Peggi Lepage's Rebecca Dunham

Rebecca Dunham

March 4, 2021

What I Wish My Fairy God Model Had Told Me

Hello Canadian fashion world and curious onlookers! After almost three months of stuffing my face on Fresh rice bowls and playing with my dog in Toronto, I'm back in China hard at work. This time I'm in Shanghai, which is a more Westernized, modern city than my former abode, Beijing.

After being here for less than a week there are some major differences on how I am handling the beginning of this trip, knowing the first few weeks are the hardest. Making friends, navigating castings and a new agency, trying to figure out your way around a city where the anxiety of getting lost is heightened due to the lack of English speakers, and of course you are missing home - if not the people, than the food and your own cozy bed (Chinese mattresses are as hard as rocks).

My entire time in Beijing was my biggest learning experience as a model so far. It was my model college, or the equivalent to first year. I learned how to survive castings, unfriendly models, jobs that were great, jobs that left me in tears, the streets of a foreign country, balancing a busy schedule, keeping confidence, the most strict runway walk - the Chinese people are intense about this - oh yeah and a little bit of Mandarin. These past few days I've been applying my new knowledge to bring me success here in Shanghai, as the time I've been here progresses I have been reflecting on what the differences are this time and how I wish that I knew what I know now (thank you Rod Stewart) during my first trip, hence the title of this blog post: "What I Wish My Fairy God Model Had Told Me."

Allow me to give you a look at my model college CliffNotes so that you can ace your first year or just refresh your memory.

How to stay healthy and strong (This is advice my Dad drills into me all the time, and Dad if you are reading this you are right):
  • The first week sleeping is especially important. If you have jet lag you want to rid yourself of this burden as quickly as possible and get yourself into your new time zone. Feeling tired at castings is never fun and looking tired at castings won't book you the jobs. In China, youthfulness and a fresh face are signs of beauty, without proper sleep dark bags and wrinkles creep up around your eyes and the grumpiness we all feel won't help our inner beauty shine through.

  • A lot of models I know talk about how much weight they gain when they go on modelling trips. Being in a new place with new food and a lack of healthy options available will tempt the discipline of the strictest eaters. There are ways to eat healthy even out of a 7-Eleven. Avoid the chips, candy, fried foods and pop that people around you will be indulging in. You won't get the energy your body needs to sparkle if you fill it with processed "food". Look for the fruit (with peels- always wash your produce in china), veggie and healthy protein options. Go for a bag of nuts instead of chips or a banana instead of a bag of candy.
  • Take your vitamins! Your body will be working extra hard to adapt to a new environment and vitamins are like insurance for your body. With all the stress on your body and the mental stress vitamins will help you stay healthy, getting sick is the last thing you want.

How to get the jobs:
  • Smiling is important; people want to work with happy girls who won't complain. If you are bubbly and happy at a casting people will be more attracted to you and want to work with you.
  • Wearing colours was a difficult one for me to come to terms with, I'm an all black wearer by nature. By adding splashes of colour to my ensembles it made me more appealing to more clients. It adds youth and freshness to your look and allows you to stand out when you are wearing something vibrant.
  • Practicing your walk is self- evident; practice makes perfect and perfect books more jobs. Please don't give me "but I'm short" I knew a fierce little Belarusian who booked every runway job in Beijing and she was a few centimeters shy of the 175cm her model card claimed. It was like a little angel with fluffy hair came into the casting to show us how it was done.
  • There will always be one or two girls who book everything and it's because they know how to work it. Watch them and take notes, they are getting booked for everything for a reason. Befriend them, ask for their help. Surrounding yourself with people who are great at what they do is an inspiration and one of the best (free) educations you will get.

How to stay sane: You will get bored and you will get lonely. It's unavoidable but it isn't something that has to last forever or turn into depression. Do things you can enjoy that are free or inexpensive and that will help you fill your time in a meaningful way.
  • Download movies
  • Bring books to read
  • Take up a hobby (learn to cook!)
  • Make a bucket list of things you want to see in the city
  • Try to learn the language
  • Most agencies will have an optional gym membership available. Use it!
  • If all else fails there is always skype!

Befriend as many people as possible, do something nice for your flat mates to let them know you are interested in having a good relationship. Isolation is my biggest obstacle right now. My two flat mates are young girls who have limited English and my model apartment isn't in the same area as all the other model apartments. I'm keeping myself busy focusing on nailing the castings, exploring the city and learning more Mandarin phrases.

Luckily I have friends from Beijing here to see on the weekends and to say hello to during castings!

To sum up, the best thing you can do is stay positive. Sometimes all you need is a small reminder of something that makes you happy to get you back on track and motivate you. For me I have a card from my mom, Norwegian gnomes from my boyfriend and a journal from my Dad. You are exactly where you are supposed to be and if you are reading Modelresource you will be armed with all the tools to kill it! So go woo those casting directors and make the rest of us Canadian models proud!



Rebecca is a Peggi Lepage model, currently in Shanghai.


Blogs We Follow

Cailin Hill (The Model Burnbook)

Models x Models (Models x Models)

Liis Windischmann's (14+ LouLou blog)

Laura Kell (A Model Life)

Madison Schill (Chic Greek Geek)

Kathleen Burbridge (Kathleen in Wonderland)

Ania Boniecka (A n i a . B)

Shawn Dezan (motivated//ambition)