Name: Anzie Dasabe
Agency: We Speak Models
Claim to Fame: Dasabe has been featured in Women’s Health, Vogue Mexico, and The Fader. She has also walked the runway for Christopher Johns Rogers, appeared in a GAP ad, and recorded an EP.
Anzie Dasabe started her career plotting. “I started modeling when I was about nine years old. I saw a modeling school called John Casablancas. I was like, okay, I’m going to force my parents to let me do this,” she told HelloBeautiful.
Like any model, she understood how to hook her audience.“My parents are African, so anything with school they were like, okay, cool. She wants to get her education,” she recalled with a slight chuckle.
Dasabe was popular with clients and her “actual friends,” at school but a few classmates had negative opinions about her unconventional choice of extracurricular activity. “Other people that I went to school with didn’t really understand,” she said. “They thought I was ugly. They didn’t think that I should be doing what I was doing. They didn’t think that people who look like me should be attempting it.” Her peers’ malice briefly motivated her. “It kind of fueled my fire a little bit because for a long time I wanted to prove them wrong,” she admitted. She eventually became so focused on their success she let go of their criticism. “Proving people wrong. Doesn’t bring you the satisfaction. The work brings you satisfaction,” she said.
“I want an Olympic career. Honestly. I want to be a supermodel at some point.”
Dasabe took to auditioning easily. She learned to think about the client’s goals and protect her business interests with tips she acquired from the program’s curriculum. “It taught me a lot about how to carry myself. It taught me a lot about how to talk to people while I’m at work,” she said. “ I was like the youngest person in my class and everybody else was like 18 and older. So I was in this quite odd period of young girlhood, but they were teaching me how to carry myself like a young woman.” In addition to learning “to be fluid in front of the camera,” she was taught to ensure her contracts were “things I actually want to sign.”
Modeling schools are occasionally dismissed as scams but Dasabe’s participation in the program helped her spot potential professional pitfalls. “They taught me about finder’s fees and I’m really thankful for that because nobody in your group likes to talk about that,” she said. She broke down how models could unknowingly place themselves in perilous positions when collaborating with other creatives. “Basically photographers, stylists, anyone that has some sort of status in the modeling industry could say, ‘okay, I found this model, I’m going to present her to a huge agency because, you know, I think she deserves it.’ So boom, the model gets signed, the agency gets 20% and that person takes 10% for a certain amount of years or months because they got you that position, that agency.”
Dasabe was fully prepared to pose when she began booking jobs at thirteen. “I wasn’t nervous because I did a lot of test shoots,” she said. She was more concerned with navigating her way through “watercooler talk,” with Southern based department store executives in the catalogs she was shooting for brands like JCPenney. “I was more scared of interacting with the client for the first time,” she said. “That always seemed to be like this distant thing that I was never going to really have to deal with.” The experience was unnerving. “It just felt very odd to be so grown up,” she added.
The awkwardness served her well as her career grew. “I’m actually really thankful for it. It taught me how to talk to people,” she said. “It taught me how to not be afraid and voice my discomforts.” Because of those experiences she is able to maintain her boundaries on sets. “Just because you’re paying my paycheck. It doesn’t mean that like, I’m just going to sit here and do whatever you want. I’m still a human being.”
The experiences helped her advocate for herself when she was ready to take her career to the next level. When her first agency did not meet her needs in the New York market she quickly jumped ship. “I felt like my agency wasn’t fighting hard enough for me to these other agencies. They weren’t talking me up enough. They weren’t showing my potential. So I decided to leave that agency. And I freelanced,” she said.
She supported herself by working with casting directors she networked with using the skills she picked up in school. “They were my saving grace.” After meeting with other agencies Dasabe landed at We Speak Models, where she remains happy today. “We Speak was able to provide me with the experience of having an agent that listens to me,” she said.
When she began showing up in the pages of publications including Women’s Health, Vogue Mexico and the Fader and stomping the New York Fashion Week runway for designers like Vaquera and Jamall Osterholm she was too busy to clapback at former bullies looking to leverage her success. “They’ve definitely tried to get things out of me or try to get me to introduce them to people or create relationships with them so that they can pitch their own work or their own projects. But I just acted like I didn’t see it. I left it in the inbox. I left it on read. I don’t even open it,” she said.
“I just feel like there’s, there’s no reason for me to engage.”