When Joey Rodriguez and Meredith Masteller showed up separately to the most recent IMTA convention, they were two young and talented aspiring models and actors who were simply hoping for any break, or some doors to wedge their feet into. By the end of the convention, they shared the prestige and notoriety of one of the biggest IMTA honors—Mr. and Ms. Barbizon.
Pageantry magazine: What school or training center did you attend as a Barbizon student and how long were you a student?
Meredith Masteller: I attended Barbizon Avanti in Raleigh, North Carolina. I have attended since June of 2009. So it will be a year this summer. I graduated in November of 2009.
Joey Rodriguez: I attended the Barbizon school in Schaumburg, IL called Barbizon Royal Chicago. It was about 30 minutes from where I lived. I attended for four months starting in August and each class was from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Sunday mornings.
PM: What do you feel you have learned about yourself after the training?
MM: After my training I feel like I have learned many valuable lessons. I have learned to become more confident and that hard work does pay off.
JR: Not only did I learn how to walk like a model and develop my training for acting but I also gained a lot of confidence as well as discipline because I learned more about the business and the competition that comes with it.
PM: What field are you pursuing as talent?
MM: I am mostly pursuing modeling but I also enjoy acting. In my training I have learned that modeling and acting go hand-in-hand and if I have an opportunity to do acting I will pursue it.
JR: Currently, I’m pursuing both modeling and talent but focusing more on acting because it’s what I like to do and acting makes you an all-around better person. You get to experience what it’s like to be someone that you’re not. Although it’s challenging and also very competitive, it’s something that I look forward to doing every day.
PM: What do the titles of Ms and Mr. Barbizon mean to both of you as representatives of all the schools?
MM: Being Ms. Barbizon means that I am the face of Barbizon schools everywhere. It is an honor to be Ms. Barbizon and I hope that I can make my director Nell Sutton and Teresa Womack of Barbizon of Raleigh proud.
JR: I couldn’t believe that I had won Mr. Barbizon! I was meeting with agents on callback day and my phone started vibrating. When I answered it and was told that I won Mr. Barbizon my jaw just dropped and I couldn’t believe it. It meant a lot to me, as well as my directors and classmates, because there were many Barbizon schools and I was the only guy in the entire convention that was selected.
PM: What was your experience as a Barbizon representative at the IMTA Convention?
MM: Being a representative of a Barbizon school I felt that my training prepared me very well for IMTA and all the competitions. If it was not for my local Barbizon school I do not feel like I would have done as well.
JR: My experience at the IMTA Convention was incredible. Especially being a Barbizon representative, I felt that I was already one step ahead of the game. My directors and teachers prepared me and my classmates so well for the competition that many of us did very well at all the events.
PM: What do you remember most about IMTA?
MM: My best memory at IMTA was callback day when I interviewed for Miss Barbizon and found out about all my callbacks. I had the opportunity to meet many different acting and modeling agents. When I found out I won Ms. Barbizon it made my day even better! That’s a great memory of IMTA.
JR: What I remember most about IMTA is definitely winning Fitness Male Model of the Year. I was the youngest competitor in the division and receiving the award on stage with everyone cheering was amazing. Not to mention, the check was also very rewarding.
PM: Are you still considering a career in the industry?
MM: I am definitely considering a career in the fashion/modeling industry. I hope to sign with an agent and manager in the near future and begin my career. This has been a dream for me since I was little and learned how to dress myself.
JR: I am pursuing a career in the industry. I left the University of Illinois after one semester and moved to Los Angeles the first week of February. I recently signed with an awesome manager and am going to be signing with two agencies in L.A. for theatrical, commercial and commercial print representation to pursue acting as well as modeling. I had an audition last week at the MGM Tower which was incredible. Walking into the building and going up the elevator just made me feel like a star.
PM: What advice can you give someone who wants to follow in your footsteps?
MM: My advice to someone who wants to take the same path would be to enroll in a Barbizon school, graduate and attend IMTA. Be prepared to work hard. You need to understand that there are going to be jobs that you are not right for and to not take it personally. I have been told this and found it can be difficult at times, but it’s not that something is wrong with you, it’s just that you’re not right for that job. Also be yourself, that’s the best thing to do so people will like you for you.
JR: Never let go of your dreams. Whether you go to IMTA or not you have to be aggressive and submit yourself to agencies. Don’t be intimidated because you are young. Perseverance, confidence and self-determination are three of the most important elements that you need. Never get discouraged and think that you aren’t good at what you do. You always have to stay positive. And never forget to have fun and love what you do.