Wednesday, November 01, 2006

The Model and Her Ego: It Is Not About Me

As I re-read what I posted recently, I am hit by the realization that it sounds narcissistic and egotistical. Is there any way that I could have put my point across without sounding that way? I cannot really second guess myself…. I can only be who I am. And I can only talk about what I know.

A valued mentor, once asked me, when I told him my plans of creating my own TV program, “Do you have the ego for it?” “Yes, you have the name, the history, the contacts – but can you deal with the difficult part of being a TV personality? You will have to be strong, you might have to be perceived as mean, sometimes, and not everyone will like you. You will have to have an unerring determination to follow your path.”

I know what it will entail. I saw it first hand apprenticing with Elsa Klensch, creator of STYLE, CNN. Ms. Klensch is probably one of the strongest female personalities that I have encountered in my lifetime. She had a vision that she believed in and even though she went through a media change, from print to TV, she fought for the integrity of her original vision. The product she created, STYLE for CNN, is groundbreaking and she will always be remembered as the person who brought fashion to TV. No one can take that away from her.

Do I have the ego for this TV endeavor? I would say, it is a qualified yes. For a start, I had 25 years of ego building and training in modeling. Ego is a necessity for models to survive. Models need it to deal with rejection that they encounter when they are not hired. If you think about it, these young women are being rejected for something so basic--their looks! They must have the maturity and ego to understand that they might not be a match for the designer or the client's vision.

Models get so easily misunderstood because of their ego. Their audience either gets reviled or they are secretly or openly admired. But ego is a must. One cannot walk down the runway and project beauty and confidence without the ego. You must believe that you are really beautiful because the audience is not fooled. You must believe that you are one of the best or the designers will not hire you. You cannot fake something that you don’t believe in.

Why do you think we are treated so well? The limousines, the champagne, the red carpet, the first class tickets, the luxurious hotel suites...…it is to feed our egos. To make us feel so special that when we walk down the runway or shoot an ad campaign, we feel we are so beautiful…special. Clients need models to feel beautiful. They need us to project that overblown idea of ourselves, because that is what sells.

So when I was working as a model, I kept reminding myself “Don’t believe the hype.” Because, as fast as they put you up on the pedestal, they can just as quickly put a bulldozer on to it and smash it to pieces. I remember when I first arrived in New York from Paris, I had this great booker at Elite, Chips Newsom; tall, capable, blond, very friendly but tough. She was handling all my print bookings while Jillian Gottlieb from Ellen Harth handled my runway bookings. I was probably living in New York , a month or two from living in Paris, when she outright said to me, “Anna, you have to get rid of that diva attitude that makes you the star that you are in Paris. You are in New York now,…loose the diva.”

I appreciated the honesty and the guidance because it is true, I had to adapt. Here was a different market, and a different way of working. Where they love grandiose actions in Europe, they valued professionalism and efficiency in America.

IT IS NOT ABOUT ME...

Still, I think that the show I am creating, The Next Anna Bayle, though it carries my name, is not really about me. It is about a community of people that has long since been undervalued or under recognized in the modeling world.

My name is just a tool, a medium through which a community of people –Asians, could be recognized. What I am doing is really much bigger than me. It is really about a community of people that I hope to represent with dignity.

The Next Anna Bayle 's objective is to find the next Asian model who will follow my steps and be Asia’s next supermodel. I want to go all over Asia and find raw beauty - beauty that the Western world has never seen before. I want the West to understand that Asians, as a whole, have a very different set of values and principles.

I want to share the experiences and all the “how to’s” in my head with the Asian youth so they will have the wherewithal to succeed in the modeling world. I want Asians to be proud of their heritage. I want Asians to have a big ego......much,much, much,bigger than mine.

6 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Anna...I'm so so excited about " the next Anna Bayle " . To me...not only you are the very first original " Asian supermodel "...you simply is one of the very best walker there is on the international stage...that goddess pose, that diva walk, that diva turn...how fortunate of those future Asian supermodels are to have such a fabulous mentor. My deepest appreciation and respect and love for you for your generosity and professionalism and love you shown me when I was young assistant to Mary Jane Marcasiano, and when I first started my atelier. big big kiss and i'm sure " the next Anna Bayle " will be a super hit ! Zang Toi

5:56 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Anna...I'm so so excited about " the next Anna Bayle " . To me...not only you are the very first original " Asian supermodel "...you simply is one of the very best walker there is on the international stage...that goddess pose, that diva walk, that diva turn...how fortunate of those future Asian supermodels are to have such a fabulous mentor. My deepest appreciation and respect and love for you for your generosity and professionalism and love you shown me when I was young assistant to Mary Jane Marcasiano, and when I first started my atelier. big big kiss and i'm sure " the next Anna Bayle " will be a super hit ! Zang Toi

5:57 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes! Finally, I can see you work the runway!
I've heard your name for a few years now, and used you as inspiration for my own modeling. Yet it wasn't until your page that I finally saw you.
I am mestizo, and I want to bring back the LOOK!
Anna, get back out there! Be on talk-shows, teach classes, whatever, but I think we can all show the world-the Filipino!

--

12:15 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

ok, i don't mean to be argumentative but i have to say i do not understand comments like the one by "anonymous" as far as the mestizo bit, the "LOOK," and showing the world "the Filipino."

i can't help but feel you, mr. anonymous, are fishing when you mentioned you are mestizo simply because it was not necessary to bring it up. i think you want people to think you're good-looking. ok, perhaps you are because you are a model afterall (good for you!) but come on, you know! i think it's very sad that a lot of filipinos have this warped sense of filipino beauty - that unless one has fair skin, deep-set eyes or a tall narrow nose, one is not as attractive (i mean, all one needs to do really is to look at the philippine entertainment industry; good lord, there are talent scouts who search the globe for filipino/white mutts!).

i gotta say that this mestiza/mestizo idea of beauty is especially ironic in this site because anna bayle is not mestiza! anna is a flabbergastingly beautiful BROWN woman! and she does not have a european nose! she has dark brown eyes (they might even be black!), not hazel or any other light color. BUT this is EXACTLY why designers loved her - she's ethnic! what's even more remarkable is that she celebrates it! and add to her ethnic exterior her fabulous walk and what do you get, right?! anna was one of calvin klein's chosen in his very, very small stable of favorite models (others were the dalma and iman). so there you go, mr. anonymous! i hope you understand what i'm trying to say.


and what is this about showing the world "the filipino?" what does that mean? anna's success as a model had nothing to do with being filipino. she made it because she is beautiful, graceful, and talented! the girl can move for chrissakes!!! right now there are japanese and chinese models out there who happen to be beautiful and graceful too. so what is this "filipino" thing you are talking about? i don't get it. it's like those weird comments i heard when lea salonga was in miss saigon. there were filipinos saying "wow, ang galing ng pilipino talaga!" like, ok, can ALL filipinos sing well? of course not, right? so what is this "ang galing ng pilipino" claim to fame about?! and, like, as a filipino, what the hell do i have to do with anna's success? nothing! filipinos have a strange habit of riding the coat tails of other filipinos' success and it just does not make any sense. sorry. so you've got to understand that it is not a model's nationality (as opposed to ethnicity) that makes them successful but rather it is their physical attributes and talent that do. the former has nothing to do with the latter.

sorry anna. didn't mean to get off there just now but i had to say something. but i also do want to say that i've been "watching" you since the '80's. the first pics i saw of you were in W (when it was still in newspaper format). photos of you in saint laurent, givenchy, all the great names. and then how memorable you were in ungaro's bathing suit dresses. i also remember you on muglier's runway (or was it montana?) wearing a short sexy dress, head-wrap, and a spear in you hand. that was awesome. a fashion amazon indeed. then there was an editorial you did for details magazine.

it's good to know you've continuing to evolve and immersing yourself in other endeavors. so for the times you sashayed down them catwalks, thanks so very much!

10:51 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i so agree on your comment about most Filipinos' warped sense of beauty, and this is seen not only in the movie and tv industries but in beauty/fashion as well. just when i was about to get convinced that we are finally beginning to appreciate Asian/Malay/colored looking models in the 90's (with Wilma Doesnt, Patty Betita, etc.), the models they have now at the supposedly "in" and most significant shows are largely mestizo. a lot of them look too foreign, you may even begin to wonder if they have visas and work permits.

regarding the habit of "riding the coat tails" of fellow Pinoys, i suppose one should understand the Filipinos' deep sense of community. the FAMILY, and not the individual, is the basic unit of society. and this "family" extends to no distinct boundaries in most cases. anyone's success(or failure) can be everybody's triumph(or doom). any Filipino, or anyone who was raised in an environment with Philippine values for that matter, can understand that. i am sure any successful Pinoy will only be too happy to share his/her laurels, too, knowing he won't be celebrating alone. Sharing in Lea Salonga's achievements was also about celebrating the Filipinos' love for music and singing(not everyone can, but we all love to just the same)...in Manny Pacquiao and the Filipino Mt. Everest team's glories we celebrate the our unwavering spirit to succeed if not excel... perhaps Anna Bayle's status is one other affirmation and reminder that the Filipino, armed with character and values inculcated at home, can survive and make it anywhere. it is not undermining the fact that her success was due to her unique beauty, hard work & discipline and talent.

by the way, from these thoughts also come the realization that often, the Filipino needs validation from foreigners to finally revel in what he does and is. and that the Filipino's most tenacious critic usually happens to be another of his own.

4:34 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Astonishing style. I would love to write that way.

12:51 PM  

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