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Discussion in 'Star Style' started by BaroqueRockstar, Nov 23, 2007.
She plays Vanessa in the Gossip Girl TV series... I think she's gorgeous
random pics from gossipgirl.tv
not too fond of her style from what i can gather
wearing CC SKYE Large Bamboo Hoop Earrings
She is gorgeous. Did you know she also has black ancestry? She is part Hungarian, part black. Getty
At the Kitson Launch Event 12/4
At the reopening of the Calvin Klein museum 11/28
At the Reservation Road premiere
At the gossip girl launch party
^I'm transfixed on her beautiful hair and attractive eyes. I just love that pic!
from JS Online
Minority models continue to make inroads on the runways
By CATHERINE FITZPATRICK
of the Journal Sentinel staff
Last Updated: Aug. 21, 2001
Jessica Szohr is shooting down the highway in the snappy little Passat she bought with her good looks.
She's heading for the heart of Chicago. She has a 1 o'clock audition for a Crate & Barrel ad. Back home in Menomonee Falls by 4, maybe 6, considering traffic. She's been to Chicago tons this summer. Just booked a movie - low budget, but still . . .
She modeled for Mountain Dew a while ago. You may have seen her Sears commercial. She has a "Got Milk?" ad coming out this month. She's done Quaker Oats, Jockey, JanSport and a full-page ad in Seventeen magazine for Claire's Boutiques. She has agents in Milwaukee, Chicago, New York. Over Thanksgiving, she'll talk with the Wilhelmina people in Miami.
"It's all cool," she says, oscillating her belly button ring.
Jessica Karen Szohr - 16 years and 4 months young, one-half Hungarian, one-fourth African-American, one-fourth Caucasian - is cruising the fast lane of fashion. Which is hardly surprising, given her size 2 figure and dazzling smile.
But it is the genetic irony of Jessica's corkscrew hair, latte-colored skin and hazel eyes that gets the girl the gigs.
Bookings didn't come easy for beautiful young women and men of color who dreamed of being models decades ago. A brown complexion was deemed neither beautiful nor marketable back in the 1950s, when Edith McKnight was a pretty Mississippi teen.
"I think it was issues of lighting and skin tones and photography techniques, but I also think it was bias and bigotry," said McKnight, one of the few Milwaukee-based minority models who has worked consistently since the 1960s, when the industry started waking up to the fact that beauty isn't exclusively white.
Today, Madison Avenue knows that images of African-American, Asian, Hispanic, American Indian and mixed-race models can move products off the shelves. Seventh Avenue has finally acknowledged that beauty comes in all colors.
But that didn't happen overnight. For decades, minority and mixed-race models were informally but efficiently banned from mainstream fashion. They didn't grace magazine covers. Didn't sashay down runways. Couldn't do stroll-abouts in tea rooms.
Modeling schools accepted their money, but model agencies rarely got them jobs.
In the glamorous, cliquish world of fashion, it took sweeping cultural change for models of color to gain acceptance.
"In the 1940s, when I was modeling in Milwaukee, my recollection is that there was not a one minority model - not a one," said Rosemary Bischoff.
Bischoff owned and operated a successful modeling school and agency here from 1958 until she sold the firm in 1978. During that 20-year time frame, the first cracks began to appear in the barriers that kept models of color off the catwalks and out of the limelight.
Eudora Weber, who is Chinese-American, got her first break in the '60s when the fashion coordinator for a Milwaukee boutique met her and liked what she saw. In time, Weber was doing department store modeling three days a week. But she stood out in the crowd.
"I cannot remember once modeling alongside any black models," Weber said.
Other Asian-American models?
On the tea-room circuit in Milwaukee, the models were Caucasian and Midwestern, Weber said.
"That was the era. I don't think anybody looked at it askance."
Joyce Parker was a popular white model during the 1960s and 1970s. A tall, willowy brunet, she had the classic look of a Breck Girl.
"If I worked in a group of a dozen models, say at a Gimbels' show, there would have been maybe two minority models," Parker recalled. "It was primarily white. We never discussed it. Never asked why."
Back then, every department store dining room, china shop tea-room, charity fund-raiser and country club luncheon featured a fashion happening. There were runway productions, trunk shows and informal fashion shows with styles from the finest stores - Lou Fritzel, Robert Hyman, Hixon's, Mr. Roberts, Craig's, Gimbels, T.A. Chapman, Boston Store and Marshall Field's.
