Model on the catwalk
Her name is Justine Wen: the junior you might have seen laughing in your fourth period French class, or in an Ugg advertising campaign. On an average day at school, she’ll be wearing a gray sweater, shorts, and flip flops – but at work, you can find her in heels, professional makeup and brand name clothes for the camera. She’ll go through endless photoshoots, sport the newest fashions and strut down the catwalk with a cool confidence that puts other high schoolers to shame.
Although the confidence Wen shows in the classroom and modeling world seems effortless, it was her involvement in modeling that allowed her to overcome her shy nature.
“It definitely took a lot to put myself out there because submitting myself to that first agency was just nerve wracking,” Wen said. “But you get away from the fear of being shy and you start to learn a lot about yourself; you learn that it’s not worth it being shy and you really have to just put yourself out there. When you get into that industry, you meet so many new people and you make connections. It’s not an experience that anybody can get.”
Wen moved from Minneapolis, MN this summer, so she’s a new face to Walnut and to the Los Angeles modeling industry. However, she has already signed with an agency called Wilhemina, created a portfolio with photographer Stevie Mada and landed a job with Ugg within a week.
“Back in Minnesota, it was more limited, but here, there are a lot of companies and clients – many people that want different people,” Wen said. “I signed with my agency for a week and the next week I already had a job with Ugg – it was just like that. Normally, that doesn’t happen, especially with a new face, so I was just like, ‘Oh my god! I just signed with them for like a week and now I’m working!’”
Her career as a model began in her freshman year when she attended a six-month course at Barbizon Modeling and Acting school. Since then, she’s been contacted for multiple photoshoots and grown accustomed to the brush of professional makeup artists and shutter clicks of photographers, experiences that have also boosted her confidence.
“My most recent photoshoot was with Stevie Mada. They’ve shot with Vanessa Hudgens and Jennifer Lawrence. I was really excited to work with them because it’s not something that you get to do every day,” Wen said. “The experience of me having to put myself out there has definitely made me more confident. Because I push myself to meet so many new people and experience new things, I kind of have to learn more about myself.”
By Megan Wu, Staff writer