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modeling & talent ● modeling By Eve Matheson RILEY SMITH Making It in the Midwest While it has never seemed possible in the past, America’s heartland has become a great launching pad for young models to make it big I often receive emails which, paraphrased, ask the fol- lowing question: “Is it possible for a young girl living in a tiny hometown in the Midwest to realize the dream of being a high fashion model in Paris, Milan, or any of the other fashion cities?” I am happy to say that the answer is “Yes.” Surprisingly, it happens quite fre- quently thanks to an increasing number of legitimate and very savvy scouts who constantly scour this part of the country for new faces and new talent. Most of the work in the Midwest is for commercial modeling, as the cities that offer opportunities for high fashion work are so far away. Until recent years, it was thought that a potential model would have to relocate to one of these cities for a chance of being discovered. Today, a network of scouts who are either managers, or agents themselves, or have an established working relationship with top agents across the globe, can bring this opportuni- ty much closer to home. I had the pleasure of interviewing Roxanne Smith, owner and director of Creative Model and Talent Manage- ment, in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Roxanne is one of a handful of mother managers in the world. Roxanne’s son is actor Riley Smith, who is currently starring in ABC’s Nashville series. Some years ago, long before she opened her business, Roxanne took Riley to New York to compete at the Inter- national Model and Talent Convention (IMTA), which is the world’s most successful scouting event. Riley won the Junior Male Model of the Year award. He went on to do designer campaigns including Tommy Hilfiger and used his 98 PAGEANTRY earnings to study his true passion—acting. His dream was to be an actor but, as is often the case, his modeling career opened the door to a highly successful act- ing career. This would be the beginning of an exciting new career for Roxanne, although she did not know it at the time. I asked her how that door had opened for her. “The opportunity came at a low point in my life,” she told me. “I was at a stage where, unfortunately, I had gone through a divorce and was wondering what to do with my future. I started my business at the urging of IMTA owner Nancy Mancuso. My son Riley had been an IMTA contestant and as a result a successful actor. Nancy knew that as his moth- er, I had been involved behind the scenes in his career de- velopment and along the way had helped a few other kids get started. She asked me to become a director for IMTA, as they did not have one in Cedar Rapids. I happily accept- ed and started Creation Model and Talent Management in 2012. IMTA opened all the doors for me.” Roxanne took contestants to the annual conventions in New York and Los Angeles, and her boys and girls swept awards in the modeling and acting categories in both cities. As a result successful careers were launched, Cedar Rapids swung into the world spotlight, and the Midwest in gener- al was hailed as an excellent scouting source. All good model and talent managers must fill many roles