April 3, 2014

Meet The Model: Danielle Wesierski

Throughout the craziness of the last two years of my life, moving all over the place constantly, I had a number of people who managed to leave a mark on me despite the quickness of our meeting. Danielle Wesierski is one of them. We had a bit of a friendship fling living in Athens, Greece together for two months. Living in Athens was a trip - tiring, stressful, and immensely intriguing. Having Danielle there helped me make sense of it all. She had travelled a lot before, and even though our work experiences had been quite different we were both in similar places in our personal lives. We had a lot to talk about. I still cherish the memories of our hikes overlooking the city, our long treks to the mecca known as Starbucks for real drip coffee, and the day we played hookie when riots throughout the city deemed a casting day unbearable. We had a lot of long talks and I was always impressed by her heart and her wisdom. I know that she'll impress you as well. So here's Danielle - a model currently working in Toronto who has also branched out into becoming a certified personal trainer and a student of holistic nutrition.

Photographer: Joel Esposito

Photographer: Koby

How did you get started with modeling?
Peer pressure, I suppose. I had a lot of people around me suggesting that I should be a model during my last couple of years of high school, although I never actually took them seriously. It seemed like a far off idea from space to me - that I'd be a model. I didn't even really know what that meant. Then in twelfth grade I had a modeling agent approach me at a shopping center in my hometown. I decided to sign with them and give it a try!

You've been able to travel and live in different countries for modeling. Where have you been?
When I first found out that I could potentially travel to another country to work I was super stoked. I just couldn't believe it. When I got my first contract with an agency in Bangkok and found out I'd be there for 90 days I was just in awe. It was probably the most exciting thing that ever happened to me. I had no idea what I was getting myself into. All I knew is that I was going to a tropical land far far away from home to work as a model. I had so many questions about where the journey would take me, but I always kept a "don't know, don't care, I'll find out when I get there" type of attitude. That's the attitude I left home with.

That 90 days in Asia turned into 8 months! I went from Bangkok to Singapore to Malaysia and back to Singapore for a second round! I came home for a holiday pit stop in Toronto to be with family for Christmas and then was off again for another year and four months - this time with contracts in Beijing and Shanghai.

Once I got back from my China trip my contract with my first Toronto agency was finally up and I had the opportunity to explore my options once more. I shopped around and signed with my first "big-name" agency, Elmer Olsen. I stayed home for about 2 years and built up my clientele in Toronto, until I was sent off to Milan and Greece on two month contracts each.

Where was your favorite place to work?
My favorite place to work - and I've always said this - is either home in Toronto, in New York, or in Montreal. The people are nice, respectful, organized, and most importantly they speak English! I remember how lonely I would get being at jobs and shoots outside of North America, where everyone was speaking another language. I felt so lost at times - although I did pick up some Mandarin and a bit of Italian during my travels!

Photographer: Ryan Francoz

Toronto Fashion Week Povoni Fashion Show

Do agencies abroad operate quite differently than in Canada?
Yes and no. Of course there are minor differences between agencies, but most agencies are pretty similar in terms of business structure and the way they operate. Once you've had one or two agencies you know what to expect and how it all works. I think the illusion that every agency works very differently comes from the unique relationship each model builds with their agent and the company as a whole.

With the stress of traveling, being away from loved ones, and the ups and downs of work, how did you adjust and maintain some level of normalcy while working abroad?
By making friends! I know it's always hard at first, especially because we're in such a cut-throat, competitive, ego driven business - but it's so important to connect and relate with other human beings. I encourage every model out there to open up to one another and even just smile for god's sake! You'll be surprised by who you meet. I've made some REALLY amazing friends abroad, who unfortunately I couldn't keep with me on this journey because they too had to go back home where they came from.

