Photographer: Images by Teri G
Makeup Artist: Makeup by Severin
Hair Stylist: Model
1. What inspired you to get into this industry?
As a teen, I had already fallen madly in love with horror, mystery and thriller films & books, and once I had finally gotten into the alternative (metal, industrial) music scene, I had a pretty great feel for who I looked up to and why. I idolized the men and women of these genres and it created a fire that burned inside me to make me want to create something great within that realm.
2. How long have you been modeling?
I began modelling at 16, but actually started to take it seriously at 20 years old, so nearly 10 years now. Oh, how time flies.
3. Who is your favorite model?
My favourite model: now that's tough because all my role models carry a different significance, none necessarily more important than the other. But I would say that Dita has, and always will hold a special place in my heart for not only her beautiful traditional burlesque and pinup attributes and business sense, but for her love of the darker, more alternative styles of fashion and aesthetics.
4. Were you always comfortable in your own skin and in front of the camera?
I feel like "comfortable in my own skin" and "comfortable in front of a camera" have always been two separate areas. For one, growing up, my dad always had the cam-corder out and I was an absolute HAM from day one, but once I started getting bullied in middle-school and throughout high school, my self-esteem and self-confidence was non-existent. I eventually learned to pretend to have confidence as a coping mechanism, and later got interested in modelling as a way to help boost my self-esteem. As a visual artist and an obsessive film buff, I was very good at expression mimicry which helped with emoting and expressing myself through my modelling. Although I wouldn't say it came naturally (because it did take years of experience and practice to get to a space of comfort), I always got great feedback from the folks I collaborated with over the years.
I feel that this needs mentioning on this note: the lack of comfort I have had in my own skin doesn't just come from years of your run-of-the-mill childhood bullying; it came hand-in-hand with the inner-conflicts I had with my gender-identity and sexual orientation. Although my family has always been very forward-thinking and liberal and never made me feel like I wasn't loved or accepted there (in this I am lucky), I grew up in a small French-Catholic community that did NOT accept people who strayed too far from the "norm", and I was often ostracized, ridiculed, and made to feel like I was "less-than". Although I have many privileges compared to others within the LGBTQ2SAP+ Community, it didn't prevent the feelings of despair when I was a child & teen.
What I can say about being in front of the camera, is that it helped me become me: it helped me grow into the person that I always looked up to, the beautiful, powerful women who took what they deserved, lived on their terms, and demanded respect. I grew up to be the woman I used to draw and dream about. I think that that was the greatest accomplishment for me.
5. Did you have any mentors who really helped mold and guide you?
I wouldn't really be able to put it down to one single person, but I would definitely like to credit the Fetish, LGBTQS2AP+ and alternative fashion communities of Toronto, and all my friends who exist within those worlds. They were the ones who helped me realize my true self, and my potential. It was their belief in me, their friendships, and our shared experiences that helped mold and guide me through that journey. I also wouldn't be here today if it wasn't for their love and acceptance. So, I always make a point to thank them.
6. Do you have any tips for aspiring models in the industry?
Absolutely! Also- side note: I feel that some of the best advice can only come from those who've experienced some of the worst aspects of the industry. I'll try to keep these short and sweet.
1- Be true to yourself, hold your ground, be strict with your boundaries, and keep your standards high.
2- Do not let anyone undermine your autonomy, your authority, or your integrity.
3- It's a business, so conduct yourself as such; leave the drama and bullshit at the door when you walk into a gig.
4- You are not better than anyone else, and if you ever catch yourself with your nose up in the air, it's time to flush your ego down the drain, or it will ruin you.
5- Be kind to others and yourself. Always.
6- Don't put a cap-limit on your success by thinking you know everything; there's always more to learn, so stay humble.
7- Don't believe everything you hear, and only half of what you see.
8- Don't ever work with/for someone without a contract. Even your best friend is liable to cheat you.
9- If a person is shit-talking someone to you, it's more than likely that they shit-talk you to other people. Stay away from gossip.
10- Only you can get yourself where you want to be. Your determination, dedication and drive is what will take you there.
