PATTERN Studio: Michaela Duerson

Name:
Michaela Duerson

Age:
Thirty-three

How and when did you start modeling?
I was discovered on Twitter in Curvy Kate Star in a Bra and flew to New York City of 1,000 models with the final Top 10 curve models for a shoot and TV interview with Bare Necessities. That was ten years ago. Now I am signed all over the US in NY, Miami, LA, and Chicago and in Cape Town, South Africa and Johannesburg, South Africa.

What’s the most surprising thing you have discovered about modeling?
That there really needs to be more diversity behind the scenes. Even in 2022, I am often the only Black person in the room, or on set. In 10 years I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve had a booking with a Black photographer or director on set. The most diversity I’ve ever seen behind the scenes was a shoot I did for Celebrity Cruises led by Annie Leibovitz and Naima Green. The producer, Catherine Schramm, and casting director, Rose Rosen, intentionally selected the most diverse group of individuals for this project the entire world would see. The images have already been in Forbes, Daily Mail, and CNN showcasing people of all races, genders, sexual orientations, and physical abilities living a life of luxury travel. I’m so honored to have been the Black plus size model on that set because for the first time in my career, everyone behind the scenes represented true diversity and inclusion.

What is your favorite way to get model-ready?
Listening to Lizzo and doing a Turmeric facial.

Where do you see yourself in the future?
Helping get laws passed to end hair natural discrimination in The United States. The big goal with modeling is to use my platform to create sustainable, meaningful change. Please check out @ModelsForChangeNow, a collective of over 200 Black models.

Photography by Mikaela Helane 

Join the Conversation

6 Comments

  1. Avatarsays: Dwight Richardson

    I honestly can’t even think of a time if I ever had a black photographer or any POC on set, normally it’s just me and maybe a female black model and I have been modeling for 10 years now.

  2. Avatarsays: Chantsler Underwood

    I also can count on one hand I’ve had majority black creative directors, photographers AND models on set in the 15 years I’ve been in the industry. As the world continues to evolve around us, I also believe the modeling industry should do the same.

  3. Avatarsays: Jazzmine Carthon

    I can most definitely relate to being the only Black person or even POC on set in at least 80% of my shoots. It’s as if we’re good enough for our image to be used (and tokenized) to sell clothing and products but not enough to have our voices heard on creative teams and on executive boards behind the scenes. Black creatives and our exceptional work are constantly placed on mood boards for brands, only to be recreated by people who look nothing like us and have zero grasp on our culture and our audiences. And this is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the unfair treatment of Black creatives in the fashion/entertainment industry. I love that Michaela is highlighting some of the issues we face. The more we speak up on these inequalities, the better chance we have at actual inclusivity both in front AND behind the camera.

  4. Avatarsays: Jazzmine Carthon

    I can definitely relate to being the only Black person or even POC on set in at least 80% of my shoots. It’s as if we’re good enough for our image to be used (and tokenized) to sell clothing and products but not enough to have our voices heard on creative teams and on executive boards behind the scenes. Black creatives and our exceptional work are constantly placed on mood boards for brands, only to be recreated by people who look nothing like us and have zero grasp on our culture and our audiences. And this is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the unfair treatment of Black creatives in the fashion/entertainment industry.

    Kudos to Michaela for bringing awareness to how underrepresented we are. The more we speak up on these inequalities, the better chance we have at actual inclusivity both in front AND behind the camera.

  5. I have been modeling professionally for a little over a year and have gotten opportunities to be on a lot of sets. 99.9% of the time, I the only POC or one of few on set. As of now, I have yet to have had a Black photographer or director. I look forward to being a part of and experiencing this change over time 🙌🏾

  6. Thank you Michaela for your voice. Booking diverse models gives everyone an opportunity to relate. And honestly, it’s been rare seeing any black/poc behinds the scenes. What’s up with that?

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