It was an era of abundant modeling work for beautiful, slender women trained to move gracefully . . . if they were white.
"When you went for an audition, 95% of the models were white and all the people auditioning the models were white," said McKnight. "It was very stressful. As a black model, you knew you had to be better to get the job."
McKnight went on to do runway and print ad modeling for virtually every Milwaukee department store and boutique. Once, her picture appeared in Ebony magazine.
"During that time, black people would recognize me," she recalled. "That made me feel that I set an example, and I knew I had to look my best every time I left my house."
"That's not the look"
At the heart of it, of course, was racism.
Subtle racism that permeated society and, in the realm of fashion, confined our national vision of beauty to narrow parameters.
Aspiring models of color were stopped cold by a covert system of exclusion because the majority of Americans considered minority and mixed-race faces less attractive than those of the white race.
"It happened quietly," said Jennifer Berg, president and owner of Jennifer's Talent. "They just passed them over, just didn't hire them."
"I never heard a reference to color," Parker said. "We'd hear from clients, 'That's not the look we want.' "
Stores feared their white customers would be alienated "if not outwardly, then inwardly" if they saw minority models parading about in beautiful, expensive clothing, Bischoff said.
Ultimately, the agencies nudged reluctant clients to take a chance on diversity. "We had to do a major push on that," Berg said, "had to convince them that a minority model brought something to the table."
Being repeatedly rebuffed or overlooked left some minority models fatalistic, others defeated.
"I went to Rosemary Bischoff in 1966 and I was told by the woman who interviewed me that she could tell I wasn't all white," said Pauli Taylorboyd. "She said, 'I don't want you to waste your money by coming here.' She said there just is no market for what she referred to as Negro, or colored, models."
Taylorboyd is an administrator in multicultural affairs and instructor in interracial communication at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. She also teaches classes in valuing diversity at Milwaukee Area Technical Institute.
"I am African-American, but I appear to be white. My heritage is African-American and American Indian, and I do have some white in me," she said.
The experience at the agency devastated Taylorboyd. "I was tall and skinny, exotic looking. I had all the qualifications," she said. "For the first time, I understood there was a place for me in society, and the dreams I had were nothing I could aspire to."
In 1968, the Ford modeling agency in New York had six black models on its head-sheet brochure of mannequins. In the mid-1980s, there were fewer than 10 black models in Milwaukee working regularly.
That was the reality.
Reluctant to mislead minority applicants beyond realistic expectations, agencies either declined them outright or steered them toward charm-school training classes.
"When black girls would come in, I would tell them - if I had placement for them - I would say fine, full speed ahead," Bischoff recalled. "But the idea of building up their spirits - to go extensively into modeling training with no possibility of utilizing their training - would have been disastrous."
Instead, Bischoff said she and her staff encouraged minority applicants to take the school's personal development courses, classes not necessarily geared to professional modeling.
Berg was agency manager at Bischoff's in the late 1970s. "I was not confident that (minority models) could earn back the money they would spend on classes, a portfolio, and beauty products."
Every now and then, Bischoff said, a beautiful minority applicant would walk in the door. "My staff, once in a while we'd see some beautiful black girl come in, and they'd say, 'Isn't that too bad, but what can you do?' Then we'd drop the issue."
In the mid-1970s, a Milwaukee woman named Beverly Benson opened the only black-owned modeling agency here. She started with 10 models and an office in her home. Within two years, Beverly Benson's Modeling Agency & Finishing School had 25 registered models and bookings rose from two jobs monthly to five or six monthly for the agency's most popular models.
Sara Lou Harris was the first black model to appear in national advertisements. Dorothea Towles was the first black model to work for top designers in Paris.
That was a half-century ago, and they stood alone a long while.
In the late 1960s, against the backdrop of dramatic social change - the rise of black consciousness, the women's movement, the nascent globalization of popular culture - the fashion industry ushered forth its first waves of men and women of color.
Naomi Sims broke fashion's Jim Crow barrier, appearing on the covers of Ladies' Home Journal and Life in the 1960s. Gradually, the stage was set for black supermodels to emerge in the 1970s - Sims and Pat Cleveland, Iman and Bethann Hardison. In 1974, Beverly Johnson became the first black model to grace the cover of Vogue magazine.
