How To Become A Model In Toronto

How To Become A Model In Toronto

Shawna Patruno is a skincare consultant and a model in Toronto with over 10 years of experience. 

Her lifestyle oriented content includes fashion, modelling advice and tips to empower women and break down beauty myths.

I think being a model is a lifestyle.

Shawna Patruno

Q: How did you get into modelling and for how long have you been doing it ?

Shawna : I’ve been modelling for five years now. A lot of people would probably think that you need to start when you’re very young. But I think the modelling industry is changing a lot right now. I personally started at 30.

And how I got into it is very ironic. I was working in skincare, I was helping out behind the scenes and a model’s boyfriend asked me if I was a model and then my friend set up a photoshoot, I submitted it to Orange Models and then the rest was history. It happened naturally.

I always liked modelling when I was younger. My aunt was a successful model for over 40 years, but she didn’t want me to get into modelling, so I had to figure it out on my own. I got offered to be in commercials when I was younger as well.

Q: What is a day in the life of a model in Toronto? How do you prepare for a photoshoot?

Shawna : Well, I would say my life is pretty consistent. I think being a model is a lifestyle.

I eat pretty well, I exercise consistently but before a photo shoot, you definitely want to make sure you show up ready to be put in any situation. I personally do laser hair removal and a lot of masks. I also mentally prepare for it: I listen to music. I’ll make a playlist beforehand so I can mentally get into the zone and feel the vibe.

Q: How do you go about learning to be a model in Toronto? Is it mostly just on the fly, do you have any YouTube videos that you watch?

Shawna : I would say I watched a lot of videos, especially Victoria’s Secret, Miranda Kerr is my alter ego.

I also practice taking pictures by doing test shoots with other photographers

Modelling is something that anyone can learn. But I think there’s the misconception that we have to look and be a certain way, but in fact, there’s modelling for every type of person, the industry is constantly changing.

Q: Usually, a lot of people do modelling on the side, as a part time job. So how do you juggle different things and how do you find balance between modelling and your other activities?

Shawna : I’ve always had another job, I run my own business, so I’m very busy. And the Orange Model Management team has always been very flexible.

I think it’s just about knowing what you want to stick to, setting your schedule and letting your agency know what days you’re available on.

Q: So modelling, you said, is more of a lifestyle, you should constantly be aware of what you’re working towards and it becomes a part of you. So, what would you say is the best part about what you do?

Shawna : I’ve met so many incredible people. It has opened my eyes to different ethnicities, different cultures, different viewpoints.

I think every single job has helped me to know what I wanted the next time around. The different experiences expanded my mindset and made me a lot more confident and secure about myself.

We’re not always supposed to look pretty! One time when I worked with Coco Rocha, she gave me some modelling tips and she told me that when you’re working, you’re not always supposed to look pretty, they want emotion, so you’re not always going to look picture perfect.

Q: With the current situation in Toronto, do you still feel safe ? How is the scene changing for you ? Do you feel that things are very different with your job ?

Shawna : I assume there is, it’s definitely different. The jobs are definitely a little bit more scarce. But everyone is showing professionalism in the workspace. I think that as long as people are following the protocol, I don’t feel unsafe at all. I just think that there has been a little bit of a lack but that’s around the board with any industry it’s not just modelling.

Q: Why did you choose Orange Model Management ? What exactly made you stick with us throughout the years ?

Shawna : You were very welcoming and also flexible to work with. I really enjoy the flexibility because I did have a full-time job and then when I decided to go full time, you were very open with it and with where I wanted to go with my modelling career.

What I also appreciate is that you work with different ethnicities

Our contract has been really helpful with what I do in my life and I did a lot of jobs.

It’s you, it’s not your clothes, you want to wear something non-distracting, that showcases the beautiful you.

Shawna Patruno

Q: Do you have any modeling advice & tips for first-time models ?

Shawna : I’m a naturally shy person so I think of my favorite role model and I just pretend I’m her for a day, just like a photo alter ego. People tend to say that, in front of the camera I become a completely different person. It’s actually like acting for me, a mindset or a mental game.

You definitely have to know how to look different ways. So,I do practice different faces and emotions and I also bring my own personality. 

For your first pictures, you don’t want to send in overly edited pictures. Photos need to be natural. Also, you should be wearing all dark clothes. When we have patterns on, it might just change the visual aesthetics, they want you to stand out. It’s you, it’s not your clothes, you want to wear something non-distracting, that showcases the beautiful you.

For long working days, you definitely need to bring water, to keep yourself hydrated. I’m vegan, so I always bring vegan snacks with me. I’ll maybe bring therapeutic ketones because they give me a little bit more energy. I also bring lotion. Nude underwear is a must, because if they’re putting you in different clothing you want to make sure it doesn’t show through

Q: Is there anything you wish you would have been told before getting into the modelling business?

Shawna : This is for anyone who’s younger : Please do not just shoot with anyone because there’s a lot of people in the industry that take advantage of people who are getting into modelling. Wisely choose the people you’re working with. Sometimes, shooting with the wrong people can actually hinder your career. I wish I would’ve known that in the beginning because I had a lot of unfortunate circumstances, So, I definitely think having an agency is the way to go

I think it’s best to go with an agency because they are the ones protecting you.

I also wish I would have started when I was younger. There’s definitely a lot of gigs out there for younger people, so don’t let your age stop you from trying it.

Q: Any last tips for our future models who want to follow your path?

Shawna : Getting into the emotion, knowing your angles, have fun with it, but also know where you want to go with it. Before going with any agency, have an idea in your mind of where you want to go with your career. Also, know what kind of jobs you want to take because at the end of the day your agency is working for you and they want to help you succeed.

You can follow Shawna’s steps on social media!

@shawnapatruno & reawakningbeauty on Instagram

Her Podcast Reawakening Beauty is available for streaming on Spotify!