Photos by Munachi Osegbu


Get To Know The Models Of LGBTQIA+ Agency New Pandemics

We chat with six emerging models on the state of LGBTQIA+ inclusivity in the industry

Inclusivity and diversity have been buzzwords in the fashion industry for a while now, but true representation is still nowhere near it should be. But model casting and management agency New Pandemics is hoping to change that.

It was just over a year ago that casting director Cody Chandler launched the agency, with the intention to bring more visibility to LGBTQIA+ models and use fashion's platform to bring more awareness of the LGBTQIA+ community, in general.

More than just models and members of the LGBTQIA+ community, the people represented by New Pandemics are activists, artists, students, actors, creatives, and more—simply put: They're the future. We chatted with six of them about the current state of the industry, the importance of an agency like New Pandemics, and, you know, everyday life in New York. Get to know each of them, below.

Dylan Camp

How did you first get involved with modeling? What was the atmosphere of the industry like when you started?

I was in college when I [signed], after my agent found me on Instagram. I was so sure that I would be successful with my career that I actually stopped going to classes. I knew that I wanted to be an artist in New York, but I would've never thought that modeling would just fall into my lap.

The atmosphere of the industry when I first started modeling was very upbeat and high glam, and still is, and I love it. The atmosphere was only intimidating in the beginning, when I was unsure of how to display my personality on camera, but once I figured out how to have fun with it and not overthink something as simple as taking pictures and playing dress-up, it manifested into my brightest dream ever.

When you're not modeling, what else are you working on?

I'm usually taking it easy and enjoying life. I frequently work on my clothing line World Trade; however, I'm in a place where I am just honoring my talents by only making things for myself and for fun. I like to do tattoos on myself and on my friends, and I also love to dance and make music so much!

Why do you think it's important for an agency like New Pandemics to exist in the year 2019?

The world needs agencies like New Pandemics because the lack of queer and trans models in the public eye—whether because they weren't out, or their agencies weren't aware of their sexuality—left a huge interest and demand in LGBTQIA+ models for companies that are looking to attract queer customers, or even to let people know that their company stands with the LGBTQIA+ community.

What is your approach for overcoming self-doubt and other obstacles you face in and outside of modeling?

I try not to have any self-doubt because I have to be my own cheerleader, if anything else. I know that I have a community behind me, so that also reminds me that I am doing this for a bigger cause other than myself, and that is to be an amazing representation of myself, and others like me who also deserve a platform to express their dreams into reality.

Dylan is wearing a Habitual jacket, Private Policy pants, and their own jewelry. Cory is wearing a No Sesso jacket, Private Policy shorts, Palomo Spain shoes, Garni tights, and their own jewelry.

Cory Walker

Tell us a bit about yourself.

I'm 24 years old and have lived in NYC for four years. I was born in Georgia and moved around a lot growing up. I came to the city to be a model who subverts the imagery that I was denied growing up. I never saw a representation of myself, so actually creating this reality of being a working model in a place I've dreamt about living since I was 13 constantly reminds me how powerful I am. My entire existence is based on the fact that I'm a vibrational being and a masterful, deliberate creator.

When you're not modeling, what else are you working on?

Savoring the deliciousness of each passing day. Living in my very own vortex and strengthening my vibration and point of attraction. I have amazing friends who I love to spend time with that further affirm to me that "like attracts like." I'm always having fun. I'm also an actor, so I'm in class every week soaking up wisdom, exploring human emotion, and further defining what it means to have a voice.

Why do you think it's important for an agency like New Pandemics to exist in the year 2019?

Because the genesis of it was to create a space for queer bodies to be their full selves, under total protection. It's always been about imagining a reality where the white cis-heteronormative beauty standard would be eradicated to show what the real world looks like. It's always been about honoring beauty in all of its unique forms and our own terms. When I met with Cody for the first time, he told me, "I want your photo for a huge brand to be in a mall, for that teenager who isn't in close proximity to those who look like them to look up to."

What do you see for the future of the fashion industry?

For all identities to have access, and powerful positions, both behind and in front of the scenes. For those with privilege to be willing to create space for those they know have been influencing fashion for decades. For my Black and brown gender-nonconforming and trans femme presenting siblings to be able to thrive and make a living doing what they love. I don't want to be one of the few really doing it, I want all of my gorgeous friends to come up with me. I would love publications and brands to show us front and center 365 days of the year, and not just during Pride Month. I envision doing projects with other phenomenal talent that isn't centered on our identity.

What does Pride mean to you? How are you celebrating?

Cory Walker: Pride means unity, family, and honoring each other. It means uplifting one another and redistributing whatever access that I acquire back into my community. It means putting each other on and supporting my LGBTQIA+ siblings. It means recognizing that fact that I wouldn't even be here doing this interview if it weren't for the vividly unapologetic lives lived long before I was even thought of that made it possible to have the career and life that I have. I'm definitely going to be party hopping with my friends in a great look.

