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modeling & talent ● modeling By Eve Matheson Experience and Expertise Laura Gentry and Emily Murphy share invaluable information and advice to guide you toward career success I nternational model and talent scout Laura Gentry was in full celebratory mode when we chatted at the Inter- national Model and Talent Association’s thirtieth an- niversary celebration in New York. Explaining her excitement, Laura told me that her career had started at IMTA’s first convention and that that first walk down the runway had opened doors for the rest of her life. She said, “I can remember vividly how it was to walk on that runway. I know exactly how these young people feel at this stage. That opportunity brought me into this wonderful industry which I have loved from day one.” Laura went from modeling school student to professional model; makeup artist; modeling school director; and founder of her own business, LaLa Model and Talent in Dallas, Texas. She became a career developer, counselor, and advisor. Her portfolio of success stories includes 10 Emmy nominated ac- tors and models who have signed with the most prestigious agencies in the world. One of the highlights of her career was being awarded the prestigious Lifetime Achievement Award by IMTA. Laura is now one of the leading scouts for that or- ganization. This affords her the opportunity to meet, advise, and guide modeling and acting facility directors who bring students to the IMTA convention in New York or Los An- geles each year. Laura’s energy and passion for her work are obvious. Her wealth of knowledge of the industry is amazing. I asked for her input on various salient topics which ingènues and parents should find helpful. First she told me: “This is such an excit- ing time for an upcoming model or actor. There are so many amazing opportunities as a result of the increase in technolo- gy. The variety of work is also greater. Times have changed. Years ago we had the super models who got all the work. There was one look and if a model didn’t have that look of the 88 PAGEANTRY moment, she didn’t work. There were boundaries that were impenetrable. Today, in our wonderful industry you can be from any part of the world, have any color skin and any kind of accent — and work! Multiculturalism and ethnicity are two of the biggest changes I have seen in the industry.” One piece of advice Laura offers to the actor who does have an accent is to study with a voice coach in order to widen the field of op- portunity. “In the acting world, an accent can be limiting,” she said. “The actors who are from Australia and South Africa and who are taking over Hollywood all have voice coaches so that they can speak with an American accent to land the jobs. From New York to Los Angeles, I hear strong accents and young actors need to work on the accent of their culture so that they can speak with an American, Latino, or an Australian accent.” We talked about other positive and negative aspects of her business. “Kids are smarter today because of the Inter- net,” Laura explained. “It gives them access to the world and any topic they want to research, including our indus- try. This is good. The negative side to this is that they want instant gratification. They see a model on the runway, or a reality TV show, and feel they can do that overnight. They don’t understand that the success story they are seeing is