In Conversation with Trudi Tapscott, Founder of The Model Coaches


As a veteran of the modeling industry, Trudi Tapscott has parlayed her extraordinary experience into launching The Model Coaches, a scouting, development, coaching, and management company.  Her innate ability for recognizing potential earned her a coveted position at American Vogue and she has shaped some of the most iconic careers in the modeling business. With The Model Coaches, Trudi provides a critical—but often overlooked—intermediary step where potential models are given access to established models, coached, mentored, and given the opportunity to grow and develop before being thrust onto a global stage.

Talk to us about the genesis of The Model Coaches.

The Model Coaches was an idea in the back my mind for years and progressed during my scouting years, when I observed a need for accurate information. My experience in the business includes scouting and managing models as the Booking Editor at Vogue, as well as being a Mother Agent.  Using my experience to help a model on her journey is a passion. I love being a manager, coach, and mentor. The game changer for The Model Coaches was recruiting successful models as coaches, as their coaching is based on personal experience. It is a major part of our foundation. Models need support at all levels, but especially at the beginning of their career, and I knew my experience would be beneficial. Young women are at the forefront of media and branding in every business, which has an impact on models. We coach and mentor them into the business, helping them to build confidence and acquire digital skills.

What challenges did you face starting on this venture?

It was a new idea. The unknown opportunities required curiosity and a growth mindset in order to try new methods. My biggest challenge was reaching the right audience with the right message, which continues to evolve and requires our daily attention. No one really teaches you how to be a model. You learn on the job. Any professional model will tell you there are many things they wish they knew when they started. There are a lot things to learn and understand in this very unique business. You must stand out in order to improve your chances against the competition, and you must always know what to expect in order to be prepared. Modeling is not an easy job where you just stand around looking good. Modeling is more than just posting a selfie on Instagram. For years, our industry told models not to pay for any kind of model training or instruction. However, scouts need eyes everywhere, and so finding models on a local level is vital. In order to do that effectively, we sought local sources and supported modeling schools and conventions. Models pay to get access to agencies in order to learn and gain information. This process makes perfect sense and has been a traditional method of scouting for years, but this can lead to a model receiving conflicting information or being a victim of a scam. Knowledge, preparation, coaching, and confidence building from the right source can make the difference. Making the experience affordable and focusing on development that is age appropriate is my goal in everything we do. It is important to receive accurate information about changes and trends that have shifted every aspect of our business. For example, what do you do if you are under 18 and have heard you should start young but other sources say you are too young to begin modeling? How should Instagram be utilized to get attention from agencies? How much of a financial investment should I make in order to gain experience?

What can a model starting out expect when they join The Model Coaches?

To get started right away. Development is more than physical, and our guidance will give them confidence. We take out the guesswork so that they can learn quickly in a supportive environment. The results of coaching, both virtual and in person, have exceeded my expectations. It is about more than just what happens in the photographs, although that is the ultimate goal. We also help identify if this is the business for them. We don’t want to encourage anyone if this is not going to be good for their individual growth. Each model has an amazing library of talents and creative ideas that blow me away, and we encourage all of those aspects of their life as well.

One of the unique aspects of your company is the access to established models and the experience they bring. Talk to us about why that was important for you to include as part of your coaching.

I am so grateful each one decided to join me as a team in this new concept. They offer unique insight and perception. They are incredible women. The coaches are sharing what they do every day for a living, and that is incredibly powerful and organic. There is no substitute for experience. Who better to coach a model than a top model who has first-hand experience, knows the pressures and challenges on and off the set, has stories to tell, and has worked with all the top people. A top model knows how to command the attention of a room and hold it. I coach each of our clients on the basics of the business. I know how an agency works, what agencies are looking for, how models should present themselves, how they can build confidence, and what they should expect. Sharing our knowledge is of incredible value to any new model stepping into the world of modeling.

What are some of the common pitfalls you’ve witnessed in a model’s career and how does personal coaching mitigate those risks?

As scouts and agents, we get really excited about the potential in a young model and what we know is possible. They may look the part physically, but chances are they are not prepared emotionally or don’t have the strength to manage living as a model yet. Jumping in too young can be damaging to their potential success in the future, so we try to avoid that by ensuring they are prepared. There is no loss in having a model wait until the timing is right for them to step onto the big stage. In the meantime, we coach them up until that moment and support their individual growth. If a model isn’t ready to be accepted by an agency in a big market or lives far from a legit working market, we can coach them from a distance. Technology has made it possible to connect with our models all over the world and prepare them for the unknowns of working with an agency.

How is managing a model’s career different now than say a decade ago?

I think it has changed a lot and yet stayed the same. For a model at the highest level, it appears the same from the outside. However, as brands change strategy, so do creative concepts and technology in order to attract new audiences. So that changes the choices for agents and models. Traditional publishing has changed, as well as retail formats, and media. Social platforms like Instagram, TikTok, Snapchat, WhatsApp, and YouTube are game changers for content and creators as brands compete to get our attention. Top-level models are working with top-level creatives, and brands will always hire at that level. However, there are new modern formats that are super exciting to witness. Many models have their own platforms, create their own content, and connect with their audience in independent ways.

What advice would you give an aspiring model looking to break into the industry?

It is a really fun and fast action-packed business. This industry is filled with incredible people and places to go. When it’s going well, it’s amazing. But it is a business with natural ups and downs and can be confusing at times, especially for the inexperienced. Do your research. Learn first and then take action. Your beauty will be part of your success, but it is not all of it.

Talk to us about what it takes a young model to succeed in this industry.

It’s a business that is creative and exciting, but it is still a business. Go after opportunities and don’t take them for granted. Absorb, learn, and be a professional. Tolerate the challenging times with a bit of humor.

What are the common misconceptions young models have when beginning their careers?

“As soon as I get signed with an agency, I will start working right away, get my own apartment, and be successful.” I hear this every day. Getting signed with an agency is a vital step in that process and is a super exciting milestone goal. Not many models gained their success, wealth, or notoriety overnight, although this does happen and is not impossible. However, they all worked hard to get there and stay there.

What can we expect to see next from The Model Coaches?

We are focused on reaching a new wider audience. We are establishing ourselves as the “go to” for the truth about the industry. We work with great agencies and build a positive perception of what they do for the models they represent. We know there are negative aspects to every industry, and so we want to be a part of the solution. We love this industry, and all of us are grateful for the opportunities we have been given. Model Talks is our new platform that was created so that our audience can hear directly from our coaches and learn from their stories. In addition to my Model Prep sessions, we are adding more coaching opportunities such as On Set Coaching with Beri Smither, a model with an extensive history and work, and Social Branding with Jessica Surowiec, who coaches on brand building for the beginner. Allie Ayers, model and CEO of Bissy Swim, highlighted for her appearance in Sports Illustrated, is a model coach with us. Emily Sandberg, model and CEO of Twice Social, has been a coach and consultant since our beginning and is always available to aspiring models. And we have more to come!

New to the mix is Club Model Talks, a membership club, in which we share information and allow teens a safe environment to share their stories. We are super excited about it because we love making that personal connection. It involves a lot of content creation and guidance from our coaches. We are planning our next Model Talks Live event in NYC in April. Our first one was a huge success, and we had a blast hosting seminars and having live coaching sessions.

Learn more at The Model Coaches

2019: The Year In Review

A new year and a new decade is upon us. Once again we cross the threshold anticipating all that is yet to come. As I look back on 2019 I am grateful for so many things, one of which is the support I continue to receive from all of you. When I embarked on this journey almost eight years ago I couldn’t have fathomed where this outlet would take me so I want to thank everyone who has contributed along the way and continues to support me.

In 2019 I spoke to fashion’s new generation Marland Backus, Veronika Vilim, Kendall Visser, Jena Goldsack, Conor Fay, Kenya Kinski-Jones, and Allie Ayers all of whom are using their influence and platform to advocate for greater change, in addition to modeling legends Elise Crombez and Meghan Collison.

Here’s to another year!


Introducing Conor Fay

Newcomer Conor Fay’s smoldering yet accessible sensuality has already landed him in the pages of Hercules, CR Men, and V Man magazines. With an impending Calvin Klein campaign coming out in 2020 expect to see a lot more of the New York native. I caught up with Conor to chat about his hopes and dreams for the future, and the surprisingly best advice he’s received.

Tell us about your childhood.

I grew up in the suburbs on the edge of New York City in a town called New Rochelle. It was a good mix of suburban life and the city. Having space and some nature that you don’t get in the city as well as city landscapes was a good mix for me growing up.

Tell us about how were you discovered.

I was discovered in Bryant Park when I was home on summer break. I was waiting for a friend and watching the people play ping pong in a park when a guy came up to me. I was a bit put off at first but took his card and ended up meeting with a small agency that he put me in contact with.

What do you hope to get out of modeling?

Honestly, I hope to travel a bit and use the free time I’m lucky enough to have because of this job to work on the things that I really want to do in life.

What has been the highlight of your career so far?

Just from a business standpoint I guess it would be shooting a Calvin Klein campaign coming out next year. It’s gonna be the biggest job I’ve had so far. Other than that there are tons of small moments with people and traveling that are too numerous to count or remember. Those are really the one’s that have an impact.

What would people be surprised to learn about you?

It’s funny because people reading this already don’t know very much about me so I could say anything, really. I’ll say that currently I have a mouse in my apartment that I’m trying to get rid of without having to kill it. But it’s starting to look like I’m going to have to.

