Verge sat down with Wilhelmina LA Model, Megan Vitko, to uncover her unique journey into the industry, discuss what it’s like to balance being a university student and model at the same time, and her thoughts on the current state of the modeling industry.
The fashion, beauty, cosmetics, and modeling worlds are hitting a significant crossroads. Body inclusivity, representation, and the push for diversity in the media are forcing these industries to change for the better. One of the results of this push is the signing of Megan Vitko to Wilhelmina LA.
Hey Megan, thanks so much for chatting with us today. To start, where were you and what was your reaction when you first found out you would be signed to Wilhelmina LA?
I was at home four hours after we had the meeting. Right before I was out with my friend Matt who connected me to a photographer at Wilhelmina and kept saying, “You’re going to get signed, I just know it,” and I was just like, “Okay… sure. Whatever,” because I didn’t think it was going to happen. I knew they were looking for a more ethnic and diverse model set to develop, but at that time it was one of my first real modeling meetings, and I thought of it more as just an experience to learn from.
Then I got home that day. I checked my email and saw a message from my agent that said, “Hey Babes! Just sent you a four-year contract. They’d love to have you!”
I’m pretty sure I screamed a little bit and cried. It was very surreal. Because I wasn’t looking to become a signed model, it all sort of just fell into place and happened.
How do you manage to model along with university work? And on top of that, balancing in a social life?
Is the right answer to say I don’t manage? If you’re going to do modeling and have another job or go to school, you have to be very flexible. You need to be able to work on a five minutes notice. Not to say that happens often, there have been times when my agent calls and says, “He, can you come in for a last-minute casting… right now?”
I have my classes and school schedule once a week that my agent has to work around. However, usually, I get emailed castings a day before or a week before max. But it is day by day. Like I could have a casting today and I don’t know yet.
Also, my friends know me and understand the industry get it. I feel like I am always busiest and get the most bookings when people who I never see come into the town, of course. I mean, it is what it is, and those who matter understand.
What advice would you have to other students trying to become a signed model in this very competitive industry?
It would be best if you had flexibility. Good time management. So yes, even though it is competitive, it’s so important not to be serious about every little thing. It’s not the end of the world if I’m not castor don’t get a job. It’s upsetting when you think a job could have been enjoyable, but I know that it wasn’t meant to be and that there will be other opportunities. You can’t mope around and feel sad every time you’re told no because it happens. You have to think that there will always be more things coming in the future.
Also, be your true self. And if your true self is rude, change your true self.
Like when an artist is working on my makeup, I’m never on my phone. Also, makeup artists I’ve worked have given me shout outs for literally that reason. Even though it’s not a regular 9 to 5 job, you’re still working. So, I’m never on my phone at a shoot unless I am on break, and even then, if there is someone to talk to, I’m not going to be ignoring them staring at my screen. It’s just respectful, and modeling can get to a lot of people’s heads. So, keeping yourself grounded.
How did you learn to model? Was taking photos always easy for you or did you need to train yourself to work a camera?
It’s funny. Because people think it is easy to be a model, but it is so hard. I go to FIDM in LA, and many of my friends studying fashion had me as a model for their projects. That is how I started getting my feet wet. Now I look back on those projects and laugh and think, “OMG what was I doing in that picture,” but it’s all a part of the process.
Then, when I first got signed, they took digitals of me at Wilhelmina. I was so scared, new and nervous. So my agent had to guide me through that.
With the digitals I took most recently, my agent and photographers have mentioned how much I have improved when it comes to connecting face to body movements. I’m being so much more fluid and feeling comfortable and confident in front of the camera.
Basically, if you feel like an idiot with the poses you’re doing, then you’re doing something right! Because you’re going to look great on camera.
Would you ever want to walk a runway? If so, what’s the dream?
I would love to walk a runway. I still think I’m too short because runway girls are humongous. Even in heels, they would still like me to be taller.
As far as who it would be for, I am not too particular because I am not infatuated with any single brand. But if I could choose, walking for Chanel would be a dream.
What do you think is unique about you?
Well, I don’t look like most models. I’m darker skin and hair for starts, and my roots are in Guam. I’ll be at a casting, and I’ll be the only girl who isn’t white and blonde. Sometimes it puts me at a disadvantage because I am not always what brands are looking to represent and put out.
I also think it puts me at an advantage because then if a brand or company is looking for someone who looks different and for diversity, I have the edge over all the other cookie cutter blondes.
What is the craziest or most unique modeling job that you have ever worked?
I did a shoot recently for a 6IXTY8IGHT, an Asian based fashion company. We went to Palm Springs and Coachella area to shoot their festival wear. So, I was wearing summer clothes, but it was freezing. It was around 40 degrees and windy because it’s the desert, which made it feel like it was in the 30s.
The whole crew was in parkas, and I had to model like it was warm and beautiful out. It tested me because I needed to act like we were having the best summer day ever when, in reality, I was trying to keep still and not shiver. It is an experience I will never forget, and I’m a better model because of working in extreme conditions.
Thank you so much, Megan! If people want to see your work and contact you, how can they do so?
Of course! I post frequently on Instagram @meganvitko, and you can check out my digitals, portfolio and more on my Wilhelmina book here: