Charlene King and Shannon Harris are the new Bajan faces signed to Elite Model Management.
How Charlene got Elite status
A shy, ambitious girl with a bubbly spirit, Charlene Nakeita King is from Bibby’s Lane, St Michael.
She attended Lester Vaughan Secondary School, where she was active in every sport and club – winning awards for swimming and club activity and even getting a merit in the London Music Exam. Now a student at the Barbados Community College, she is completing her associate degree in general nursing.
The five foot nine Charlene spends her free time watching her favourite shows: America’s Next Top Model, Project Runway, and Models Of The Runway.
Little did she know that one day she would be on the runway. After she took a chance and went to a modelling casting call at the Courtyard Marriott, Hastings, on Saturday, October 29, her life would change.
Charlene is now signed to the Elite Model Management. While there is no agent for Elite Model Management in Barbados, Charlene explained that models would be contacted “if there are assignments available for us.
The agency does not restrict us from working here in Barbados and they are willing to work around our school schedules”.
As Charlene explains, she had no modelling experience – never walked professionally in any shows or signed to any agency.
Well, she doesn’t count helping out a friend who is a designer “and when she needs models she would call me”.
“When the other models arrived, I started to feel very intimidated because I knew all of them had experience and were seasoned models while I was now starting.
“I thought it was just a casting to join the prestige model agency. After the first walk down the catwalk and a few questions from the judging panel, I changed into swimwear and took my second walk down the catwalk.
“Then I heard it was a contest and that it would require the winner going to Trinidad to represent their country and hopefully to Shanghai to represent the Caribbean in the Elite Model Look 2011, competing against the world.
“When my name was called in the top ten I was so excited. Then I heard my number 341 announced as the winner, along with Shannon Harris.”
Charlene said she was overcome with excitement. “My knees got weak and I bent over I was so happy and grateful all I could say at that point was thank you, over and over again.”
Going to Trinidad was another unforgettable experience. Arriving there on Wednesday, November 9, Charlene and Shannon checked into the Hyatt Regency Hotel.
“Then it was meet and greet with the other delegates, makeovers, make-up consultations and their first photo shoot. Next morning it was breakfast, then onto the heavier stuff for show day practice.
“The dieting rules were set and our lunch and dinner options now comprised of chicken/fish salad with a soup; dessert was fruit salad and a beverage of juice or water. We were being trained on how professional models ate.”
There were television interviews, a tour around the island, a photo shoot, rehearsals and a party for the finalists.
On the much awaited Saturday morning around 3 a.m. in the morning they reported to the ballroom for a grand rehearsal.
“Representatives from Elite Agency, John Bilboa and Jean Pierre, decided to offer all 21 finalists a contract with the Elite Model Management.
Then it was show time.
“At this point my nerves were going haywire. We started off with the exciting opening segment. We were accompanied by drummers and stiltwalkers. We rushed backstage and changed into swimwear; after swimwear was resort wear.”
The top ten were chosen and although Charlene was not one of them, the other Barbadian delegate Shannon Harris was chosen.
She was given the opportunity to model couture wear. After that segment the three winners were chosen: Krystal Benjamin from Antigua and Barbuda, Amanda King from Guyana and Shanika Fernandez from Trinidad, who will be representing the
Caribbean on December 6 in Shanghai, China, at the Elite Model Look 2011.
Charlene was blunt about how she felt when she did not win.
“When I was not chosen in the top ten, I cried until my eyes were swollen. I really wanted to go to Shanghai to represent the Caribbean and the fact that I made so many sacrifices to be there and didn’t win I really took it hard.
“When I returned home I had a different mindset. I saw this failure as a part of God’s plan. He has greater things in store for me and the privilege of going to Trinidad was my first stepping stone towards greater things.”
How Shannon got Elite status
“My greatest achievement in modelling was getting into the top ten of the regional finale for Elite Model Caribbean Look 2011 and being the only girl representing my country Barbados.”
Shannon Harris said this excitedly during an interview after returning from Trinidad two weeks ago. Oh, and add to that getting to model for Christian Siriano in Barbados Fashion Week last month.
Shannon, 17, has been modelling for the past year, juggling that and her studies at Harrison College. Going on many model castings and doing small shows here and there, her first big gig was at the recent BMEX show held earlier this year, walking for some talented Barbadian designers.
Before she got into modelling she used to admire local models Kari McCarthy and Imogen Cooper, whom she has now done a couple of shows with.
“I was once told that if you want something you have to get up and make it happen because no one else can do it for you. And I think that helped me a lot. I always keep the word ‘believe’ in the back of my mind to push me”.
Last month she was cast to walk in the Barbados Fashion Week. During that time the Elite Model Look had an open casting call and she decided to audition.
So on Saturday, October 28, turned up at the Courtyard Marriott and was one of the lucky two chosen to Represent Barbados in Trinidad for the Elite Model Caribbean Look search.
This was her first trip overseas for an international show and Shannon was going to make the most of it.
“Well, on arrival all 21 girls got a professional makeover and then went off to a photo shoot with Calvin French.
“All days leading up to the regional finale that Saturday, we were taught how to walk the runway and had lessons on etiquette and posture.
“We also had fittings with Peter Elias whose pieces were worn in the show.
“But in the little free time we had we got to tour and explore interesting parts of Trinidad such as Maracus Beach.
“At the finale I was one of the Top 10 girls chosen and the only girl representing Barbados and throughout these four days we interacted and met with some very amazing people I will never forget.”
At five feet eight and a half, Shannon tries to take care of her body, even though she won’t refuse the occasional cupcakes: “I believe in water. It helps cleanse the body and helps keep your skin clear.
“And to keep fit I believe two to three days is good for everyone but you have to find the time. Also adding vegetables and fruit to your diet is great . . . but everyone needs to have a bad day . . . you can’t be good all the time”, she said laughing.
For her skin she uses products in the Vivant line to help keep it clean and clear. And she is a firm believer in washing off make-up every night before bed.
When she is not working, Revlon keeps her sensitive face. Shannon likes going to the beach and hanging out with mum Kathy, dad Derek and brother Ryan in their Club Morgan, Christ Church home.
After wearing a newspaper dress in the Barbados Fashion Week show and chocolate in the Chocolate show, she sees herself in five years’ time walking the runway as a Victoria Secret model.