What have been the biggest challenges you’ve had to overcome with modeling?

Overcoming my unease in front of people and cameras has been the biggest challenge. I’m more at ease having my picture taken now, but I still don’t have a good awareness of my body or presence, which is what I think the people you can’t take your eyes off in photos have.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given?

Some of the best advice I’ve received is really horrible advice from people I don’t trust or think are phony. Hearing bad advice can be just as good. So lots of the bad advice I’ve been given in life—especially in the fashion world—has been just as beneficial as the good advice I’ve received and can’t remember right now.

What are your goals and aspirations for the future?

To write and direct a feature film that plays in a major film festival.

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In Conversation With Kenya Kinski-Jones

It’s hard to talk about Kenya Kinski-Jones without acknowledging her lineage. As the daughter of legendary music producer Quincy Jones and actress Nastassja Kinski, it would be easy for Kenya to coast by on her good looks and heritage. Yet the Loyola Marymount alumna is more likely to be found mucking out stables and working with nonprofit organizations to raise awareness around climate change. From her editorial debut in a Bruce Weber shoot for Vogue Spain, to campaigns for Stella McCartney and Calvin Klein, Kenya is forging her own identity in spite of any preconceived notions you may have about her.

Tell us about your childhood.

I grew up in Los Angeles. My passion and first love was horses. I spent most of my days—from elementary school to high school—at the barn from morning to night when I wasn’t in school. It taught me a great deal about responsibility, discipline, and work ethic, both as a sport, and also just purely in the connection with such a wonderful animal. I would not be who I am today if it wasn’t for horses; they are very much a part of who I am. I am incredibly grateful for that time in my life and I can’t wait to bring it back because I miss it so much it hurts!

You were discovered by legendary photographer Bruce Weber. Tell us about what that experience was like.

I was with my mother and we went to visit Bruce on set in Los Angeles at the beach. My Mom introduced me to him and in between his shoot we spent a few minutes taking a couple of shots together in an alley in Venice. A few months later, I booked my first ever published shoot which was for Vogue Spain shot by Bruce. It was a day in Montauk and I was just so happy to be a part of it. The shoot was with a group of models that I love like Magdalena Frackowiak. Bruce and the entire team were so warm and kind. The way he shot flowed very naturally. It felt like we were just having a day by the water and in a barn that just happened to be a shoot. Those are still some of my favorite shots.

What has been the most memorable moment of your career?

Being a part of the ensemble for the Stella McCartney POP fragrance is one of my most memorable career moments. I cannot emphasize how thoroughly I idolize and respect Stella; for what she has not only done for fashion but also for our planet. She is truly the pioneer of sustainable fashion—and she does it in a way that has been all her own—years before it was even a thought in fashion. She paved the way for a place where fashion and sustainability can meet with integrity and style. To work with her in any way was a dream for me including the girls Amandla, Lola, and Grimes who were the coolest girls I’ve ever met.

Talk to us about your relationship with Chanel.

Chanel is a brand that I respect and admire very much. The house is truly in a league of its own. Chanel is absolutely classic while also being unexpected and contemporary as well. There’s an element of sophistication and simultaneous elements of surprise that you can’t quite put your finger on. Having a relationship with the house is an honor and so much fun.

As the daughter of two well-known parents what was it like trying to establish your own identity?

I think establishing my own identity was the same as any other person. I’ve never felt any kind of pressure from my parents in the process of unraveling who I am in any way.

You’re actively involved with numerous charities. Tell us about how you decided what charities to get involved with and your role with them. 

As climate change has become—and has been for quite some time—the most urgent crisis that we as humans are facing, I am focusing on learning as much as I can and working on making sustainable changes in my own life as best as I can. I think we begin to make a change as individuals and then as a whole when we begin by educating ourselves truly about what is going on. When we know what’s happening then you care, and when you care you take action. As of this year I have been engaging with Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC )which is an absolutely incredible organization that was formed by lawyers to help protect our planet and protect our health in regard to clean air and water, as well as protecting wildlife, and land. I am also the ambassador of Climate Futures which is an app that creates a low carbon economy from which people and businesses can directly offset their carbon footprints.

What is the most common misconception about yourself you run up against?

People make assumptions about how I’ve lived my life and what it must have been like, and it’s always very far from the truth. People make very strong assumptions when they have no idea. Not everything is as it seems. People make assumptions sometimes which can suck, and I think we all go through that. When you just keep doing you and standing in your truth, hopefully people can see that their initial assumption wasn’t so accurate.

You were an English major. What one book has had a lasting impact on you and why?