David Camp: Pride means togetherness, community, standing together, and standing tall against anything that comes your way, no matter what. This year, I'm celebrating by going to World Pride in New York City. I'm so excited to mix and mingle with all of the different gays from around the world and have a good time celebrating each other!

Cory is wearing a Tokyo James apron, Calvin Klein 205W39NYC pants, and their own jewelry. Dylan is wearing a Laurence & Chico tracksuit, Gola shoes, and their own jewelry.

Julian Ruiz

Tell us a bit about yourself.

First and foremost, I'm a Capricorn. I'm 19, half-Korean and half-white. I moved to New York from Atlanta, Georgia, for school. I was never a Southern Belle, but I tell everyone I meet, "Here I am. You gotta rep your home." I'm still growing and learning about myself, and there's no better place to do that than here in the city. There's inspiration everywhere. I get inspired on my walk to get coffee.

When you're not modeling, what else are you working on?

I'm working on getting a degree from NYU. I'm not a math and science kinda gal, so the classes I'm taking are all in the humanities. I just finished my freshman year, and I'm planning to transfer to their Gallatin program where I can design my own curriculum. I'm really interested in fashion and art, and I'm hoping to cultivate journalistic skills so I can have a career sharing the beautiful things people make to an audience.

What is your approach for overcoming self-doubt and other obstacles you face in and outside of modeling?

I remind myself that I'm young. I will make mistakes. I will miss opportunities. But there's plenty more where that came from. I have time, and I have the support of my friends. The next step you make isn't your last.

What does Pride mean to you? How are you celebrating?

Pride is the opportunity to celebrate yourself in an over-the-top way, to make up for the years you missed when you had to hide who you were. I'm in Georgia for Pride Month, but that won't stop me from serving looks and strutting through the crowds of Southerners wearing hunting camo.

Julian is wearing a Levi's dress and Camper shoes. Anaury is wearing a Phluid Project top, a No Sesso skirt, and his own jewelry.

Anaury Peña

Tell us a bit about yourself.

I am Anaury. I am 24 years old, born in the Dominican Republic and raised in Washington Heights. I pride myself on my resilience, on my joie de vivre—even in the face of adversity—and on my ability to go from victim to victor.

This year, I want to empower and make the rest of my brothers' and sisters' voices in the community be heard. As I build a career for myself, I'm learning my purpose is to bring awareness to our current climate and bring awareness to my transgender brother/sisters who have fallen: Dana Martin, 31; Jazzaline Ware; Ashanti Carmon, 27; Claire Legato, 21; Muhlaysia Booker, 23; Michelle 'Tamika' Washington, 40; Paris Cameron, 20; Chynal Lindsey, 26; Chanel Scurlock; and Layleen Polanco, 27. It's important that we not only remember, but also celebrate the lives of trans women, especially TPOC. Without those voices, the LGTBQIA+ community would not have gotten as far as we have today.

Why do you think it's important for an agency like New Pandemics to exist in the year 2019?

The year 2019 is not important. Representation is important for now, in the present. It should have been done in the past.

Moving forward, there should always be agencies that represent queer models, that fulfill and protect their unique needs. New Pandemics is a good example of what the boards of all agencies should look like regarding color, race, sexualities, gender expressions, and body types. I believe agencies have noticed the positive direction that New Pandemics is headed in, and they'll use it as the example for how they grow and develop.

What do you see for the future of the fashion industry?

Looking back, even a few seasons ago, it was very white-washed and simple—everybody looked the same, in terms of the models. For the future, even looking at NYFW as a microcosm of the entire industry, models are much more representative of all types of people. But don't get me wrong, not anyone can be a model. Fashion is still striving to find the most extraordinary people.

What is your approach for overcoming self-doubt and other obstacles you face in and outside of modeling?

Words of affirmation are my love language. I ask for what I need. But sometimes, all it takes is to look in the mirror and confirm that I am that bitch.

Anaury is wearing a Laurence & Chico top, Garni tights, and his own jewelry.

What is your definition of community?

Julian Ruiz: I've spent a lot of time feeling out of place, and community is just the opposite. When you find your niche, there's that sense of community that manifests itself through the streets of the city. It's running into people at the places you like spending your time. It's understanding the references of the people you've just met. It's dressing like you share the same closet. It's the inevitable conversations navigating through the degrees of separation between you and your peers. There's just a connection like no other, and you feel you belong.

Anuary Peña: A community serves as a web of support for those included. A community, to me, also includes characters from all walks of life. A community is a space that allows vulnerability. Being vulnerable is one of the hardest things to do and is our greatest measure of courage. Allowing for intimate connections in the LGBTQIA+ community is one of the most powerful things we can do together.

My greatest self comes out when I enter a space that has no pretending or performing, no judgment or ridicule. No fear. My greatest self is achieved when these expectations are met. I, and the queer community, get to choose our family–not limited by biology. My community raises me up and allows me to be me, my greatest self.

