royalty, Jibri Online, Elila Full Figure Jordan Taylor, Sasha Uzuri, and Etched Lingerie she still took it upon herself to enter Hello Beautiful’s search on the off chance that it might introduce her killer walk to a whole new audience.
What does pose a problem for her is that after she shows up and shows out at a casting, the designer often does not bother to do the same on the day of the show. She described the experience of finding a designer who hired her has nothing appropriate for her to wear as “very disappointing,”
“Especially if I cast for the show because obviously they like what they see so I would think they have something for me to wear.”
The last of preparation designers can show their plus-size models is not only infuriating, it has a financial impact because Smith could be on other jobs where she is valued. “First of all it’s a waste of my time,” she stated. “If I did my party showing up and providing you with my measurements ,you should have also done your part making sure that you have something that would work with me. So that’s how I feel disappointed.”
CurvyNoire was unlike these shows as it was focused on celebrating women of all sizes and not tokenizing them including Smith who stalked the runway like a seasoned professional. “I liked that the designers had fun and fashionable pieces for us, so that was really cool and there was more than one designer that had pieces for us.”
The show was unlike many others Smith had done in that it presented a variety of women who might have been told their looks were “too similar” to appear on other runways. Often when chosen from a casting she searched for she would find she was the only one to appear with the “straight size models,” and in that triumph was a little frustration.
“The power of modeling is so people can see that there’s more than one thing just like how they have the Victoria’s Secret show they could have twenty white girls that all look the same. Five of them look a little different, five of them could have red hair, you know what I’m saying it’s about the diversity of us too. A lot of the times they have one plus girl or one black girl. They want to put us in this category like that one token plus girl that one token black girl and I kind of want to be added to the roster to show that there’s more than one type of curvy girl.”
In addition to pursuing a modeling career, and promoting fitness from the perspective of a curvy girl, Smith has several other business ventures she is investing into while working to make her dreams come true. “I do makeup, I sell jewelry, and I have a beverages company now.”
That fledgling company Queen Beverages is a nod to her Caribbean heritage, something she values. It offers, “Jamaican inspired beverages sorrel and rum punch.” She says, “we’ll probably be expanding to other things next year.”
She started the business after seeing a hole in the marketplace for authentic options. “Where I am in Mount Vernon, New York aloft of places don’t really have it. Or they have a particular brand and it doesn’t taste like the real thing so I just started making it myself.”
“It’s something that I do for my family. The sorrel is a traditional drink in Caribbean households, especially around the holidays but I like it so much that I drink it year round,” she explained. Friends and family raved about the quality of her offerings and soon she was bottling it up.
Her other streams of income are an expansion of her dreams not a pivot away from them. Walking the CuryNoire runway won’t be the last time you see Smith shine.
“I feel like I haven’t gotten my hands on the right person so I feel like there’s still some hope. I hadn’t done a runway show in a while, and I like to show curvy girls can do it too.”