About the Scout: Getting Discovered by Abie Shippee ft. Lameka Fox

My boyfriend, like all people from my hometown, could not care less about model’s names, let alone their agencies. The word model to him means hot girl and that’s the extent of his knowledge on the subject. My hometown offered me two reactions to finding out about my endeavor in the ugly business of beautiful women. The first: cool. The second: I don’t know what this is, but I’m envious and I’m going to disprove it.

I laugh when I type this, and I apologize to those whose faces I’m laughing in, but the absolute fact of the matter is I was signed to the number one modeling agency in the world and girls in my school made it their mission to prove to the others that I wasn’t.

In my hometown, the word model is pretty loosely tossed around, but I guess it’s like that everywhere, which is why I kept it under my hat. It wasn’t until I moved to New York City that the word actually meant something. It’s like in that episode of Friends when Ross and Rachel are at the hospital and Ross introduces himself as Dr. Geller and Rachel hits him and says “Ross! We’re at the hospital, that actually means something here!” Models are easy to spot in New York City and you can’t really pass for one unless you are.

I was at the M&M store in Times Square with my first model BFF, Isabelle, when I was called out for the first time. We had just stuffed “A” and “I” m&m’s into a bag and were waiting in line to check out. The cashier saw us and started dancing:

“Y’all model, right?”

“Haha…” I started blushing.

“I can tell! I can tell…. Y’all beautful, have a good day, enjoy ya candy!”

I turned beet red, but based on Isabelle’s reaction I could tell it happened to her all the time.

I play this game now when friends from out of town visit me. I tell them I can spot a model from a mile away. To prove it, I walk up to them after and ask what agency they’re with. I learned this game from a model manager that I met on the train in NYC. (Managers aren’t your agents and they don’t get you work. They are the middle-man between you and your agency and split the commission from your income with your agency. Not all models have them and I think they’re unnecessary, but some newbies pick them up as a safety net because they have no idea where to even begin or how to tell what is legit in the business.) This woman had a group of her newest girls seeking agencies when she confronted me on the train.

“What’s your agency?”


“Girls, come. Shake this girl’s hand. I told you. She’s with IMG.”

I turned red and the girls looked pretty starstruck.

After I finished that long day of castings, I took a cab back to the agency to say goodnight. As I was getting out, Bradley, an IMG intern at the time whose now a booker, quickly started walking towards me. I turned around and said hi to him but he looked confused.

“Abie? Oh my god, it’s you! I was just about to scout you!”

After so many years of being surrounded by models, modeling myself and working in agencies, my radar is pretty spot on. Hence, I became a model scout for my good friend Brandis Ohlsson, owner of Ohlsson Management in Milwaukee. (Hi, Ohlssons!)

Scouting is the way most people get discovered. Scouts have been around forever and, in my opinion, IMG rocked the scouting nation with #WeLoveYourGenes. Brandis says she has used it for scouting herself and wound up with two new #WLYG recruits. I met one girl who IMG signed and I’m shocked nobody has ever scouted her before. She’s one of the people that would dictate I lose my game by saying she isn’t signed.

Her story is pretty funny actually, she wasn’t really expecting anything out of the hashtag and now she’s living in New York City working like crazy. Her name is Lameka Fox and she’s become a good friend. She kindly shared her story with The Retired Models, check it out:

If you know me personally, or follow me on social media you would know I recently was scouted by a modeling agency. So here’s how it happened, I read an article of Harper’s Bazaar about IMG scouting girls on Instagram via the hashtag #WLYG or ‘We Love Your Genes’. I found out later that most girls set up their own separate account sort of like an Instagram portfolio but regardless I decided to add the hashtags on a few pictures that were on my personal Instagram account.

In the moment I didn’t really think much of it, IMG represents some of the biggest models worldwide many of which I look up to including Kate Moss my self proclaimed “mother”. Not only her but Gisele Bundchen, Karlie Kloss, Lara Stone, Miranda Kerr, Joan Smalls, Gemma Ward, Anja Rubik, Freja Beha, Jessica Stam, Candice Swanepoel, etc. I mean the list goes on and on! Shortly after hash-tagging a few pictures I did receive an increase in likes on the pictures I hash-tagged and others. Some from photographers, bloggers, and then suddenly Jeni Rose.

She contacted me and asked me to send in unedited, natural pictures- known as polaroids in the modeling industry. At that time it was later in the day but I agreed to send them in the next day. I was super excited that they were interested in me.

My mom talked to Jeni Rose & David Cunningham at IMG. They talked to her about the history of IMG and how they would love to represent me. They wanted to meet with me as soon as possible at their office in New York City!
Here are the photos she hashtagged #WLYG
Here are the photos she hashtagged #WLYG

IMG_9527 IMG_9525

Polas from IMG
Polas for IMG

You can follow Lameka’s new journey on Instagram: @lamekafox!

Thanks for sharing and we can’t wait to hear more from you!

So how do people stick out as models? It’s a factor that you have. Karl Lagerfeld, my love, phrases it beautifully in his quote:

“The secret to modeling is not being perfect. What one needs is a face that people can identify in a second. You have to be given what’s needed by nature, and what’s needed is to bring something new.”

While some models are recognizable in their stop-what-you’re-eating-and-stare beauty; there are the memorable girls with gaps in their teeth, the memorable girl with the mole near her mouth, the memorable SI girl with the huge boobs, the memorable South African queen, the memorable girl with the eyebrows, and the memorable Mama Moss whose presence on a billboard you can feel.

See? You knew I was talking about Lindsey Wixson and Georgia May Jagger, Cindy Crawford, Kate Upton, Candice Swanepoel, Cara Delevingne and Kate Moss.

My boyfriend and i spend a lot of time pointing out hot girls to each other. It is funny to see how our interests conflict due to him being a male and my time in fashion. It really put a damper on my perspective of other girls. How couldn’t it? So many people see a hot girl and think “wow she should model,” while my mind thinks “wow she looks just like every other girl in this bar or on this beach or in this mall.”

It’s a vibe you exude, a feature that sets you apart, a compelling story you tell that makes you stand out in the crowd.

I got a lot of love at my castings for telling my story; I was a 15 year old girl from Wisconsin, I had never kissed a boy, I had straight A’s and since I wasn’t old enough for a work permit, I made money by driving a mini train around a park for the local kids.


The room would fill with laughter and I’d be called a carnie. “We have a 15 year old strikingly beautiful carnie here!!”

If I have to give advice to a future model, I’d say the most important thing is to be okay with yourself no matter what happens. You can’t predict artsy people. They’re always going off in different directions. A lot of the times, they don’t know what they want until they see it. You have to be confident and you have to be memorable.

Imagine you’re a casting director. You’re sitting behind a table and you’re about to meet 300 girls today. Each one sits down, tells you her agency, hands her comp card over then poses for a few digitals.

The day ends and you’re sifting through all the comp cards and polaroids. This is sort of the look we kind of had in mind, let’s book her.

But what if there was one that you couldn’t stop thinking about since she walked out the door? That’s your Adriana Lima, your Naomi Campbell, your Cara Delevingne, your Chrissy Teigen.

So, kids, EMBRACE what sets you apart. It’s what makes you, you. And who knows, it could put you on a first name basis with the world. Cindy, Naomi, Kate. See? Did it again.

Until next Thursday…



Questions: ask.fm/psabie

Instagram: @abbyshippee

Email: abie@theretiredmodels.com


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