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Monday, August 20, 2012

Interview with Model, Actress, and Stunt Performer Michelle Jeanpierre

Michelle Jeanpierre is a fitness model, actress and stunt performer based in Vancouver, British Columbia. She is originally from Victoria, BC. Michelle is an inspiration to many women because she has the drive, ambition, and the right attitude to go for her goals regardless of how difficult it may be at times. She has worked hard to get to where she is and she is showing no sign of slowing down! She is also part of a show called "Primeval", which she booked not too long ago. On top of being super driven and goal-oriented, she is absolutely stunning!

 Michelle Jeanpierre is amazing! I am thrilled to have been able to interview her! Her answers have inspired me and they are sure to inspire you too.
Above: Michelle Jeanpierre on the cover of Natural Muscle Magazine

AVIVA: How long have you been pursuing the fitness modeling and acting industries?  
MICHELLE JEANPIERRE: I originally moved to Vancouver in 2003 to pursue a career as a professional dancer! I had been dancing for a while in the city and doing a couple of small back-up dancing jobs and casino style shows to make money, when someone approached me to come in for a stunt performer job on Scary Movie 4. I guess they needed a performer with a certain aesthetic, and at the time they couldn't think of anyone in the industry who fit the description so someone in my network suggested me. So I went in and met with the directors and they booked me in for my very first stunt job. That was in 2004. I also worked my first fitness conventions in Las Vegas and California that year after being approached by a supplement company owner at my local gym. I didn't start competing till 2007. I took several consecutive 1st place wins that year. Acting is an art that I've had the opportunity to explore throughout my stunt career. I'm currently working with a private acting coach and looking to branch out a bit more this year : )

AVIVA: Have you always wanted to be a stunt performer/actress/fitness model, or did you have other career aspirations when you were younger?
MJ: I've always just wanted to perform, for as long as I can remember...I grew up in Victoria BC and started in my 1st ballet class at the age of 3. And all through elementary school I danced 8 classes/week. I had my own bus pass and would catch the bus downtown after school to make it to my dance classes. I joined a dance company and we would perform all around the city at different venues and always using different sized stages etc. The scenario would always change and it taught me to quickly learn new blocking, choreography, and to hit my ever changing stage marks...all of these skills are paramount to what I'm doing in my life now. That said, I've got a broad spectrum of interests, but at the core of it I've always wanted to be a performer.

AVIVA: What achievements in your career are you most proud of?
MJ: What am I most proud of?? Hmmm...probably my perseverance. It's not an easy life to be a performer. There are many peaks and valleys. The highs are incredibly high, and the lows are usually accounted for by the "waiting" that is involved. If I can offer some advice on this it would be this: Don't ever spend your time "waiting" for things to happen! Be proactive, keep yourself busy, have a positive thought process, explore interests and talents and try lots of new things, and practise the things that you love doing...because the great opportunities in life will come when they come. But if you're always waiting...they seem to take so much longer.

AVIVA: How did you get started? What was(were) your biggest challenge(s) when you were first starting out, and how did you overcome them?
MJ:  I've sort of answered the 1st part of this question in #1. My biggest challenge starting out was probably getting myself in front of the right people. And since you can't just walk on to a film set and introduce yourself, I had to consistently send out my packages and try and be seen. So I would send my headshots off every month to the production offices and just HOPE that they actually made it into the right hands! I overcame that challenge by persevering. I was told from Day 1 that the stunt industry doesn't just "let people in". It takes on average about 5 years of pushing till you can start performing regularly. PERSEVERANCE KIDS! Don't give up on your dreams. At times I've questioned some of my decisions, but I can tell you now that I'm so happy that I stuck with it. I'm actually getting to live out my dream! I'm just like anyone, it's funny because people seem to get the idea that success is an instant thing and that it only happens to some people...what people don't see are the years leading up to it...there are usually lots blood, sweat and tears that are exerted before success is achieved.

