Leslie Turner, Mother Agent, LModelz

As of this February, Indianapolis-based agency LModelz has officially been putting young aspiring models into the spotlight for 10 years. Founded by Leslie Turner, the agency has helped the models grace the runways of Fashion Week, work with companies like Mercedes and Macy’s, and rock it on the pages of Pattern, of course.

“When I realized that woah, I’ve been at this for ten years! It was overwhelming,” says Turner. “Over the years I’ve learned that I have serious drive and ambition. Like any other business, I went through proving myself. I had to find the talent with the potential and ability to attract the industry.”

Turner estimates that she’s had at least 200 models come through her door since she founded the agency in 2005, and is currently working with 63 models. She’s helped nurture several models to career level success. Some big names include Tyrie Rudolph, who now works with Wilhelmina Models; Amanda Pfingston, who took her career internationally to Dubai; Ebony Olivia Smith Wallace, Ashley Chew, Michelle Bessiake, and Talena Moorman, who all modeled for this year’s New York Fashion Week; and Emily Nyberg, who is a consistently requested petite model. These girls have made it, and LModelz represents plenty more with career potential.

“A modeling career doesn’t happen overnight,” says Turner. “The model has to condition, practice, study, be flexible, have personality, and the model has to want it. Not the parents, not the boyfriend, not the friend. The model. And of course we have to have a strong connection and relationship because I have to be able to speak highly and promote the model. It’s a collaborative effort.”

image by Rebecca Shehorn
image by Rebecca Shehorn

The models prep for the industry with workshops and photo shoots to help build up their portfolios. But according to Turner, you can’t teach someone how to model, they either have it or they don’t. Models have to develop a thick skin and expect twenty “no’s” before that precious “yes.” They need to capture attention, maintain their appearance and have plenty of personality while still staying professional.

“It’s not right here at their hands like it is in LA and New York where they can just catch a bus and see twenty clients in a week,” says Turner. “What sets LModelz apart is the drive and hunger and passion for wanting to do this form of entertainment.”

The talent for LModelz signs on for a 1 to 3 year term, giving Turner time to expose the best of their abilities. They typically start from the ground up, but if they work hard and show potential, their contracts are renewed and they keep at it. She encourages those who don’t get signed with agencies the first time to really look in the mirror and decide if modeling is what they really want. If the answer is “yes”, then taking acting classes to develop more personality, doing as many test shoots with respected photographers to build skill and confidence and studying the industry is the way to increase future, potential opportunities to become a signed model.

“I think LModelz has motivated and inspired all people, not just in the fashion community here,” says Turner. “If there’s something you want to do sometimes you have to create the opportunity to make it happen, and just do it! Don’t use where you are, what you’re limited to, what you don’t know as your excuse. Figure it out, make it happen, and be open to all the opportunities available.”

Here’s to LModelz. May you have many more years of success!

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