Student organization supports aspiring models

Statement Modelz is a student organization that helps aspiring models to get into the industry through photoshoots and runway shows. Photo courtesy of Yonáthan Mesfun

Emily Richardson, Contributing Writer

Student organization founder and president Kayla Lubin said VCU is the perfect place to start a modeling troupe.

Statement Modelz is a student-run modeling troupe that began in January and works to promote expression and confidence through creative and high fashion modeling, according to RamsConnect.

Junior marketing student Lubin was inspired to establish Statement Modelz this year. Lubin said she noticed the lack of modeling troupes on campus after the pandemic started. The group’s mission is to provide members a place to work on skills, such as leadership and confidence through modeling, according to the group’s Instagram.

“A few friends and I sat together and were like, ‘what if this was something that we did?’ because we are all really into fashion modeling,” Lubin said. “We thought that VCU is the perfect place for artistic students to come together and collaborate in a bunch of different ways.”

The organization focuses on training models for the industry through photoshoots and runway shows, according to Lubin. 

The president’s main responsibilities include creative direction and training the models on the team, Lubin said. Lubin has been modeling since she was 16 years old and draws on her own experience to train Statement Modelz members to industry standards.

Statement Modelz has over 7,000 followers on Instagram and 62,600 followers on TikTok at the time of publication. Their most viewed TikTok video has 5.7 million views and 1.7 million likes. One of their most memorable viral moments was being reposted by R&B singer Summer Walker, according to Lubin.

“We’ve gotten a lot of brands and different celebrities acknowledging the hard work that we put in,” Lubin said. “It’s really nice to see that people can appreciate the things that we’ve done, especially as Black students.”

Sophomore India Johnson, a model for Statement Modelz, said she was convinced by a friend to attend tryouts and ended up making the team. Tryouts felt like an episode of “America’s Next Top Model,” as they began with workshops and ended with showing off what they learned, such as runway walks and posing for pictures with props, Johnson said.

Statement Modelz is a tight-knit and uplifting community, Johnson said. 

“It’s like our own little family,” said Johnson. “It’s really important to have people around you who are able to support you and lift you up at all times.”

Johnson said the skills she’s learned as a member so far go beyond just walking the runway.

“Working with such a big group at one time during photoshoots or fashion shows can get really stressful,” Johnson said. “My communication has grown, and my patience has grown.”

Senior Bekah Washington said Statement Modelz is a place for people to grow confident in themselves.

“I found this space to be one of the safest spaces at VCU,” Washington said. “Statement is welcoming to people from all different walks of life.”

Washington is graduating at the end of this semester but wishes the best for the organization in the future.

“I thank them greatly for just making something out of nothing,” Washington said. “You may find a pebble, or something, but you can polish it up and it will turn into a fine piece of art. That’s Statement.”

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