Interview with Pheonix Ha
I've been having some issues with what to write about on this blog and I think that I have finally thought of something that I like and that I can keep up with. Whenever I photograph someone we always have some sort of conversation before shooting and some tend to get deep, and we also talk about the modeling industry. So I thought that I would interview the people that I photograph and post the interviews here on my blog. I shoot a lot of models and everyone is so unique and has a different view on the industry and life and I find it unfortunate that models don't have a stronger voice in the industry that they rule.
My first interviewee is one of the first models that I shoot here in LA, I consider her to be a dear friend and she is one of the most thoughtful and articulate people I know, but she also has a really funny and goofy side.
Now let's get on with the interview...
LH: When do you feel the most beautiful?
PH: I definitely feel the most beautiful when I'm not wearing makeup, like if I have a fresh face and my face isn't filled with pimples, life is really good. But if I wear a really good skin care product and I come out of the house with no makeup and I know I feel really good inside, I always ask myself; why did I ever wear makeup? This feels awesome, and I'll go to a bar in the middle of the night in joggers with all the people I grew up with, its clutch.
LH: Do you have any beauty secrets?
PH: I do! I sometimes soak my hair in coconut oil before I go to sleep. I definitely do exfoliants every once in a while and put masks on, the weird ones that make you look like a ghost. The cloth hydrating mask ones are great. I used to put toothpaste on my pimples, I don't do that anymore because I hear that it's bad for you. Other than that, one big thing that I do because I have big lips, is before a shoot I scrub my lips with sugar or a toothbrush to get the dead skin cells off and put vaseline on.
LH: How did you get into modeling?
PH: That's a funny story! I was a troll when I was a young kid, but I was at this place called the Canoga Valley Fair and I was walking around and this model scout approached my mom and said, hey I really think that your daughter would be a great model as a child. I think I was 7 or 8 at the time. We went to this place called JRP and It was a total scam, we paid $4000-
PH: Yeah $4000! To model... and as an over confident 8-year-old I was like, I can do this! I'm awesome! And it turned out that my mom took the brochure that listed all the agencies that they were supposedly communicating with, and sent my portfolio pictures to all of them, and 7 of them responded and I signed with 3 of them for commercial print and runway as a kid. Then I did a lot of fit modeling and it took off from there.
LH: How did modeling affect your self-esteem or did it at all?
PH: It did not affect my self-esteem until I grew up. So when I turned about-- when I stopped modeling, I stopped when I was about 14, got back into it at 20, and now I'm 22. So it has been about 2 years. Now its a totally different game with Instagram, and Twitter and all these social media sites, where old school ways of auditioning have been completely thrown out. And now I'm here with a bunch of young guppies, who just started modeling, which is great... but its people who don't even know what a set is. So I'm coming in here and on the call sheet, it tells me how many Instagram followers I have.
LH: Really?? I didn't know that!
LH: It's like Instagram shaming!
PH: Exactly. I have never been self-conscience until then and until they told me that I have to lose weight, which was never an issue before because I was always tiny. Now I am a full figured woman and it's like, oh nevermind! Ladies, if you are not strong then don't be a model! It's a lot harder than you may think.
LH: If you weren't modeling right now, what do you think you would be doing?
PH: Uh PR, marketing, and brand development. I have my degree-- now! (She just graduated college!) I have my degree in business with an emphasis in International Business and marketing. And honestly, not making brands look good but connecting brands with influencers that I think are genuine, big hearted, and have direction in their life to better suit those girls that are opening the magazines saying, hey I want this person to inspire me. I think that's a pretty impactful and important role I could play in this business, other than modeling.
LH: Describe yourself in emojis
PH: Aliens! 👽 👽 👽 All the way around! I don't know I love the alien one just because I'm an alien, I look like an alien with no makeup. And on top of that, I think that social media is really funny because we are all aliens to each other. Aliens all around!
LH: What is one thing you would change about the modeling industry?
PH: I like that it's strict. I don't like that they are broadening what a model is. As models, we are living mannequins, we are people that put clothes on to help benefit-- and the only reason they want the tall and skinny girls is just because the way clothes fall on a mannequin, that's the way they want to see it on someone's body. Or for aesthetic reasons and purposes, not for the everyday life and that needs to be put out there. This is not exactly for everyone, so I am a full figured model and I love regular models, but when you start getting to the 5'4" range or you're getting people that-- you know it's kind of like a slap in the face to me when all the times I had been rejected for having different colored hair-- there are standards for every job. There are expectations for every job. I'm really angry now that a lot of those expectations and rules have been taken down because they want to be PC. We have to be hyper aware, yes, of people's emotions, but I think that comes within and reshaping the industry and saying; this is the reality, this is why we do the things that we do, rather than telling people, fat shaming. There's a difference. You're not going to tell an accountant that it's okay if you don't have accounting experience because at least you feel good inside. You know? It's different. A model isn't just any girl that walks down the street and is pretty, there are so many beautiful women out there, all different sizes yes, but in modeling there is a criterion for a reason, for a purpose, and everyone dances around that topic but that the core of it. That's a really long answer.
LH: Is there anyone you look up to as a model? Why?
PH: There's a couple. Shanina Shiak, I always say her name wrong, I don't know. She's beautiful and she's such a dork. You know there's a lot of models that I could be so in awe of and I follow them on their social medias because it's a little bit more personal, like snapchat for example, but them I'm like, uh delete. There's this level of shallowness that comes with it and that's a moral responsibility to anyone, whether you're a model, accountant, whatever! You need to be a good person and I see that she's sweet, you know? She is a good person, and I love her work. Somebody that I think is really inspiring is this girl named Kari Michelle, she has maybe 100k, I don't give a shit. I'm just amazed by her, the versatility she has. And then definitely Karli Kloss. She can go from being the face of Express and then go code. I notice that she uses her fame and whatever authority she has in this world to inspire and instill education in kids, to initiate positivity, rather than takes selfies and create a selfie book. I mean, there's a time and place for everything; self-absorption is really tricky. We have to be careful what line we cross there.
LH: What's your most worn item of clothing?
PH: My sports bras and my joggers! Yeah, my joggers, I think that every boyfriend I have ever dated has wanted to burn my joggers. Every single one of them. I don't care where they're from, I love joggers.
LH: Do you have any advice for models that are just starting their careers?
PH: Grow really thick skin. It is really hard. I always tell girls that come up to me, if you don't feel comfortable with someone pulling at your love handles, if you don't feel comfortable with someone telling you that your not perfect, then you are not fit for this job. Having self-confidence, you're allowed to get down sometimes, but this is a job where you keep going, it's a full-time job. Something that girls don't always understand; updates your portfolio. Never say, I'm too good for this, I have done things that have seemed so stupid. I've done really small catalogs and I've done Urban Outfitters. I've done big things and really small things. Those all are built for your success. You know, people are going to hit you up all the time and say, hey can I shoot with you? If you see their work and you see like 1 out of 5 photos that you think are good, you're going to shoot for that one photo. You're going to say, hey I want to make sure that they become better, and I become better as well. Bring on the practice and stop being so in your own head thinking you're the best in the world. Know that the best in the world started from the bottom, and some are still humble.