Anaury is wearing a Laurence & Chico top, Garni tights, and his own jewelry. Julian is wearing a Tokyo James jacket and Myroir sunglasses.

Maxima Cortina

Tell us a bit about yourself.

My name is Maxima Cortina, and I am a woman of the transgender experience. I want you to know that I am smart and that I came out and have been openly living my truth as a woman since I was 14 years old.

How did you first get involved with modeling? What was the atmosphere of the industry like when you started?

I was first scouted in Washington Square Park when I was 14 years old. I was afraid of entering the industry 10 years ago, and I turned down the opportunity to sign. I started working two years ago, after Sabina Schreder, the stylist for Vivienne Westwood, approached me at the Met Museum and asked me to be in the first lookbook for her personal line of jumpsuits. I worked a lot with her after that, appearing in the window of the Vivienne Westwood store during Juergen Teller's exhibition opening a few years ago. And appearing on the cover of A Part Publications. I decided this would be my career, and submitting myself to the industry, and being present in the media is something I want to dedicate my life to.

This January I signed with New Pandemics. Cody Chandler is beyond legendary, and my first job was for American Vogue. I recently shot with Steven Klein. The atmosphere had always been great for me, which is something I feel very blessed to experience.

Why do you think it's important for an agency like New Pandemics to exist in the year 2019?

Media representation of the community is a crucial mechanism in which capitalism is used toward our advantage. It's one of the ways we can be strengthened as a group. It's important for people to see that we are beautiful, and we are people that you can aspire to be like and look like.

Maxima is wearing a Private Policy jacket and Marc Jacobs pants. Miles is wearing a Laurence & Chico shirt and Private Policy pants.


Tell us a bit about yourself.

I'm a young trans woman in love with New York.

When you're not modeling, what else are you working on?

Supporting myself as a young person in New York. I go to therapy, I make rent. I spend time with friends, I get dressed up, I read, I take the subway. I go to bars, I date. And, as someone who needs access to health care in order to function, I spend a lot of time and energy at the day job that supplies me with that health care.

What is your definition of community?

Non-hierarchical, mutual commitment to healing, hard work, and ultimately prosperity. "Ask a lot of me. I'll ask a lot of you."

What do you see for the future of the fashion industry?

Maxima Cortina: For the future of the fashion industry, I see individuality, originality, and personal style. I see beauty standards changing, and I see the future for the fashion industry is in the hands of those who can move fashion in a new direction.

Miles: I hope to see more casting directors and designers interested in centering the beauty of trans women. We, in fashion, have the power to not only dictate what's seen as beautiful but also to create entirely new beauties! There has never been a better time than now to expand what we mean when we say "woman," to expand what it means to dress, style, and celebrate women. Trans women create and embody womanhood via a means that most are incapable of fathoming, and, as a result, we have access to beauties that are, likewise, unknown by most.

What does Pride mean to you? How are you celebrating?

MC: It's confidence in your worth. Pride is embracing and loving the parts of yourself that you were once ashamed of. Pride is not necessarily even being proud. For me, "Pride" is humble. I am celebrating by silently sitting with my thoughts about my successes and taking it all in.

M: Pride started as a riot. Pride is about resistance against police brutality and state-sanctioned violence in all forms. Pride means the abolition of the social stratification benefiting the few, the white, the wealthy. Pride means that we should all have access to affordable health care that is inclusive of trans people and people with disabilities. Pride actually has very little to do with celebration in Trump's America.

Maxima is wearing a No Sesso dress and Camper shoes. Miles is wearing a Laurence & Chico top and No Sesso skirt.

Maxima is wearing a Laurence & Chico dress and vintage shoes. Dylan is wearing a Private Policy jacket, Tibi skirt, and stylist's own shoes. Miles is wearing a Tokyo James jacket, a No Sesso top, Private Policy pants, and Jessica Simpson shoes. Cory is wearing a Laurence & Chico dress. Julian is wearing a No Sesso jacket, Private Policy shorts, and Camper shoes. Anaury is wearing a No Sesso shirt, Tokyo James pants, and Camper shoes.

Team Credits:

Models: Anaury, Miles, Cory, Dylan C., Julian, Maxima at New Pandemics

Photographer: Munachi Osegbu

Stylist: Heather Newberger

Makeup: Tony Tulve

Hair: Sergio Estrada

Photo Assistants: Adam Kargenian, Marcus McDonald

Stylist Assistant: Matt Velasco

Makeup Assistant: Brendan Brogan

Beauty Credits:

Complexion: All skin prepped by B3 Balm, perfected using Glossier foundation and concealer.

Color: Glossier Play liners and glitter gels, Fluide Beauty lipsticks and looser glitters, Bioglitz glitters, and Brian Beauty Demonic Liquid Lip.

Interviews have been cut down and edited for brevity and clarity.

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