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Life & Work with Monique Amber

Today we’d like to introduce you to Monique Amber.

Monique, we appreciate you taking the time to share your story with us today. Where does your story begin?
I first started modeling as a teenager, I was discovered by a John Robert Powers scout on a family vacation in San Clemente. I modeled for a short while in Orange County before I was quickly pulled out by my mother because of being pressured to lose weight. At this time, I was already considered what they no call a plus-size model because I was a size 10 or 11 and 5’8” tall.

After being pulled from modeling, I tried to find other things to do creatively, such as dancing, creating YouTube videos, and later working behind the scenes for local fashion weeks in; Los Angeles, San Diego, and Orange County. I even tried to open an amateur modeling agency myself that represented women of; all ages, sizes, heights, and cultures, called Alluring Shades of Beauty. It was run by me and a few friends that had no clue on how to run an agency. It was only successful for about a year. I just couldn’t seem to find my place, but I knew where I wanted to be. I remember working one of the fashion weeks watching the models practicing and I knew in my heart that I would rather be walking down the runway more than anything else.

It was such a strong urge, but I tried to suppress it because modeling no longer seemed to be an option especially since so much time had passed. Even though many people would approach me and tell me that I should be a model, I felt like maybe I missed my moment, and full-figured modeling wasn’t really booming at the time. It wasn’t a lucrative career yet. Still, I couldn’t really seem to get away from the idea of becoming a model. I finally decided to go out on a limb and start a modeling career in September 2015. I promised myself not to give up until I was satisfied with my accomplishments in this industry. Around this time a local designer was looking for models for a runway show. I sent my information in and to my surprise, I was picked. I was so excited that I didn’t realize I had to actually walk down a runway, which I had never officially done. I was terrified! Several other models helped me with basic pointers and I made it through, excited and hungry for more.

It was like fuel and I knew I didn’t want to stop there. I started making vision boards of my goals and practicing every day. I just wanted to feel that passion every single day. I was absolutely in love with modeling. The first thing on my board was being on television. The second was walking in Los Angeles Fashion Week and the third was being signed to an agency. With this newly found passion, I quit my job to pursue modeling full-time. This was definitely a game-changer. No longer having a crutch of stability, I had to be hungry enough to make it or fail. Not only did I struggle severely financially for two years, but I learned to endure, believe in myself, and focus on my goals even more. There were a lot of people who didn’t believe in my dream. They thought I was silly for leaving a stable job. I didn’t want to prove them right. I remember crying my eyes out and praying to get focused because I wanted to win so badly. I was ignored in the industry, given little opportunity, and my self-esteem was taking a hit. I felt like giving up several times and tapping out.

But one day, after a couple of terrible life-altering events I decided just to get up and work as hard as I could. I messaged every brand I knew, contacted every designer I could think of, and pitched myself. I was getting mostly no’s when finally I got one big YES! Lawrence Zarian, the stylist for the Home & Family Show on Hallmark, wanted me to come down and be on the show. This was the most amazing news I had ever received, and I thought it was only going to be that one time. I stayed for three seasons on the show as an alternate model. It was one of my proudest moments yet. I have now currently appeared on television over 20 times on three different networks. I have walked in Los Angeles Fashion Week three times for Melissa Mercedes and Rene Tyler. I have also walked for New York Fashion Week for upcoming designers. I’m proud to say I have experience in all categories of modeling; from print, runway, e-commerce and fit modeling, working with brands such as Lulu’s, Forever21, Stoney Apparel, Thirty Years, Azazie, and more.

The biggest thing that has helped me in my career is the brands and people that believed in me before I started getting bigger deals. They gave me a chance and gave me experience, such as; Lawrence Zarian, Melissa Mercedes, The Sheek Boutique, Milan Chantel, Rene Tyler, and of course my agency, Luxe Fit Models. They believed in me when no one would sign me. It was important to me to find my tribe. People that had faith in me, because their confirmation gave me faith in myself. Without them, I wouldn’t have the career I have now.

I am a living testimony that proves no matter how big a dream is, it can be obtained. Coming from a woman that had all the odds against me. My hopes for the future are; to land a campaign ad for a top plus-size brand, walk for a high fashion designer like Zac Posen, more television appearances, and possibly start an acting career. I definitely want to be a big name and I work hard every day to be just that. Never stop dreaming and always be on yourself!

Alright, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
Absolutely not! LOL, It has been a difficult road, to say the least. I have had to prove myself to the industry, to my peers, and to myself. And the biggest challenge was proving that I could do this to myself. I had many naysayers. Many brands didn’t believe I was capable. Facing constant rejection changed the way I viewed myself and made me question my ability. I had to learn to master my vision, my faith, and my ability in this industry. I knew what I wanted. I knew I was talented and I knew I couldn’t let the way others viewed me change my vision. It just made me work harder, take notes, listen to constructive criticism and make changes accordingly.

Thanks for sharing that. So, maybe next you can tell us a bit more about your work?
Modeling is my passion. I couldn’t see myself doing anything other than this. I am fit modeling during the day throughout the week. I do print work on the weekends and on my downtime I practice runway and book photoshoots. I love the runway. I love to express myself when I walk. I feel most confident when I get on the runway. The adrenaline I get when I walk in a show is everything! I love the creative beings in the industry, working with people who create art, photoshoots, and having new innovative ideas for the fashion and beauty world. I love the art of beauty and expression.

I believe I’m most know for my appearances on Home & Family Show on the Hallmark Channel. It is also my proudest moment.

What sets me apart from others is, I just truly, genuinely care about others. I am very inviting, friendly, and welcoming and it shows in my work ethic. Many clients have loved working with me because of this. It not only makes me professional, but it makes me relatable.

Can you talk to us a bit about happiness and what makes you happy?
What makes me happy is love and passion. Love is just something that makes life easy. It’s simple but big because it doesn’t cost anything, but it’s everything! Whether it’s love from your parents, children, friends, or spouse, love just makes everything better and makes the world a much better place. Love has gotten me through some of the most difficult moments and has made my happiest moments even more fulfilling. Whereas passion gives me a purpose, drive, and a zest for life. Making life enjoyable.

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Image Credits

Hannah Criswell

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