Joy Kingsley Talks Agency Business, models of color, and more!! (August Cover Feature)
We sat down with Kingsley model agency founder and director Joy for a Q & A on what it's like behind the scenes of model life, signing a big influencer , and tips for models of color
I : Joy tell us a little about you
A: I’m Joy Kingsley-Ibeh, owner and founder of Kingsley Model & Talent Management. To say fashion is my world, is an understatement. My life experiences are a combination of African, European and American influences which I bring into my world as an agent. From my birthplace in Nigeria, to a small flat in London, I’ve been blessed to live abroad, and travel the world. With over 20 years of experience in the fashion industry as a model and personal image consultant, opening a modeling agency was a natural transition.
Q : What inspired you to get into the agency and management business sector
A : My experience as a model inspired me to take the plunge. I wanted to build an agency that was for models by models. A agency that treated talent with respect, kindness, transparency and honesty. When I modeled, I didn’t feel truly connected with the agents I worked with, so I wanted to make sure my talent knew I was always available to them, and that they could have a real relationship with me. That was very important for me to create a family environment because it’s take a family to grow. One of our hashtags is #kingsleyfamily, and we mean it
Q : Do you focus more on commercial or fashion models
A : Right now we focus on both! Initially when we launched we received more fashion bookings because we had more fashion talent. But as we have grown our board, we have opened our opportunities to the commercial market and we are gaining an equal amount of commercial work which was my goal
Q :Where are you based
A : We are based out of Washington DC
Q : What do you look for in casting a new model
A : We pay attention to what our clients are requesting and try to fill the niche. Diversity is very important to me, whether is looking for petite models, models of color, unique commercial talent etc. I’m always seeking talent with unique looks and diverse backgrounds, who have a passion for the industry and a desire to work hard.
Q :as a black owned business, in this industry what do you look to bring and correct to the marginalization models of color face.
A: Because we are a full service agency, whenever I’m in a position to book not only the model, but the hair and makeup team. I make it a point to know who the models are, and ensure that I book artists that are skilled with their hair and complexion. It makes the entire team comfortable and confident because the model knows that they will look their best and the artists will be able to execute the look direction. I always take into account my audience when booking and communicating with my talent. However, I would like to see artists who want to have careers in the fashion industry, learn how to work with all hair textures and complexions. It only serves to make them more marketable and will help bridge that gap that women of color face in the industry.
Q : As a black female business owner and manager of a modeling agency, what specifically for models of color have you noticed being a unique factor they deal with disproportionately to other ethnic groups.
A: There are many things that are challenging for women of color. But one issue that stands out to me is that we are still dealing with the issue of hairstylist and makeup artist not being equipped or experienced enough to manage the different hair textures and varying skin complexions of women of color. I went through that problem when I was a model, and I find that models are still going through it today, and it’s disappointing. Women of color still have to show up with their hair as manageable as possible or bring their entire makeup kit because they know they may have to sneak off to the bathroom and fix their makeup. It’s really sad because it leaves those models feeling less than and forces them to face their difference and “otherness” in an industry and situation that is based on image.
Q: What unique strengths do you feel more models of color should lean on to break in or excel in the model industry.
A : Women of color need to stay strong and have thick skin, which is nothing new. And they need to maintain their confidence about who they are in all settings, no matter what. Understanding that they are in an industry that wasn’t created for them, and they need to ensure that they create their own lane and press on. Have a back up plan and always show up to a shoot or fashion show prepared with everything they need. I think women of color should be over prepared rather than hoping that the client has considered all aspects of who they are.
Q : Do you feel inclusion has truly hit the model industry or is it a conversation for show?
A: I feel that women and men of color are making noise, and the industry is listening. There are always going to be those who don’t want change, or who resist it. But I believe the overarching message is being heard, and changes are being made. It may be small changes, but we have to keep fighting.
Q : What advice would you give a 16-18 yr old model in this day an age.
A. Figure out what type of modeling you want to do, AND if you fit that market. Then study your craft. Take classes, research models who are similar to you, and practice practice practice. Incorporate all social media as a stepping stone for leverage, much like we are doing wit our new model Daniella Salvi who features on the cover with me.
Q : What struggles have you faced as a black business owner, and what advice do you have for the future agents coming after you.
A : My challenges which has always been my challenge in the work force as a women of color, is always having to prove myself and my worthiness to be in the industry, get a promotion or hold a position. I find that I have to work harder to be noticed, and to always do my best to keep a positive attitude and brand. There isn’t room for failure, because our failure is louder and “expected”. I do everything in my power to work hard, stay humble, and let my work speak for itself.
Q : How can an aspiring model get in touch with you ?