AVIVA: What does the average day look like for you?
MJ: There really are no average days, my schedule is constantly changing. I'll think that I finally have a chill week coming up when I'll get a call and BAM....gotta jump out of a moving car. But that's what I love about it, constant change. Some people need stability, I thrive on excitement. One constant in my routine is that I train most days for an hr/day with intensity, sometimes more depending on what I've got coming up.

AVIVA: What piece of advice do you have for aspiring models who would like to get published?
MJ: Some advice I have for aspiring models who would like to get published is to only shoot with good photographers!!! If you're starting out in your career, it's worth it to find someone whose work you like and pay to have a shoot with them to get your portfolio started.

AVIVA: What are some of your upcoming projects that we should be on the lookout for?
MJ: Some upcoming projects to look out for are probably the shows I've worked on in the last 3 weeks. I'm appearing as Melinda Lane in the 100th episode special of the hit TV series PSYCH that is airing on USA Network. And you won't know it's me, but I just stunt doubled the character "Anna" on Steven Seagal's TV series True Justice 2. And I've just been cast as the surfer girl (actor/stunt performer) in a feature film called Prime Evil that should be out later this year. I don't know dates yet, but if I find out in advance I will be posting on my Facebook Public Figure Fan Page "Michelle Jeanpierre" so I invite you to LIKE my page if you'd like to keep up on these types of updates.

AVIVA: What are your favorite foods?
MJ: My fridge is generally full of clean eats. Lots of organic produce, chicken, fish, yams, oatmeal, nuts, protein powder...that sort of stuff. When I go out to eat my fave foods are anything ethnic. I love Japanese, Thai, East Indian, Mexican, Vietnamese....but my fave clean staple is definitely going out for sushi. I also love a good steak every now and then, and turkey meatballs!

AVIVA: What exercises do you enjoy the most?
MJ: These days I enjoy switching it up frequently. Truth is, I spent a few years competing and got into the habit of always lifting heavy...I loved training back, glutes/hamstrings, chest/Tri's....let's just say I LOVE TRAINING! But these days I'm doing a lot of body weight exercises, spin classes, and outdoor training. I am making a conscious effort to streamline my physique as this is a much more marketable look for a female in the film industry. Right now my training focus is on performance, ability, and improving my skill set. The fortunate side effect of this type of training is strong lean physique.

AVIVA: What exercises do you enjoy the most?
MJ: If you'd like to stay in contact with me and hear about my fave workouts/recipes/life/updates and general misadventures, I invite you to subscribe and contribute to my Public Figure Page on Facebook! I also write articles for various fitness publications so I will be posting tear sheets up there from time to time as well. I would also like to mention that I am the female face of Canada's leading Mixed Martial Arts organization "AGGRESSION FIGHTING CHAMPIONSHIP". If you are a fan MMA, I've attached a link to the AFC site so you can visit there to find updates on upcoming events and breaking news from the world of MMA. We've just undergone a major company merger so the site is currently under construction but will be up and running very soon if it's not already. So stay tuned!
I would like to thank Michelle for this interview and I wish her all the best. :)

Monday, August 6, 2012

Interview with Los Angeles model Lauren Calaway

Lauren Calaway is a highly sought-after model based in Los Angeles. Although she is 5'2", she is agency represented in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Orange County, San Diego and Chicago. Lauren is very experienced, highly published and she excels at commercial, fashion, swimsuit, editorial, beauty and lifestyle modeling. She has been a part of major campaigns and has been featured in publications that models who are 5'9" always dream of being a part of. In addition to being a phenomenal model who beat the odds given her height, she has also recently launched a new online magazine called Nouveau Magazine.
Above: Nouveau Magazine: The Beauty Issue

AVIVA: How did you get started and how long have you been a model?
LAUREN CALAWAY: I actually got started on the other end of the camera as a makeup artist. Every shoot that I did, I became more and more interested in modeling. So one day, I just got out there and did it. It was definitely love at first shoot. I have been modeling for 8 years.