7. Do you have a WTF moment at a shoot?
Hahahaha... Well, since I've been at it for over 10 years altogether, I have way too many to count, and far more than I'd care to remember, but here's one that comes to mind:
Myself and two other models are doing a fetish shoot, in lovely pastel PVC Corsets, and some matching bondage gear. We all did our own hair before he shoot, and each of us was getting our makeup done by someone that the organizer had hired on as MUA.
Model 1 gets her makeup done while I and Model 2 get our outfits on, then Model 2 gets her makeup done while I get my ballerina heels laced, and as I waited next to model 2 for my turn to get my makeup done, I notice that the "Makeup Artist" had no sanitation products: no alcohol, no brush cleaner, no hand-sanitizer, and her "kit" was filthy and absolutely looked like it was just her own personal makeup.
I saw her finish with Model 2, and begin wiping the contaminated brushes on a kleenex, and when I asked what cleaning products she was using, she said that that's how she cleans her brushes.
I was absolutely disgusted (1- I'm a professional makeup artist, and a clean-freak), and was lucky that I still had a set of my own brushes with me from a prior shoot. So I asked her politely just to use my brushes.
That's definitely one of my biggest pet-peeves. If someone is going to do makeup for a shoot, I don't care how good her makeup looks in her selfies: if she's not a Professional Makeup Artist with at least the basics of sanitation down, they don't deserve to be on set.
8. What are some of the biggest revelations you've discovered through modelling?
I think my big revelation was that looking sexy and feeling sexy are two completely different things, and that if you're trying to feel sexy by looking the part, you're feeding your ego, and not your soul.
That may not always be the case for everyone, but when I got into modelling, it was about self-expression and really seeing if I had the chops for it, but a big aspect of it was to find confidence. I eventually found it through self-exploration, but let me tell you; If you're not doing it right, you can actually make your self-confidence drop and create an even worse self-esteem, and without the right help it can turn into something that will eat you up inside. Really ask yourself why you're in it before you make big decisions.
9. Tell us something random about yourself.
I am completely and utterly in love and obsessed with Tom Hardy, and was once crowned "Biggest Tom Hardy Fan" in a Fan Page with over 47k members and followers.
They were hosting the contest and to we had to make an entry about why we love him and what makes him such a special person, and I guess my answer was the most heart-felt and genuinely adoring. So I won a prize pack! It was definitely a good day!
10. What are you most proud of?
I am most proud of my Mental Health Journey. This is something I could discuss for hours, but I'll break it down as simply as I can: (tw: mention of mental illnesses and suicide) I've always suffered from Depression and Anxiety since childhood, but was never formally diagnosed because I managed to be high-functioning enough to pass below the danger radar. I had suffered a few suicide attempts and some massive depressive episodes throughout my teens and barely made it to 19.
I avoided medication for far too long for fear of damaging side-effects, and in my mid-20s, I had one of the biggest psychotic breaks I'd ever experienced, so I finally sought professional help at CAMH. I was finally properly diagnosed with Major Depressive Disorder, OCD, PTSD, Generalized Anxiety Disorder, Pre-Menstrual Dysphoric Disorder, ADD, and Borderline Personality Disorder. I was given therapy sessions, tried a myriad of meds until we found a combination that worked, and did CBT to help in my daily fight against my mental illness.
This journey hasn't ended yet, because even though I've been treated, I haven't been cured; living with mental illness is hard work, and sometimes it can get the better of me. But with the help of my husband, my friends and my family, I've survived and have made this a life worth living.
11. When it's all said and done, what do you want to be remembered as?
I want to be remembered as someone who wasn't afraid to be myself, to do things my way, who was brave enough to face her fears and chase her dreams. I want people to see me and think "If she can do it, so can I." I want to leave a legacy of love, hope, and strength.
12. Any last words or fun facts about you?
I recently moved to Belfast, Northern Ireland with my husband to live closer to his family, and seek out more opportunities in our fields of art and tattoo careers. I'll be working for the World Tattoo Festival that's being held at the Eikon Exhibition Centre in putting on a fantastic Tattoo Convention in April 2019, and it'll be one for the ages. If you have any questions regarding the difficulties, obstacles of an international move, or what it's like to work for tattoo conventions (I've done work for Northern Ink Exposure and the Edmonton Tattoo Convention in Canada), I would be more than happy to answer more questions.