Local model networks online
A local modeling contest hopes to change the way models “get their foot in the door.” But it’s not an actual door — the strategy has models clicking and typing their way into the fashion industry.
“The Supermodel Project” is powered by OMG, a Facebook application that allows models to create a profile with a portfolio of photos, modeling stats and contact information, and most importantly, allows Facebook users to become a part of the model’s “entourage,” joining as their fan.
The program was created by SoftRock, an Orlando-based software company. The contest and application aren’t part of a modeling agency — it’s a tool that the models can use to promote themselves.
In an industry that’s tough to break into, the creators hope to make a new path for aspiring models, where they can do the work to succeed and the public can choose the next supermodel.
“They can actually make their own way,” said Alec Difrawi, a representative from OMG. “We’re trying to enable talent to develop themselves.”
Maitland model Victoria Kundinger hopes to win the contest and said building up her entourage is the most important part.
“The heart of the competition really is our fans,” the University of Central Florida freshman said.
Kundinger is one of 100 local contestants chosen to be the first to use the OMG application. The winner gets $10,000 and a spot in an OMG commercial that will play during the 2012 Super Bowl.
For Kundinger, modeling hasn’t come naturally; it’s even a little awkward for her. Although she’s always been told she’s photogenic, the 19-year-old is more at home playing sports or being behind the camera, rather than in front of it.
“This is kind of a flip around for me,” she said. “I’m hoping it’ll make me more outgoing and confident.”
And since modeling is a new endeavor, the self-proclaimed underdog said she’s going to have to work harder to make connections and get fans. She said the contest is a great starting point and push to get into networking. She created a Facebook page, Twitter account and her own YouTube channel. The real work will start when the contest kicks off at the end of March, she said.
Social media is becoming the most popular way for people to connect personally and professionally, so the use of Facebook and other networking sites are a great tool, especially for careers such as modeling, said Ryan Sheehy, a public relations instructor at UCF.
“Entertainment is probably one of the best industries to utilize social media … especially from a photo perspective,” said Sheehy, who’s used social media extensively for her public relations work.
Kundinger is certainly a representation of the use of social media for professional and personal goals. While the publicity she gets from using social networking sites and being a part of “The Supermodel Project” is great for her career, it’s also something she hopes will benefit something very personal in her life — she wants her mom to find her.
Kundinger was born at Winter Park Memorial Hospital and was given up for adoption as a baby. Since she’s grown up in the same town she was born in, she holds onto hope that her mother is close by or still has ties to Winter Park and might contact her if she sees what she’s doing.
“I’m a big truth person,” she said. “Not knowing my own background has been kind of a big deal.”
This contest is more than being famous for Kundinger — it means stepping out of her comfort zone and creating a new identity, while reaching into her past to grasp where she came from.
“I’m really just hoping it makes me grow.”