Benetton opened its door to minority models in 1983. Years before anyone else, the edgy Italian clothing giant began featuring black women in its print ads. Eventually, Benetton grouped models of various ethnicities in shots, having managed to solve the "lighting problems" that bedeviled previous photographers.
The first black male supermodel hit the stratosphere in 1994. Tyson Beckford, known by his first name only, is descended from a tribe of rebel slaves in Jamaica. His maternal grandmother is Chinese, his grandfather Panamanian.
Tyson appeared in a Ralph Lauren ad in 1994. A year later, he snagged an exclusive Polo contract for a reported half-million dollars.
Minority spending power
Perhaps nothing has done more for the advancement of minority models than the increasingly mighty minority dollar.
Today, African-Americans represent about 12% of the U.S. population. Hispanic and Latin Americans, a little over 12%. Americans of Asian descent, about 3.5%. American Indian and Alaskan Native, about 1%.
As advertisers recognize that minority spenders can't be reached solely through ethnic publications or black-targeted television stations, demand rises for minority models in the mainstream.
That's why Brandy turns up in Cover Girl ads and why Tiger Woods wears Nike on the fairway. It's why Toni Braxton winds up on Fashion Week runways, and why Avon hands Venus and Serena Williams a multimillion-dollar contract, and why Destiny's Child does Candie's shoes ads.
It's how Jessica Szohr lands a "go-see" audition with Crate & Barrel.
Yet the topic of dissed minority models still makes hot copy.
As recently as 1996, the Washington Post's Robin Givhan wrote about "a troubling blondness" on the runways, a subtle racism that left "dark skin out of vogue."
In 1997, when Vogue magazine ran a black model on its cover, editor Anna Wintour congratulated herself in the magazine for her courageous decision. Trade publications picked up the story.
The fashion world buzzed in 1998 when Harper's Bazaar flew supermodels Kate Moss and Naomi Campbell to Cuba for a photo shoot with Patrick DeMarchelier. Both models were supposed to share the prized cover spot in the magazine's May edition, but at the last minute editors bumped Campbell.
"After years in this business, I'd hoped to see more progress in ethnic diversity," a ticked-off Campbell told the New York Post.
Models of color needed
Today, beautiful men and women of minority or mixed-race heritage sashay down designer runways. They grace the covers of the world's top fashion magazines. They appear repeatedly in fashion ads. It isn't news.
There are not enough models of color to go around, agency representatives here say.
Of the hundreds of adult and child models currently on the books at Jennifer's Talent, minorities account for about 25%, Berg said.
"We're dying for Hispanic models," said Berg. "And we've had to turn down jobs because we didn't have a Native American model to present to the client."
At Arlene Wilson Management's Milwaukee office, talent coordinator Kevin Marks says about 10% of the models are minorities.
"If I could have a dozen more . . .it would make our job a lot easier and our clients a lot happier," Marks said. "It's a void a lot of agencies need to fill because the demand gets stronger every year."
Demand for Jessica Szohr certainly isn't diminishing.
"The list of clients that have requested her is so long," Marks said. "They want a cool, edgy, fun kid and she has an explosive personality. She walks in a room and just takes over."
At barely 5 feet 6 inches tall, Jessica falls at the lower end of the agency's height scale. "But that's something clients overlook because of her look. She beats out a lot of other talent because of that exotic look."
Those seeking a barometer of change need consult no other source than Jessica's appointment book.
"If I'd have lived 50 years ago, it would have been really disappointing and hurtful to think that I couldn't have done the things I'm doing now," she said.
Things like cruising down the highway in a cool little car, heading for the intersection of fame and fashion.
she's a beautiful girl with an edgy look about her.
A screencap from when she was on What About Brian
is she mixed with African heritage? she looks like a friend of mine who is half Moroccan and half Irish.
She is part African American, yes. Read the article I posted
thanks, that article is cheesy and down right offensive in its writing.
my thoughts exactly
she's gorgeous...lol i just realized - she played car girl on w about brian, no?
I've never seen gossip girl I love the style of her character though from what I can see !
ps. she reminds me of naomie lenoire a little they have similar eyes