I would say what’s had a lasting impact on me in regard to literature is actually a poem which is William Wordsworth’s Ode: Intimations of Immortality. I studied it in an English literature course and we were assigned to interpret it. I remember turning in responses to my professor and over and over he told me I wasn’t quite getting the meaning of it. I remember finally one day I understood it and I had such an emotional response. The way he writes about losing your childlike view of the world—how the world glows when you’re small and then it changes—it broke my heart. I’d never seen those emotions discussed before, let alone by the genius of Wordsworth. I worked tirelessly to understand that piece of literature after not getting it for so long so when the meaning of it came together and crashed down on me, it really had an impact on me. Not to be so dramatic—but yes—that was very impactful.

What can we expect to see from you next?

We shall see!

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Introducing Jena Goldsack

Jena Goldsack’s classic beauty—a delicate mix of both approachable and yet desirable—is the stuff of designer’s dreams. Jena’s portfolio is chock full of editorials for fashion bibles Vogue, and Harper’s Bazaar in addition to campaigns for Iceberg and Versus Versace. I caught up with the Cornwall born beauty as she talked about modeling and her involvement with Sea Life Trust, a cause close to her heart.

Tell us about your childhood growing up in Cornwall.

I grew up on the beach, quite literally. We lived in a house at the back of my local beach until I turned five where the first thing I would see in the morning—if we were lucky that day—were dolphins on the horizon. We then moved just up the hill to a bigger place where I would sometimes get up early to go fishing with my dad. I was quite a tomboy—as there was only one other girl in my class—and my parents already had two daughters. Being the youngest I became a bit of a son to my dad.

How were you discovered?

I was discovered in Falmouth by another model who was quite well known in the 90s. I didn’t really take her seriously until a few months later when I sent my photos to an agency in London who I’m still with.

If you weren’t modeling what would you be doing?

I honestly don’t know—I’ve never been a planner— but I hope something to do with the ocean. I studied Ocean Science for a while online, and I studied nutrition and how it helps with auto immune diseases, so I have a couple options. I studied Media and Journalism in school too so I suppose I’ve always had a creative side.

What has been the most memorable experience of your career so far?

For me the locations are the most memorable. Shooting in the desert at sunrise in Oman for Condé Nast was incredible and the most peaceful thing in the world. I was so taken aback and happy to be there. Also, when I was shooting on a glacier in Iceland I heard and saw the icebergs flipping over. The colors were insane and it sounded like a thunder storm.

Environmentalism is a cause close to your heart. How have you leveraged social media to raise awareness around the cause?

I probably annoy some people on social media with what I share but someone’s gotta do it. Someone messaged me telling me I share “liberal propaganda,” but I don’t see how sharing facts about our environment and the climate is wrong, and for the most part people thank me for sharing useful information. I don’t want to feel like I’m forcefully guilt tripping my followers, so some days I post about it and some days I don’t.

What do you think is the defining social issue of our time?

I don’t think there is just one defining issue right now, there are a ton. In many ways we have stepped forward with things like the #MeToo movement, but in other ways it feels like we have taken a step back and become polarized with our own opinions about things like race and gender equality.

Talk to us about your involvement with Sea Life Trust.

I could talk all day about the Sea Life Trust. It is a charity where they have aquariums all over the world. I grew up by the Cornish Sea Sanctuary and earlier this year they helped move two beluga whales from an aquarium in China—where they had been captive for 11 years—and flew them to Iceland to be released into the worlds first sea pen sanctuary next year. As these whales have spent their whole lives in captivity it is not possible to ever release them into the wild. They depend too much on human interaction so Sea Life Trust came up with the idea to recreate their own environment while still being looked after. I went to Iceland last weekend to raise awareness about this and we shot a story about it. These whales love humans so much they’re like dogs—it was extremely surreal—they love their tongues being rubbed and they come out the water as much as they can to get a scratch or a rub from you. They’re literally gentle giants. One of the whale’s trainers at the sanctuary moved from Shanghai to this tiny island in Iceland just to be with his whale that he has this deep connection with. I witnessed them talk to each other, and blow water at each. There will be enough room for 12 belugas in the sea pen so hopefully other aquariums will follow suit once they’ve seen that this has been a success.

Where do you see yourself in five years time?

Again, I’m no planner but I probably should be. I’d love to be involved with more charity work—preferably something to do with the ocean. It’s a shame I can’t be a mermaid. I just completed my diving course so I’d like to be cleaning up the ocean like I’ve seen these divers start to do. Also, coral planting is on my list—they have coral gardens where you can help the dying reefs come back to life. Hopefully I’ll still be a model in five years—thank God for my baby face—as modelling has helped me fund my side projects, which is great.

What would people be surprised to learn about you?

I used to clean caravans and I won’t ever let myself forget it. A caravan park is like a trailer park for you Americans—we all come from somewhere.

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