FORT FRANCES—Mark Heyens of Stratton and Jamie Pryde of Fort Frances both have proved you don’t have to be from the city to become a fashion model.
Separately, the early twenty-somethings have begun to establish careers in modelling, travelling anywhere from Toronto, Vancouver, Montreal, New York, and China and doing work for companies like Teletoon, Sears, Athlete’s World, M.A.C. Cosmetics, and The Bay.
“It’s weird,” Heyens replied when asked what it’s like to get into modelling after living in a small town.
“I am from Stratton, where there are more cows than people,” he noted. “I get to experience things that most people in their life will never be exposed to or even get to see.
“I have always wanted to travel and see the world, and this is a way to do so and to meet people from every corner of the world,” he added. “I am grateful to be able to do what I do.”
Heyens graduated from Rainy River High School and went to college in Thunder Bay to study television broadcasting.
While looking for work there last spring, Heyens entered himself in a Model and Talent Search Canada competition and was selected to move on and compete in Toronto.
He won two awards and had 13 different agencies trying to sign him on. He eventually decided to sign with Giovanni Model Management in Toronto and moved there to live.
“I always wanted to be a model/actor all my life,” Heyens noted. “I just never really said anything to anyone except a few people because, I don’t know, I was kind of embarrassed about saying I wanted to be a male model, but now I . . . just love doing what I do.”
His first big break was with FASHION magazine, where he recently was featured in the September issue on three different pages.
Last month, he flew to Shanghai, China, where he has done two runway jobs and a catalogue shoot.
“It all happened within three months and now I am in China modelling,” Heyens remarked.
“My career thus far has been great. I mean, I started from scratch just six months ago,” he added. “I am happy with my progression and only hope to get better at what I do.”
He noted as soon as modelling becomes a chore for him, he will find something else to do.
“If I may quote my father, Paul Heyens, ‘If you like what you do, you will never work a day in your life,’ and I believe that,” he stressed.
“Being a model is so many things—it’s exciting, it’s new, it’s actually pretty much what you see on television or in movies,” Heyens continued. “It’s a pretty crazy ride and you just have to hang on for the ride of your life.”
He said he particularly enjoys travelling and meeting new people, but added one downside is that sometimes people in the industry are not very polite to one another.
He also indicated it’s difficult because if you don’t work, you don’t get paid.
“If you don’t have a great book, you don’t get much work, and your book is like a model’s résumé,” Heyens explained.
“It’s your life,” he stressed. “It’s how you get paid and that’s why I am overseas is to build my book so I can work more in Canada and the U.S.”
Heyens also is set to play a waiter (a non-speaking role) in an upcoming movie called “The Time Traveler’s Wife,” starring Rachel McAdams.
“We are so very proud of him,” said his mother, Donna.
Heyens also thanked his family for supporting him in his career.
Pryde, meanwhile, became interested in modelling after relocating to Winnipeg two years ago to study at the University of Manitoba.
A friend recommended a Winnipeg talent agency to him and within two months, he had met with resident agents at Panache Management and was signed to a three-year contract.
“The market I am currently working in, namely Winnipeg, is very small compared to the larger cities, so it is not such a stark contrast to living in Fort Frances as one may think,” Pryde remarked.
“Winnipeg is a great place to get your feet wet in the industry and learn from experience,” he added.
Pryde has worked with prominent Toronto-based photographer David Hou, which led to a consultation in Vancouver last November. There he met with agents and subsequently received “callbacks” from leading agencies in Toronto, L.A., New York, and Tokyo.
He said being a model is a lot more work than one may think—and a lot less glamorous.
“I’m treated as an object almost on a daily basis,” he noted. “You’re constantly being fussed over, touched, placed, moved, and critiqued while on set.
“During a show, you change in the open, in front of everyone—all the while having about 10 seconds to do so before you get lined up for another run.”
Pryde added it’s very busy because while not doing a job, you’re preparing for the next possible job, meeting with your agent, meeting with clients, running from one end of this city to another.
But he stressed there are a lot of benefits to modelling, as well.
“Sometimes you do get free stuff,” he noted. “This is probably the number-one question most ask, ‘So, you get to keep the clothes?’
“Most of the time this is a no, and I never ask, but sometimes you do a good job and the company gives you a small ‘bonus.’ it’s usually just like one item of clothing or cologne or something.”
Like Heyens, Pryde also enjoys meeting new people.
“I’ve met so many agents and models from all over, and have so many great memories of working with them thus far,” he enthused.
Pryde explained the “go sees” are very similar to what you see on television, citing the agents at a “go see” look over your book, sometimes have you try on things, and then have you walk.
“They then proceed to take Polaroids and sometimes give you a very blunt, good or bad, critique,” he indicated.
Pryde said he’ll never forget one time when he was waiting in line at an agency and overheard the critique of the model in front of him.
“The model in front of me sat down and [the agent] looked at him and said, ‘You have a lazy eye and your nose is crooked,’” he recalled. “I will never forget that as long as I live.”
But despite all the critiques and hard work, Pryde said he’s looking forward to continuing his career as a model, particularly with the prospect of international travel to Athens or Tokyo following the winter semester.
And he knows achieving this goal will require a great deal of effort and dedication.
“Fortunately, my parents, Scott and Cindy Pryde, and my team of agents have been absolutely wonderful with their support and hard work; encouragement from co-workers and close friends has been enormously overwhelming thus far,” Pryde stressed.
(Fort Frances Times)