The glamorous world of fashion and modeling has for years captivated fans and outsiders with beautiful designs, and arguably, even more beautiful faces. Society’s fascination with this seemingly untouchable industry is in part due to its barriers to entry—not everyone is blessed with statuesque features and mile-long legs that present the latest season’s styles with the allure of a walking art installation meant to be admired at the MET.
Yet, no one knows this industry better than Lisa Benson, Vice President at IMG Models. With over 18 years of experience, which began as an entry-level receptionist role, Benson has seen it all, and has joined us virtually to share her story, fondest memories, and insights into the future of modeling.
Q: How did you get started in the modeling industry? What was your background?
A: I was always into fashion growing up and was reading Vogue magazine at the age of 5. After studying business at Penn State University I got an internship at Saks Fifth Avenue in their buying and management department, but then 9/11 hit and no one was hiring. I ended up being connected with IMG, which was just starting their new fashion division at the time. I started at the company in an entry-level receptionist role and have moved up consistently since then, all the way to my current VP role.
Q: What do you love most about your job?
A: Being part of such a creative team that’s worldwide where you’re constantly learning something new. We get to meet and work with such a diverse group of people and talent. Hearing their visions, strategizing and developing a career plan alongside them, and then seeing their dreams come to fruition is incredible and very rewarding. It’s never the same day, ever.
Q: What is the hardest part of your job?
A: It’s not a typical 9-5 job. It’s really fast-paced so you have to be efficient, organized and able to multitask in order to stay on top of things. There are a lot of big personalities that rely on you, so you have to be adaptable when it comes to both the talent and clients.
Q: What is your wildest story from your years in the industry?
A: I once did an “outer space” themed shoot with a client in a Zero G plane. The plane would “drop” thousands of feet in the air and everyone was weightless—the photographer, the model, the crew and myself.
Q: What is a favorite quote of yours, one you live by, in a sense?
A: “Failure is not the opposite of success, it’s part of it.” So many people miss this point. I have learned so much from my failures and they have made me stronger.
What direction do you see the future of modeling going in?
A: As the industry progresses and new platforms and fashion outlets come about, the one thing that will always remain a constant is that we’re always looking for the next star. Finding great talent is irreplaceable.
I also hope that the future of the fashion industry is more inclusive. We have a long way to go, but we need to continue celebrating people’s differences and ensure that we’re showcasing people from all walks of life.