Aspiring models take to the digital runway
Published: Wednesday, March 30, 2011
Updated: Saturday, April 2, 2011 22:04
Orlando is taking the fashion world by storm — through Facebook.
UCF junior Marissa Kay is one of 100 Central Florida models who will be competing for one thing and one thing only — to become the world's first social-media supermodel through the Supermodel Project.
"Social media is what it is all about right now," Kay said. "Everything is about networking and meeting people, and Facebook is just the place."
The Supermodel Project will utilize an application on Facebook that was created by OMG, a talent company that provides social-media tools for aspiring models and actors. The competition will chronicle the rise of one model from obscurity to superstar status during a 10-month period.
OMG, the sponsor of the project, is using the models as a way to launch their new free and easy-to-use application.
By installing the OMG app, models and actors are given a free digital portfolio, which includes the following: photo gallery, section for casting and booking requests, digital composite cards, digital headshots, stats page, video gallery, and audition and booking schedules to update upcoming gigs.
Kay said the first step to becoming a superstar is getting noticed, and this competition is giving her a chance to be seen by someone who thinks she has potential.
For Kay, being a model isn't just about posing for pictures — it's about being beautiful, inside and out.
"You need to have personality, be yourself, and be comfortable in your own skin, but most importantly, you have to be creative, which is where this project comes in" Kay said.
Alec Difrawi, creative director at OMG, wanted to create a platform that allowed models to build themselves a fan base and see the potential social media has in helping them become celebrities.
Through OMG, Difrawi hopes to change the way the entertainment industry books and discovers models and actors.
"In the era of social media, the public should choose superstars, not scouts or agencies," Difrawi said. "The industry has labeled what a model should be, but we want the public to decide."
The project is all based around one thing — a celebrity score. A model can only succeed by building an entourage of online fans, adding photos, attending auditions, bookings and making public appearances.
The model with the highest celebrity score each month wins a $500 prize. At the end of the project, the model with the overall highest score will receive $10,000 and will appear in an OMG commercial during the 2012 Super Bowl.
Along with being a model, Kay is also a marketing and merchandising retail consultant, a jewelry buyer and stylist, an interior design assistant, and a window display designer.
This month, Kay started her own business, in which she helps entrepreneurs and nonprofit organizations market themselves through Facebook. She shows them step-by-step how to create events, promote links, have clients join a fan page, etc.
Along with her own business, Kay works for her mother's interior design company in Ormond Beach doing visual merchandising for the displays and marketing the company through Facebook.
For this model, an education and a college degree are her first priorities. Although most models work in New York City or Miami, Kay takes modeling jobs that are mostly in Florida so she can maintain her straight A's.
"I think that this is such a great and innovative opportunity for models in the Orlando area because a lot of us are still in school while trying to make it in the modeling world," Kay said.
Kay says the OMG app is a great way for her to make connections with all kinds of people, such as models, photographers and makeup artists, while showing the world of social media her photos, videos and events that she partakes in.
This app allows models and actors to build a fan base and leverage that following into building and promoting a career.
"Building an entourage is everything to me," Kay said. "It's not just because it involves becoming the next supermodel, but because it opens up the doors of opportunity for me by showcasing my work all over the Internet."
Blair Quinn, director of talent operations at OMG, said being a model is all about self-promotion and getting people involved.
"I can walk into a casting and tell them I have 10,000 fans following me who think that I am great," Quinn said. "With this entourage, I can be just as successful as what the industry standard says is a supermodel."