Meet The New Wave of Models Representing The Underrepresented
Representation matters, in all forms. It’s the driving factor that pushes us to do what we never thought was possible—if they can do it, so can I. New Pandemics, a New York-based casting and management agency created by Cody Chandler, is at the forefront of cultivating representation in the midst of a changing landscape for the modeling industry. With a commitment to increasing LGBTQ+ visibility at its core, the agency caters to brands seeking more inclusion and diversity in their content at a time when particular communities and demographics are still being vastly marginalized. We sat down with five of the models from the New Pandemics roster to talk inclusion, diversity, and why proper representation matters now more than ever before.
I feel like New Pandemics has expanded the way we look at casting people in fashion as a whole allowing space for models to take on lots of different mediums while staying to the essence of who they are. New Pandemics is bringing a genuine feeling of community back to fashion that we haven’t seen since the Studio 54 days. The fact the I can model for big brands like Calvin Klein while working on writing my memoir is a dream come true that I don’t think I would be able to balance with any agency besides New Pandemics. The support I’ve experienced in this community is unlike anything else I’ve seen in the industry in all my years of been modeling. It’s a revival of self-acceptance and I feel so grateful to be at the forefront of this movement.
I would like to think that any success that I’ve ever gotten has been from being myself. When you try to embody what you think others want you to be, you accomplish nothing. I grew up feeling ashamed for my attraction to older men and women—particularly older men. I didn’t feel like I couldn’t be open about who I liked—especially in the skateboarding world. And after years of stifling my identity, and suffering for it, I just said, “Screw it.” I’m a very transparent person, and hopefully that will inspire younger people. Just be yourselves, kids! Embrace your eccentricities, because that’s what makes you special.
It’s a revival of self-acceptance and I feel so grateful to be at the forefront of this movement.
Representation is important in the industry because the more queer people that are represented, the more space that is made for the way queer people live and love is created. Queer people take up a great amount of space within the modeling industry and deserve to have their faces seen, and voices heard amongst everyone else who is given that opportunity.
I hope to influence younger LGBTQ+ children in ways that I’d never experienced growing up. I really believe that the dawn of social media has allowed people to express their voice in ways otherwise not possible. LGBTQ+ kids of this era are able to follow queer people they look up to, I really never had that growing up. I want to be a role model to younger queer kids that encourages them to develop self confidence in their inner and outer voice by the way that I’m outwardly developing these things about myself.
I think that the modeling industry owes everything to the LGBTQ community. Queer people have always been and will always be the backbone of fashion, whether it be the models wearing the clothes or the stylists and designers behind the scenes. For us, quality representations of the queer life are only reparations for the hard work that queer people have put forth to constantly shift the fashion industry and world around us.
I hope that my personal representation of being an androgynous, masculine presenting, non-binary, proud person of color will send a message to young adults around the world that it is okay to be yourself and to love your true being. Growing up, I totally wish I had an image like me to admire and look up to, so I know that by me being a role model for someone, even if I’m just passing them on the street with my partner, I have fulfilled my own childhood dreams.
I think that by highlighting queerness as valuable and necessary within modeling, New Pandemics is carving out space in the industry for models who can’t or won’t compromise their identities/bodies for the sake of a job.
There’s this thing that happens when trans people see each other existing, thriving, succeeding. It’s a powerful conversion of despair into energy. I hope to be someone who, by means of my modeling work and my opportunity to be in the spotlight, can convert some trans girl’s insecurity into defiance. I hope to be someone who challenges cisgender people to reconsider what it is that makes a woman, what makes a beautiful person. I hope to tell a story of abundance, one that says, “Everything you need is inside you already. You are already everything.”
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