Modelresource (MR): How is London as a city?
Stephanie Wallick (SW): I love it! I absolutely love it here. I like the shopping here, and the nightlife...
It's got a funkiness to it, but still conservative. The guys here are actually polite. People here actually stand on the right side of the escalator so you can walk down the left side. Little things like that seem to add up to making a great city.
Even doing the touristy thing is fun. You know it's funny, I lived here for eight months and all I saw was Buckingham Palace. I was busy working, and partying and whatever, and when I got back to Canada people asked "Did you see this?", and no, I was there forever and didn't even know. And this week I actually went around with a friend from Canada actually, and we gallivanted around the city and went to Westminster Abbey, and all the way to Oxford Circus. You definitely have to do all the tourist stuff while you're here.
MR: What advice would you give models wanting to work in London?
SW: You should come here with an agency that's willing to pay your flight and put you in a model's apartment and put an investment in you.
Coming here on your own savings is really hard because you're operating in Canadian dollars and your savings will be gone. My savings were gone in a month. It's like two, three grand, gone - like that. It's the pound here, right? When you're working in the pound and spending in the pound there's no difference. When you go back to Canada you're laughing. But when you go from the Canadian dollar to here, you're crying.
MR: What about getting around London?
Cabbing is expensive. Take the tube (subway). There's no need for a car here, and when you do have a car they charge you an £8 (eight pound) daily congestion charge. If you have a Vespa or scooter they don't charge you. It's easy to get around that way.
MR: What do clients expect from newcomers?
SW: Come with a good book. If you're younger you can come without a strong book, but I'm 21 now so I'm a middle-aged model. I need a good book if I'm going to come to places like this.
MR: What types of models seems to get the work in London?
That's the cool thing about London is that you can be a little rounder and get away with it - 'rounder' in the modelling world. In Australia they like that too - more athletic.
My friends here call me 'stick,' because compared to the average person I'm extremely tall and extremely thin. But in the modelling world I'm bigger - which is hilarious. Which is why you cannot take this job seriously.
Everything that is said in the modelling world has nothing to do with you. My body is my tool and what's said about it is fine, and has nothing to do with me.
I have model friends that call me up, and they'll be crying "my agent just told me to lose ten pounds." They'll be devastated. They completely take it to heart. But sweetheart, if you were a computer analyst and some software program came out, your job would be for two months to learn everything about the program. Well our job is to work out and eat salad. Our job is to be beautiful and you can't complain because it's the easiest job in the world and you just have to do it.
What surprised me is the girls that do come here that are rail thin - they do polaroids and they're showing their ribs, and their hip bones, and their collar bones - clients here actually get offended. Because they're posh and they're conservative and even though they're funky and in the mainstream, they've still got that conservative British.
MR: What kind of work can models expect?
SW: You're doing catwalk, you're doing editorial. And editorial here is cool. It's got a funkier, edgier - kind of like New York, but New York is too cool, and too fashion and 'I'm the best' attitude. Here, everyone seems nice.
Everyone in New York was nice too, but there's a hard edge, whereas everyone in London is pretty easy going. There's this wit and humour here, and all I do is laugh.
I do a lot of hair jobs. If you've got good hair you can do a lot of work because they've got a lot of salons doing shows. I made a lot of money last year, living here basically from May to November, and at least half of my money came from hair jobs. I made a lot of money from having good hair. Some are cutting, but it's like a trim, and they'll maybe put in a colour that's almost the same as your colour, so really you're getting a free haircut and colour, and they're paying for it.
MR: What kind of permit do you need to work here?
SW: They'll bring you here and immediately apply for a visa. The agency will sponsor you and you'll get it within weeks. You have to have tears from a magazine that's been out recently. It's like £100, which is a lot cheaper than the U.S., where it's like three grand or something.
The visa that I have is for a six month period. They can do longer ones, but you don't know whether a girl is going to work.
MR: What other advice would you give new models?
You have to really check yourself. The club scene here is amazing and if you're young and impressionable... I was at one point having to check myself out of going out five nights a week. My agent was calling me before I would hear my alarm. That meant I slept through my alarm and I was an hour late for my job.
That's a problem. Luckily the clients loved me and I would make it okay, and maybe work an hour later if the shoot went long and not make a fuss about it.
But you have to come here and decide that weekends only are okay for going out (but the club scene here is amazing. It's such a party city!).