Above: Photo by James Bassett
AVIVA: What excites you about the modeling industry?
LC: There is so much that excites me about the modeling industry, but the creativity grabs me the most. The endless possibilities that you can create is extremely exciting. To me, modeling is like painting. I am the subject from which the painting is created. Every detail is chosen with such care, down to the makeup, clothes, and hair. Then you have each photographer that has a different style with which their "painting" is created.

Also, the opportunities excite me. In our industry, there isn't a ceiling, only the one you create. You set the bar for how high you can go by your ambition. I was always told that I had no hope in modeling due to my height, but I went out there and did it anyway. I have worked for many big photographers and some even bigger clients.

Above: Photo by Robert Voltaire
AVIVA: When did you first sign with an agency and what was that like?
LC: I first signed with an agency when I moved to LA in June of 2010. I didn't need an agency before that time. I had been doing quite well as a freelance model. Once I moved to a major market, I knew that I would need an agent to help me get the bigger jobs. I was incredibly green to the whole process and jumped on the first agency that offered me a contract. They turned out to be a horrible agency and I left them only a few months after signing. I tell people that agents/agencies are like relationships. You have to go through a few before you find the right fit. Most people think that you should always go with a big agency, but that is not always the case. Remember that they have a ton of clients to take care of and sometimes you can become a number. Look into boutique agencies and see if that is a better fit for your needs.

Above: Photo by Malachi Banales

AVIVA: What achievements in your career are you most proud of? (publications, etc)
LC: I am extremely proud of my makeup campaigns (Bare Minerals and Stila Cosmetics). I always wanted to do strong beauty campaigns with high end clients. Makeup lines and fragrances are some of the highest paying jobs in the business. I am on the hunt for my fragrance campaign.

AVIVA: Could you tell us more about your new magazine that you just launched?
LC: I launched Nouveau Magazine in May of this year. As a model, I have been in quite a few magazines. Unfortunately, the magazines do not always view you as important as the photographer. Your name is rarely seen in the credits. I set out to amend this, not only for models but makeup artists, hair stylists, and wardrobe stylists. My magazine also features interviews on top industry professionals. Where you can read about them and their advice. We also feature fashion and beauty editorials from photographers all over the world. I hope to build it into something amazing, because as an artist you should always be evolving. I find Editor in Chief to be a great fit for where I see my career going.

AVIVA: What do you look for before deciding if you would like to collaborate with a photographer or not?
LC: I look through their portfolio on their website. You get an in depth look into what their tests are like, as well as their clients. I look for someone that inspires me, that will give me something different for my book.

Photo by Angela Marklew
AVIVA: What is the biggest mistake that you see aspiring models making time and time again?
LC: Getting wrapped up in testing. You should test to build your book, once it is built, you should take it and be able to use it to book paid work. They shoot with photographers because they have a big following online and don't stop to ask the important questions.

1) Are these photos going to further my career or just gain me more social media notoriety?
2) Will my agents (agency) use them in Comp Cards?
3) Will potential clients see the MODEL, or just the post production methods of the photographer?
4) How much of YOU will be in the picture? (v.s. location, setting, props, etc.)
5) How clearly will they see your face in the photos? (far away shots or too much elaborate makeup) 75% of models are chosen for their facial traits

You need to take into account your agency, your market (for example: LA is extremely commercial), and your future. You may be a model today, but 5 years from now that could change.

Above: Photo by Jon Santana
 AVIVA: Do you have any additional comments?
 LC: Follow your dreams, but be smart about it. As a model, you are basically a startup company. It takes a lot of investment to get them off the ground. You should be professional and hard working because it isn't all glitz and glam.

I would like to thank Lauren for the interview, and I wish her continued success!
You can also check her out on FACEBOOK and Model Mayhem. Also, check out the Nouveau Magazine Facebook page.
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