Andrea photographed by Liza Kanaeva
We Speak: Changing the Modeling Industry
Most often the key to change is to infiltrate a system and change it from the inside.
This is exactly what We Speak modeling agency has set out to do. The modeling world is riddled with discrimination against models of certain ages and body types. Agencies often encourage models to lose weight which in turn leads to models with eating disorders and a culture with a distorted view of body image.
In 2013, after negative experiences with other modeling agencies in NYC, Briauna decided to start We Speak. While in the modeling industry she was bullied by her agency, told to lose weight and routinely paid months or up to a year after a completed job. Finally she was fed up; she left her agency and decided to start an agency that took care of the models they represented.
Amira photographed by Anessa Kay
“In the early days it was definitely a transition, I knew what I wanted to achieve but I had to learn the ropes as an agent instead of a model.”
Briauna knew that she wanted to represent a diverse group of women, focusing on their positive outlook and unique beauty instead of the traditional model look. The models at We Speak aren’t separated by age or body type. Briauna wanted to fix the issues that she experienced while modeling so she focuses on representing healthy models; every We Speak model provides a doctor’s physical before they get signed.
Lennox photographed by Michael Newsted
While Briauna was a model, she continually saw a lack of support from agencies. If something odd happened during a photoshoot or she felt unsafe, her agency wasn’t there to support her. “We Speak is more like a family. I want any of my models to be able to come to me with anything.”
We Speak is growing, has gained some notoriety in recent years, but still has its struggles. Clients come to We Speak because they want to support the values it upholds but a lot of the industry still has some catching up to do. Agencies, like We Speak, are a bold step in the right direction towards a more body positive media.
Chelsea photographed by Liza Kanaeva
Learn more about We Speak or book a We Speak model at their website.