Ethnic Model Management – Terry-Ann’s Story
Growing up I never considered myself to be pretty. If I’m really honest I always hated looking in the mirror, it was a constant reminder of what I was not. As a Fijian girl living in New Zealand, I didn’t fit the image of beauty that was celebrated by magazines and TV shows. I was not blonde or blue eyed. I tried to be though. When I was 20 I lightened my hair, used bleaching cream on my skin and started to wear hazel coloured contact lens. I, like many other young women in my culture spent a lot of time struggling to find a concept of beauty and identity that I could relate to.
Fast-forward 15 years; I am now married to an amazing man and mother to two gorgeous sons. Life is stable and satisfying but after giving birth to my daughter, Lexus, the old issues of identity, beauty and purpose really came back to challenge me. When I looked at her I realised that I didn’t want her to have to wrestle with those same painful questions that had haunted me. I wanted to show her that anything was possible for her. I wanted her to see women that looked like her, achieving their dreams and acknowledged as beautiful. And I wanted her to see her own mother living out that dream too.
With a fresh determination I decided that it was time to nurture the creative side of my soul again. I left my stable but unfulfilling job and with the full support of my husband ventured into the world of fashion design, drawing and photography. When I was asked to provide the fashion for Fiji Day 2012 I was amazed at how difficult it was to find Pacific models for my clothing. The seeds of an idea began to form in my mind.
Around the same time our family made the decision to leave the stress of city living and relocate to Wollongong, on the south coast of NSW. A change of scenery and more space in our life gave me the chance to dream about the future. The vision for a modelling agency that would profile and celebrate models of all ethnicities began to take shape.
My plans were temporarily halted however when depression and anxiety took a hold of my life. Unresolved issues triggered a downward spiral in my emotional health. I had never understood how crippling depression could be. For the next 12 months I waged a war against an enemy I couldn’t see but who seemed determined to rob me of my dreams. I began a period of counselling and spiritual healing. That coupled with the unwavering support of my husband and those closest to me enabled me to come out from under the black cloud that had threatened to permanently overwhelm me.
I now look back on that time as a gift. I can see that in the midst of the darkness God refined and shaped my character, strengthened my resolve and developed an unshakeable resilience in me. It is on this foundation that in January 2015, I launched Ethnic Model Management. The growth and favour on this venture has blown me away. In an industry that is notorious for being competitive and often demoralising we have created a team and culture that celebrates and encourages diversity. I know that what I am doing is not just important it’s necessary. I want women of all ethnicities, shape and size to be comfortable in their own skin and know that there is a platform for them to shine. Its early days but I am so grateful to God that in following my dream I have already been able to help so many other women’s dream come true too.