Meet the agency that is overturning discriminatory-norms in the modelling industry.
The concepts of identity and diversity are central to current day political and social debate. Although many industries are on the path to fairer representation, many continue to lag behind. There is a yawning gap in the modelling industry with some agencies and brands adopting and encouraging diversity where others reject the conversation and refuse to change.
How did Stone Street come into being?
Chris and Maggie: We were working together as photographer and make up artist for a while and Maggie was interested in working in a modelling agency. Through my photography work I was consistently street casting talent and seeing those kids go on and get taken advantage of by big brands. On top of this, friends who we thought had great potential were being rejected by existing agencies. In order to represent and give visibility to diverse faces and also protect them from being taken advantage of by brands we founded Stone Street.
Given your experience in the industry, what do you think Stone Street can offer that other modelling agencies don’t?
Chris and Maggie: Stone Street offers a main board of diverse talent which are generally underrepresented amongst a lot of other agencies. We treat our street cast talent like our main board talent and there is a strong emphasis on arrangement and fair pay for their work. We also offer street casting to our clients which is a key point of difference compared to other agencies.
The conversation around beauty and body ideals is steadily changing and models are increasingly being valued for more than just their appearance, is Stone Street a response to this?
Chris and Maggie: All of our models are people who we value beyond their appearance alone, whether that be from their other talents and skills or just their personality and presence. Our models are all friends and people we want to hang out with.
What led you to create an agency so focused around diversity and fair representation?
Chris and Maggie: We were sick of seeing packages from Sydney agencies with a lack of diversity and wanted to see the models we shot and communities we engage with represented in the industry here. Our focus on fair representation grew out of the negative experiences our models had in the industry before signing with us. We thought the best way we could safeguard our friends from future mishaps would be through legitimacy, hence the agency.
Embracing and celebrating diversity is so important in the current day political landscape. What do you hope Stone Street can achieve through the faces of the agency?
Chris and Maggie: It’s so important for kids to be able to see faces and bodies like their own represented in the media they consume and the advertising they see. Longstanding ideals of beauty in the fashion industry have caused so much damage in our society and making a change to these expected ideals is what we are working to achieve.
What is it like being a model in Sydney right now?
Sophie: I think there has been a shift within the industry. Diverse people are becoming increasingly represented, however there is certainly a long way to go.
Will: I think it’s an exciting time to be part of a new generation of creative and interesting people. It’s particularly exciting to be apart of a progressive movement towards a more diversified industry.
Jason: Sydney is small so I feel like everyone is eager to produce the best work possible. It’s cool to see and be a part of it.
Mia: One of the most exciting things is the celebration of diversity and your individual quirks. There has always been a problem with my curly hair and I would not go a day without straightening it. To have this aspect of myself not only embraced, but wanted by the industry has been such a good feeling and given me the self confidence to wear it naturally again.
Instagram is so embedded in the modelling industry now, we want to click and find out more about the person behind the brand. How does it feel to have your personality, not just your appearance, supported by an agency?
Mia: We are all multi-faceted and innately do not want to be defined by just one thing. Having Stone Street support not only my passion for modelling, but also my self expression through singing and life as a student has been awesome. Stone Street recognise that those aspects are a huge part of who I am.
Sophie: I’ve been with more static and traditional agencies before and I felt as though I had to pertain to a very specific image that didn’t necessarily fit with who I was or take into account my cultural background. With Chris and Maggie I have never once felt like I needed to shift my identity. If anything, its celebrated within the agency.
Will: I think it’s super important to show personality beyond appearance. Having an agency support this only makes the work more valuable and meaningful.
Jason: Stone street understands who I am so it takes a lot of weight off my shoulders. I definitely feel appreciated, for the right reasons.
How do you think your experience as a model supported by Stone Street differs from other models from more static agencies?
Mia: I feel like Stone Street really values me holistically. Yes, modelling is a big part, but I feel like they see the entire story of you, rather than a static image. I love that Stone Street are not only advocates of diversity but support and try to capture individual identity.
Sophie: Honestly Stone Street has been a breath of fresh air. You only have to go on their Instagram and are welcomed by a plethora of amazing diverse faces who are championed for everything that encompasses them and their individual stories. Working with people and in an environment that upholds a similar ethos to your own values really makes a difference.
Will: Working with the agency has been special for me because of its focus on diversity and fair representation. Chris and Maggie are super supportive and really work hard for the agency, which I admire and respect.
Jason: Stone Street feels more like a crew. We hang out often so I’ve became good friends with a lot of them, I’m having a good time.
Directed and Edited by Kaius Potter @kaiuspotter
Cinematography by Tom Brookes @tombroooks_
1st AC Thomas Austin @thomasaustin__
2nd AC Bri Reye @brireye
Colourist Fergus Rotherham @fergusrotherham
Music Score Sam Cooke @seywood_
Produced by Culture Machine @culturemachine + Stone Street Agency @stonestreetagency
Talent Jason Vuong @pokari.sweat Sophie Wilde @__guccigang__ William Hason @williamhason and Mia Elnekave @mia.elnekave
HMUA Maggie Wu @not___margaret
Styling Isabella Mamas @isabellamamas
Photography by Yasmin Suteja @yasminsuteja
Article and Interview by Sasha Brown @sasha1brown
Design by Bradley Pinkerton @bradleypinkerton