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Meet Neha Saroop of Meraki Model Management in West Hollywood

Today we’d like to introduce you to Neha Saroop.

Neha, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
Since I was 15 years old, I had dreamed of becoming a model. I grew up taking intensive acting classes as well as dancing but there came a point where I wanted something new and different, and so my interest of modeling was born. I moved to LA right after graduating high school. I made a deal with my dad that I could pursue modeling as long as I was simultaneously attending university. My first year and a half, I spent networking and meeting other models, photographers, and designers. I would spend my days at university going to class and doing homework and spend my nights in West Hollywood networking. I knew that if I wanted a higher chance of getting signed to an agency I would need a strong portfolio so I was patient and waited until I had one. A little over a year and a half after moving to LA, I got signed to my agency.

What is interesting is the day before I met with my agency I did a Dolls Kill inspired photoshoot because I am obsessed with the company and it was my dream to model for them. The creative director saw my photos and contacted me on Instagram to work with them. Modeling is a hard job, like many other jobs in the industry, because you can have a really good streak where you and booking jobs constantly and then not book a job for weeks, sometimes months. Luckily I am able to keep myself busy when I am not booked. I am a writer and have been writing for the past five years. I recently published my first poetry book a month ago. When I am not doing either of these things, I am also a photographer, videographer, video editor, dj, and yogi. People tell me to choose one but I don’t think I need to. I love them all and I feel complete in myself when I pursue all of them. The key for me is to block out days and times dedicated to each craft to keep myself and my projects organized.

Great, 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?
My journey has not been a smooth one. Networking constantly while being a full-time student was very exhausting and I usually slept about three hours every night. In between balancing these two extremely time-consuming things, I was also constantly commuting all over Los Angeles. My university, where I lived is located in Playa Del Rey while my shoots could be anywhere from Malibu to DTLA, and my networking would take place in Hollywood. Thankfully I had a car which made things possible but nonetheless it was definitely not easy driving all-around LA nonstop. In addition to all the time being put into pursuing modeling, I was also getting rejected constantly from agencies because I am shorter than most models and because I had bright red hair which they deemed to be too unorthodox, especially for an Indian girl. While I was unsigned and working on building my portfolio, I worked with a few shady photographers whom I had met on Instagram. I was smart enough to bring my friends with me to my shoots to ensure I was safe, so nothing ever happened, but I found out later that some of the photographers had been blacklisted by other models due to their unprofessionalism. I have found it to be very hard to be an Indian model in LA. I do not fit the status quo of the “blonde hair beach babe”. Nonetheless, I keep pushing and I believe that the right brands will see me fit for the job.

We’d love to hear more about your work and what you are currently focused on. What else should we know?
The business I am part of is called Meraki Model Management. I am a model there. However, I think that I am most known for as being the writer in the agency. As I previously mentioned, I have been writing poems, songs, and stories or the last five years and recently published my first poetry book a month ago. I think that this in addition to the fact that I am a dj, videographer, photographer, and yogi sets me apart from the other girls. Usually people choose one niche maybe two but I pursue multiple which is unusual. I am most proud of the honest and familial relationship this company has within itself. All of the agents as well as the models have a good relationship and it never feels like there is a competition. Other agencies I visited felt like strictly business but Meraki truly feels like family. My agent, Amanda, is someone I know I can talk to about subjects beyond modeling. She has given me life advice and listened to me talk about my problems. I think that this factor makes this agency so special, and I am proud to be part of it.

Is there a characteristic or quality that you feel is essential to success?
I believe the qualities that are most important to my success are perseverance and patience. In this industry a person will hear no a hundred times before they hear one yes. This is normal. I have been experiencing it since I started acting when I was eight years old. The important thing is to keep pushing and to remember that all it takes is that one yes to change your career and give you the break you need, but you will never hear it if you give up. The second thing is patience. In this industry timing plays a huge role in things as well. For example, I got rejected from the agency I am currently signed to but when I went back a few months later, I got signed. Sometimes casting directors and agents are seeking a specific type of person and if you do not get hired, it does not mean you are not good enough it just means that it is not the right time for you, so patience is key.

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