South African native Summer Zoe Thompson, who’s South African, Black, French and Dutch, is only twenty years old, but the stunning beauty who’s 5’10” has been modeling for five years since the young age of 15. Hailing from New Jersey, Ellie Matias is only 18 and actually still in high school. But five-feet-nine-inch Dominican beauty signed to Wilhelmina six month ago, and the rest is history for the newbie model. We got the opportunity to chat with both Summer and Ellie to get their firsthand experiences of walking New York Fashion Week as well as how they got discovered, their career aspirations and more. Keep reading to learn more!
HelloBeautiful: How does it feel to participate in NYFW for the first time?
Ellie: Being signed to a modeling agency was always a dream. I was surprised I was picked to walk in shows my first year.
HB: How did you break into modeling?
Summer: I was approached by a model scout at age fifteen.
Ellie: I was discovered through Instagram by a Wilhelmina model scout. I was signed a week later!
HB: Which shows did you walk this season?
Summer: I walked Nicholas K, Asaf Ganot and Mara Hoffman. I also did Nina Tiari which I opened that show.
Ellie: I did five shows. I did three presentations, CF Goldman, ICB and Veronica Beard. I also walked two shows.
HB: How were the casting calls for the designers?
Summer: My agency sends me to ten or so castings per day. I usually go to the casting and wait in line. Once you go in, you usually walk. Sometimes they look at your book, or they make you try on things, or they measure you and they may ask you questions and then it’s a waiting game. That’s how the industry is. My bookers usually keep me in the loop regarding what’s happening with my options. You usually get a call back, which determines whether you’re going to be booked or not, or a fit to confirm which is basically the exact same thing as a fitting. If the clothes fit you and they like the way the clothes fit you, then they book you!
Ellie: I was both nervous and excited but also felt like I had to be great at all times.
HB: Who’s your dream designer to work with and show to walk in?
Summer: I have so many designers who I’ve loved since I was young. If I had the opportunity to work with any of them like Chanel, Givenchy, Fendi, Miu Miu, Victoria’s Secret, I mean it’s every girl’s dream to do it. If I ever got the opportunity, I would be so grateful and ecstatic because those brands really emulate what a woman really stands for, and really embraces a woman’s body and form and I feel like when a model gets the opportunity to work for a brand, they see that in that model so they book you to emulate the brand so I’d be ecstatic.
Ellie: Walking the Dior or Tommy Hilfiger show or doing one of their campaigns. Tommy’s shows look so fun and I heard Dior’s show makes the models feel like a princess so I’d love to be a part of that.
HB: Tell us more about sitting in hair and makeup! Any backstage secrets you learned?
Summer: It’s so chaotic so I’m usually in my own little bubble and keep to myself and listen to music while getting my hair done. Those are the things that really focus me and make sure I’m on time, I get everything done and I’m ready for the show. I always stay hydrated by drinking water and have a snack before. I usually take a selfie to send to family and friends, and I’m constantly Snapchatting behind the scenes.
Ellie: It was really fun and I realized you always have to be camera ready since there are so many cameras backstage. I also learned about coconut oil and jojoba oil being great for skin.
HB: What was the best part about hitting the runway?
Summer: When you go on the runway, it’s such an aha moment that you feel amazing.
Ellie: The adrenaline rush! I thought I’d be more nervous than I was. I was a bit more nervous for the second show.
HB: If you could use one word to describe New York Fashion Week, what would it be?
Ellie: Awesome because it was a new experience. It’s a good way to get a head start and get involved in industry.
HB: How is it being so far away from home and your family?
Summer: At first, I was exceptionally homesick. I miss my family and friends a lot. As I’ve grown older, I’ve learned how to deal with it better. I check in with them everyday by sending messages to see how they’re doing. I keep a picture next to my bed and try to find the South African shops to make me feel like I’m a little bit more at home. It has been very challenging for me because I love being around my friends and family and there’s nothing quite like home. It’s always been my dream to travel so I’m being afforded this opportunity and being able to work and do something I love. I’ve been very grateful and I’m so happy to be a part of the industry. I’m thankful for the opportunities I’ve been blessed with.
HB: Who do you look up to in the industry?
Ellie: I look up to Tyra Banks because she’s humble and I always watched America’s Next Top Model. She’s really successful but has always seemed to remain humble so I love that about her.
HB: What are you up to next? What are your dream aspirations as a model?
Summer: I’m going to base myself for most of the year in New York. In this industry, you never know what’s going to be around the corner, or tomorrow, or in five minutes. Of course I have major aspirations in terms of my career. I would love to go really far. I don’t just want to be a model. I want to use anything that God has blessed me with as an opportunity to really have a voice. My main focus in my future is to be able to inspire the youth and just let them know you need to work at your craft and what you feel like your purpose is in life. You really need to work at it and go for it. Don’t let other people tell you that you can’t! I feel like my purpose in life is to encourage the youth on a bigger scale than I’m currently doing. I’m trying now by replying to girls on Instagram on how they can start modeling and giving advice, but I really want to create a bigger platform where I can inspire thousands to go for whatever they feel like their dream is in life.
Ellie: I am actually still in high school. I graduate in June and plan to travel for modeling after I finish. I don’t have anything specific planned so I just plan to focus on school and doing castings.
HB: If you weren’t modeling, what would you be doing?
Summer: I’d still be in the industry because fashion is my passion. I wouldn’t want to be a designer but I’d want to be a fashion buyer for a major retail store or a design house. That’s my main focus besides modeling. I’d be studying to be a fashion buyer and find my way in the industry somehow.
Ellie: I’d be going to college after graduation probably for journalism and likely studying to work in the fashion industry or something related to modeling.