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Amnesty International

Cynthia Cully


Highrise, Fall 2005
Modelling with International Top Models (now Elite), booking at Sutherland, and directing Giovanni & Ford gives Cynthia Cully an experience unparalleled in this city. So why crawl away from the cradle that rocked her for so long? "I really enjoyed working in that industry, but a couple years ago I made the decision to consciously move out of the agency arena and felt the need to explore some of my creative abilities."

Cully now publishes Highrise Magazine, which debuted two years ago with darker, edgier images designed to capture the imagination more than the masses. It was peppered with well-written articles geared toward an audience more concerned with trend-setting than trend-following. It was beautiful.

For Cully, Highrise is both a business venture, and a means to promote awareness. "We take plastic surgery which is a big thing going on all over the planet. Everyone wants big lips. Well, the Highrise spin is to talk to all these people that do the surgery about the time they devote to underprivileged children that can't afford to get their teeth fixed."

"There's enough out there focusing on the beauty side, but I want to look at it a little more in-depth. I want Highrise to be an international magazine from a Canadian perspective, but also I want to be able to see the humanitarian side or the humourous side of the story. That's kind of our mandate."

Elmer Olsen's Honorine
in a Highrise only-girl story
Another mandate is to promote an image more reflective of Canada's multicultural reality. "I know at Highrise we've talked about it, and we're always looking for more ethnic people - I feel strongly about it. There is still a criteria that has to be met; they're tall, they're thin, they're beautiful and so on. There are a few agencies that are really pushing the envelope and even with the magazine we need to push it more and more. It's really important to me, especially in Toronto which is such a multicultural city."

Despite the personal satisfaction she gets from it, Highrise has nonetheless been somewhat of a struggle for Cully. But not a struggle she regrets. "There are all sorts of aspects of me that I didn't know how to put together - the modelling side, the director side, the designer side, the artist side, the person that loved to deal with people - I think the magazine encompasses all those parts of me that I get to discover and play around with... and I'm really enjoying things.

"I've just had the best year I've ever had. It's been just a reawakening of me and what I want to do. I have to say that financially it's been kind of a hard time, but it's put me back in touch with me.