Meet Morgan Whitney.
She’s a Baltimore, MD native, who became fascinated with the world of plus size modeling in 2010. Since then, #MorganTheModel has worked with Tia Lynn Lingerie, and she’s walked in well known plus size events; Plus Night Out and Curves Rock Weekend. This month she returns to the Full Figured Fashion Week runway.
Keep reading as Morgan Whitney shares her journey as a plus size model. In the following interview, she shares her personal and professional goals, challenges, and victories.
Tell me about your journey as a model. How did you get your start?
Overall, my journey has been filled with ups and downs, but I will say that through the downs I found ways to pick myself back up and go harder. I received a few no’s here and there, but that is what ignites the fire in me, the need to get better.
I got my start when I heard about this casting in Baltimore, MD for a plus runway show. Looking back on that casting, it was really a humble beginning. When I got there, I walked into the audition room where I met Teronce Styyles and Kionne T. Agent. I came to the casting with a printout of a selfie–not even a decent headshot– and some 2-inch heels I bought from Walmart lol. I’m sure they were giving me the side eye. As nervous and intimidated as I was, I gave it a shot and got my first “yes.” Not only that, they gave me a great foundation to start with, of which I’m still grateful. I also started shooting with Jeff and Aisha Butler in Baltimore, who also gave me great insights. I like to call them my fashion family back home. From that point on, I used every experience to absorb as much as I could about the industry.
Fast forward to when I moved to New York. It was scary at first, but at the same time, I was so excited to get to know new people. One of the first castings I attended was the NYC Plus Model Network casting hosted by Joy Ashley. This was essentially the beginning of my career as New York-based model. From there I began to network and attend many castings, which helped me to learn the ropes and meet a lot of great people. One thing I will say is that from the beginning of my journey now, I will never forget those who helped me.
Off all of the things, you could do, what made you want to model?
There are a few things on my plate at the moment, from working on my first film project to styling, but of all of that, modeling is my first love. What attracted me to modeling the most is the creative aspects of it and sometimes being able to tell a story or send a meaningful message through it. It is my escape from stress. Whenever I’m in front of the camera or on the runway, I focus on delivering so much that I forget about all my worries.
Another reason is that some people in society have unrealistic standards of beauty and many young girls, in particular, feel that they have to look airbrushed, be skinny and filtered to the gods to be beautiful. Being a plus (and proud to be plus) model opens more eyes to the fact that being curvy (and tall) isn’t a stigma. I am glad to be part of an industry that sends the message for people embrace their bodies.
You’ve walked in a number of runway shows. What goes through your mind as you take your first step on the runway?
Nervousness! My heart is always doing backflips right before I hit the runway, but I love every second of it. It is almost like an adrenaline rush. I always think to myself “if I fall, then graciously get back up and keep it moving.” This is a concept that I apply in life as well.
In the past, we’ve featured a number of models on our virtual covers. Which models do you look up to and who do you think paved the way for you?
There are quite a few plus models that I admire, including Ashley Graham, Fluvia Lucera, and Denise Bidot. As an African American plus model, I feel that the ones who have had a more direct impact on me are Gwen DeVoe, Sharon Quinn, and Wyinnetka Aaron, and Liris Crosse. The ambition, humility, and business mindset of these women are everything. Gwen and Sharon are veterans in the game who I appreciate simply for their realness and willingness to help others in this industry to flourish. Wynnetka, who has worked for some of the most well-known brands, is one of the most humble and warm people that I have met, which is what I love about her. Liris, which I’m sure she already knows, is someone who is also very influential to me because her grind is serious. In addition to being a model, she uses her platform to educate and motivate those in the industry who need it, and a bonus is that she’s from Baltimore like me.
You moved to NYC to pursue your dream of being a model in 2013. What led to you making that decision?
The number one thing that prompted me is my mom; she had already been here before I moved (long story). After I finished college with my MBA in marketing, I wanted to move to NYC to be closer to her, and since I was serious about growing my career, I knew it would be the best market to do so. I’m so thankful for her because she has been supportive of me since day one and always gives me the best advice.
Do you ever regret making such a move?
Not at all. Though my first year here was a little rough, from working temp jobs to an internship, to traveling to castings and shows on my last dollar, I was able to make it work. Things have gotten better after the first year, but despite the rough patches, I don’t regret it at all because the experience of living in NYC has taught me how to grow not only as a model but as a woman. I have learned so much in the past three years, and I still am.
How does modeling allow you to express yourself creatively?
I love the fact that modeling is essentially like acting and through either print projects or runway, you have to become that “actress” and channel the right energy to be in character. Sometimes I consider modeling as a challenge, but in a good way. If I am going through stress in my personal life, I am able to challenge myself by overcoming it and turning negative energy into positive energy. If I were doing a shoot that would be typically out of my comfort zone, I challenge myself by just going for it and having fun.
You also have experience as a stylist. What made you decide to go that route?
I had been styling myself for a few years, but never credited myself much for it because many models style themselves for shoots. After taking a look at my port and noticed how much of I styled I knew I wanted to keep doing it. I thought to myself this is something else I could pursue in addition to modeling once I get more in depth into it and learn more about the art of it.
Do you think you’ll ever stop modeling to become a stylist?
No, I love modeling too much to stop. It may be a challenge to do both at the same time, but I am able to handle it.
Who is your dream client to work with?
I have a handful! It would be great to work with retail brands like Ashley Stewart, Forever21+, Fashion to Figure, and Lane Bryant. I would love to work with lingerie and swimwear clients as well. Hips and Curves, Elomi, and Swimsuits for All are on my list. As the plus market is expanding, I would also love to represent for the tall, curvy women with brands that typically don’t use us.
What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?
I really love to cook, which is something I think I picked up from my father. I like trying new ideas that I find and adding my own twist to it sometimes and just having fun with it. I love to laugh and enjoy the company of my friends and family whenever I can.
What is one thing people would be surprised to know about you?
I was close to quitting modeling a couple of months before I even moved to New York, around November 2012. That feeling of quitting was only temporary of course because I felt I had so much more ahead of me to experience and I know in my heart I’m not a quitter. I promised myself I wouldn’t let anything or anyone deter me from doing what I love.