Today on Into The Gloss, French top model Anais Mali talks about racism, height, and being direct with your agency. Here are our highlights:
I started modeling in the South of France, where I grew up, and I would go to Paris to do jobs. But none of the modeling agencies in Paris wanted to take me. I just kept hearing, ‘This is Paris; black girls don’t work here.’ France is very racist, you don’t see a lot of powerful black people in France—it’s starting but it’s slow-moving.
So I went to New York when I turned 18 on the advice of my modeling scout. When I got here, I got signed and told my agency, ‘I want Vogue’—I wanted the fashion jobs. I knew what I wanted and I asked for it! A lot of models don’t say anything; they just let people take care of them. I’m not like that. My agency kept saying, ‘Yeah, but you’re black and you’re short,’ since I’m 5’ 9 ½”, which, in fashion, is small. But my mom always told me that when you want something, you have to go get it. So I did!
I’m 23 now, and I feel like the industry is trying to focus more on diversity, but there’s still a long way to go. In Milan, you don’t really see black girls on the runway; it’s sad. You hear things like, ‘We already have Jourdan [Dunn], one black girl is enough.’ I’m getting good work, I’m happy, but I want to see more black girls.