When we were working in Greece you were torn between wanting to travel some more and feeling like you wanted to get back home. Ultimately you wound up modeling closer to home and returning to school. How did it feel settling back in?
At that time in my life I was going through a lot. I think I was stuck in a rut. I had been go-go-go for the past 4 years and because I started so young with so much peer pressure I hadn't ever stopped to think, "What am I doing? Do I even want to be doing this?" I didn't want to stop traveling or modeling because it became a way of life, something I enjoyed, and a comfort thing for me. But I hadn't really gotten to experience any other worlds as a young adult. I had to re-set and reevaluate what I wanted to be doing with my life and what I wanted to do for myself. After a lot of thought and consideration I decided it was time for something new. My fresh start when I got home included signing with a new agency, Elite Model Management, and going back to school for something I love - nutrition and fitness. This has given me more variety in life, and has enabled me to continue modeling while still expanding some of my horizons.

As young girls turn into women in this industry it can be increasingly difficult to maintain the slender body type that many agencies and clients look for. Since returning to Canada you've been able to turn your experiences with those pressures into a positive light, by becoming a personal trainer and also studying nutrition in school. Are you open to describing your experiences with body image in this industry, and your decision to focus on healthy body standards as an area of growth for yourself?
If I'm being honest, I think every model experiences a lot of pressure once they start becoming a woman. Most of us started our careers between 15 and 17 years old, when we were hand selected because of our naturally slender bodies. We could eat an entire family-sized bag of Doritos without even noticing a difference. Unfortunately as we approach our early twenties our metabolisms start to slow down, and it actually takes work to maintain our figures. Let's face it - there isn't a single model on the planet that doesn't have to watch what they're consuming in comparison to what they're burning. Something that you may not have thought twice about as a teenager now becomes one of the biggest responsibilities of your job. As much as we can say that everyone is beautiful, and beauty comes from the inside, the harsh reality is that measurements do matter in this industry if you want to work and book jobs.

I myself struggled for a long time to find a healthy balance of diet and exercise to maintain my weight. It isn't easy when you've been considered "skinny" your whole life to hear that you need to lose an inch or two around your hips or waist. Many models develop serious eating disorders just trying to satisfy the requirements of their agencies, due to lack of knowledge about their bodies and health, topped with the immense pressure to stay thin. I think what I've learned over the years is that it's possible for most models to reach their goals without harming their health, by eating right and going to the gym. But everyone's body is different. I think the most important thing for model's to realize is that their bodies will change. Once they've set into the body of a woman and aren't a child anymore they need to ask themselves if their body is one that can meet the measurements required without depriving themselves. I'd say, if you have to starve your body of what it needs to meet measurements, you may want to choose an alternative career.

You are also currently working with all natural beauty products, which is amazing. I'm dying to know what your favorites are! What do you use?
I work part-time at Whole Foods in their Supplement and Beauty department. I love it and I've been able to try out a ton of natural products. My favorite product at the moment is Rose Hip oil by Kosmea, an Australian brand. I use this oil as a day/night moisturizer, but it's also highly effective for removing scars. This and other oils like coconut and olive are great because they balance pH levels of the skin, targeting your specific problem. Whether you have oily skin, dry skin, or combination skin, these oils will only improve it.

When you're not modeling/studying/working/at school what do you like to do for fun? That seems like an asinine question! Haha. Do you even have time for fun??
Modeling, studying, and working, oh my! I think regardless of what you do for a living, or how many things you've got on your plate, it's really important to have a social life and to do the things that you really enjoy. I love playing pool with good friends, going out for dinner with great company, and to paint to keep in touch with my creative side. As much as I like to do those things, I also love and recognize the importance of relaxing. I do that by either spending time in nature on a walk, or going to a hot yoga class.

Favorite book?
Definitely The Raw Shark Texts by Steven Hall. Often as adults we forget to use our imagination, and I think the coolest thing about this book is that each person will interpret it completely differently. It's definitely an interesting read!

And finally, any embarrassing moments you'd be willing to share?
Earlier on in my career when I was a less experienced model I fell out of an extremely strappy shoe halfway down the runway at a Versace show. I ended up having to finish my walk limping in a shoe that was half on and half off. It was awful!

Photographer: Manolo Ceron
Photographer: Ted Belton
Photographer: Koby

Danielle is represented by Elite in Toronto - www.elitemodel.com

Hire her as your Nutritionist worldwide - www.begoodtoyourbody.ca

Follow her on Instagram:

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