By Natalia Zurowski
At the age of 14, Claire Dawe-McCord was discovered at the Canadian Model & Talent Convention (CMTC) and signed with her mother agency Models International Management (MIM). Since then, the Ottawa native has successfully signed with industry leaders like Sutherland Models (Toronto), Folio (Montréal), AVE Management (Singapore), IMG Worldwide, and Bravo Models (Tokyo).
Although only 15 years-old, the poise and levelheadedness that accompany her doll-like features indicate Claire's potential star-power. This adorable young lady opens up to The Business Model about her recent experience modelling in Tokyo and what it's like working in the bustling metropolis.
The Business Model: What is your impression of the modelling market in Japan?
Claire Dawe-McCord: Despite the fact I had done some research and had spoken to models who had worked there before, I didn't really grasp the scale of Tokyo. There are hundreds of models from all over the world vying for the same jobs. That's why you need to have a good agency both at home and in Tokyo supporting you. You also need to find a positive way to stand out to casting directors.
TBM: Were you initially overwhelmed with the language barrier? Did you experience culture shock when you arrived?
CDM: In preparation, I bought a "Learn Japanese" DVD and I tried to learn the language but felt more than a bit silly talking to my computer screen and I didn’t keep up with the program. I have managed to pick up some of the basics but I tend to rely on Google translate way more than I should. If I ever get a chance to come back, I will take some language lessons!
I am lucky that one of my best friends from home and her family are Japanophiles and their Japan 101 lessons have proven invaluable. Also, my neighbour is from Osaka and she gave me a Japan survival guide with some basic rules of etiquette. Even with all of that, the easiest answer to the question is, ABSOLUTELY!
TBM: What is your favourite part about the market in Tokyo and the city in general?
CDM: Tokyo is such a big city and it can be a bit intimidating at first. There are many opportunities for models beyond just magazine work. Stores in Tokyo do their own advertising and there is a lot of catalogue and e-commerce work as well.
Tokyo is an incredibly energetic and electric city and there's always something happening. I have discovered so many street festivals, parades, and community events just by walking around and exploring. It's a city of neighbourhoods, each with its own unique character. I can’t imagine how anyone could ever get tired of Tokyo!
TBM: What would you say has been the main difference between the type of jobs you book in Canada versus Japan?
CDM: I have mainly been booked for e-commerce jobs in Tokyo whereas at home I have done more beauty shoots. The first job I did when I got to Tokyo was for a catalogue and it's really exciting to walk into the store afterwards and see your picture on the wall.
TBM: Was it difficult to adjust the casting process in Tokyo?
CD: I wouldn't say it was a difficult adjustment because despite the number of models at some castings, everything is well organized and doing some waiting comes with the job.
I will say that there's a distinct advantage to being driven to your castings. In a city as large and as complicated as Tokyo, I would be forever lost! The downside is you spend a lot of time in traffic and waiting for the other girls to finish their casting. The days can be really long but somehow it's still fun - and really, how could there be a better summer job?
TBM: What advice would you give other models before coming to Tokyo?
CD: Take some language and cross-cultural lessons. Although Tokyo is a modern city, there are many customs and traditions that are very important and should be respected. From taking-off your shoes, to how you receive someone's business card, there are very clear rules that should be observed.
I have also noticed that people are always dressed nicely in Tokyo. Even when you aren't working, it's important to dress well.
TBM: What are your plans after Tokyo?
CD: I get back just in time for school to start, so that will be my first priority. But I am hoping to keep working as much as possible!
Claire is represented by Sutherland Models (Toronto), Folio (Montréal), AVE Management (Singapore), IMG Worldwide, and Bravo Models (Tokyo). Connect with Claire on Instagram.