Q&A with 2020 Model Search winner, Jemmason Power

In honour of NAIDOC, week which celebrates the history, culture and achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, The Photo Studio had the pleasure of interviewing our 2020 ‘Model Search’ winner Jemmason Power.  The 27-year-old First Nations model, mother and full-time facilitator in the development industry, Jemmason Inspires us! As one of the faces of our latest campaign ‘Inspire’, Jem was photographed alongside Madeline Stewart, Milly Bannister, Salomon Lukonga, Shanthi Murugan, Marcus Crook and James Parr. 

Q. ’What influenced you to enter our Model Search competition last year’?

Jemmason took a minute to reflect upon the “social climate” during June 2020, a time that encircled great discourse upon the ‘Black Lives Matter’ movement and People Of Colour [POC].  

“[BLM] kick started a lot of important conversations in different areas… One of them primarily focusing on the fashion industry.  [From this, we could begin to see] a diversity of shades, shapes, genders and identities within the fashion industry… Anything to do with inclusiveness!” 

As an Indigenous female growing up in far north Queensland, Jemmason “struggled with body image and confidence due to what had been presented in media, magazines and billboards and all the likes.. [at the time]”

“I never saw anyone like me and the POC I saw were always at the other end of the spectrum.. It was like I was always the ‘wrong’ shade of black”. 

Q. Have you ever modelled before?

Apart from a brief out-of-pocket portfolio experience, Jemmason had never pursued modelling before entering our 2020 ‘Model Search’ competition.  With a core focus on inclusiveness and self expression at TPS, Jemmason could hear this opportunity calling her name.  “When I saw TPS competition, [I already knew] I had been thinking about [modelling] for years, so I started investing in building my portfolio, and taking it as an opportunity to share my story as well”

The first time Jemmason thought about modelling was when she was about 16 years old, “I got to the point where I made my mum take me to a modelling agency when I was 16” she mentions.  

“I had family and friends telling me I was this tall string of a person, because I was already quite tall.   I sat down after I talked to whoever, and looked around the room and thought to myself… ‘I don’t see anyone like me’ [At the modelling agency].  Right there and then, I thought that [modelling] could not be for me.  I have brown skin and fluffy hair… So, that became the first and last time I thought about modelling and thought of sticking to netball, because that way, I didn’t have to think about my long lanky arms and stuff”.

Q. What has been your view of the Modelling industry in the past?

“I saw no-one that looked like me, so inherently I thought I wasn’t desirable, and didn’t look desirable”.  

Sam Harris was the only Indigenous model Jemmason knew of when she was a late teenager.  “This was after I went to that modelling agency.   If I had known about her beforehand, I would have had someone to look up to and be like ‘I want to be like you’. I remember seeing her on the front cover of Vogue and thinking ‘yessss’. “ 

On a more positive note, Jemmason made a “shoutout to hometown Bowen of far north QLD”.  This was the closest thing Jemmason had done to the fashion industry as an adolescent.  She laughs and recalls; “There was this town pageant, and there was a runway show that one of the contestants did, and I was a part of that.  I remember walking to Disturbia by Rihanna.  Growing up in a conservative Christian background,  I felt soooo badass walking to that”. 

Q. What was one of your highlights of working with The Photo Studio?

“Oh my goodness, you get treated like a VIP from the cute little snacks with crackers and the drinks from the get-go while you’re waiting to be seen and introduced to the stylist… Also, shout out to Jemma! (her makeup artist for the day, who is coincidentally spelt the same way)”

For Jemmason, having her own “team of artists, photographers and assistants” helped accommodate a prestigious workspace that helped her feel warmly welcomed, safe and incredibly appreciated as a model.  Jemmason also praised that ways in which the sets could drastically change in a matter of seconds.   “I felt like this was my team… This was my crew!”

“At the back of my mind was like… If I’m going to be in this space on a regular basis [where your confidence can get to your head], I want to make sure I’m displaying kindness towards whoever is part of my team, because at the end of the day this is a job for them, and I have a duty here too…. I want to make sure that when shooting, my precedence is professional by being on time [and putting her best face forward]”

Q:  We’ve heard that you have been signed with Flossy Model Management. When did this happen, and what did you do to get signed?  


“[Laughs]… This was a fun process.  After I received my photos from TPS, I started to build a portfolio and applied.  Jemma, [a makeup artist from TPS Brisbane] helped me in the process of applying for modelling agencies, taught me how to find them, and whether they consist of online or email applications… Just the textbook process of applying for modelling agencies.  I went through a couple of agencies that showed interest, went through the interview process, did runway walks for them, sent 2 second video reels… I did the same for Flossy Management”

“Before Flossy Management, I got offered by an agency, and was seriously considering pursuing it only because it was my first ‘yes’. Then I was super mindful of my clear values that I want to align myself with, in terms of the platforms I wanted to be on. Although it was super flattering that I got offered, I was like ‘I shouldn’t be picky… but Im going to be picky’ ” [laughs]

“I heard about Flossy when I worked with Active Truth [an activewear brand] and I met an Indigenous Flossy model who I connected with right away.  I checked out her Instagram, saw she was with Flossy and was very impressed with this agency’s presentation of diverse models”

A main concern upon Jemmason’s search for a modelling agency was the level of diversity in the models they represented. For Jemmason, she could see that many agencies had placed models who “clearly didn’t fit the agency’s mould” under subcategories that were often hidden, despite their impressive set-work.  “On Flossy’s main page, all models are there, and all have an equal chance of being chosen.  They really display their values upfront and have an equal playing ground… Flossy had a good alignment of values, and stuck with it.. I appreciate their values, and appreciate how they align with my values too”

While on this topic of discussion, we asked Jemmason if she has seen an improvement of diversity in the modelling industry.  

“Yes, because based on my own experiences, especially with TPS and the different conversations I’ve had since then, it has been pretty positive .. Modelling has been a very positive space… In saying that, I have been very particular with who I surround myself with, and have been particular with who I allow in my space..  I have been clear with boundaries and expectations about how I want to be treated in the workspace. This is the season for diversity and inclusion and realness.. I was thinking, yes, I’m getting on the track and I’m currently on the train”

Q. Has your son seen your photos (or seen you on set)? What does he think when he sees mum looking so good?


“He says ‘princess’… It’s the highlight of my shoot.  I ask him, ‘does mum look pretty’ and he replies, ‘yes… yes you do’ in the most assertive way [laughs]… If the opportunity comes up, I would love to have him on set… You cannot help but be drawn to this kid”


Q. Have you ever used your modelling/instagram platform to bring awareness to certain topics that matter to you?  If so, why do you believe it’s important to do so? 


With an impressive social media presence, Jemmason has devoted herself to using her modelling career as a platform upon spreading awareness of Indigenous teachings and social affairs.  


“[Having a modelling platform and social media presence] is a big reason why I started being intentional with my posts, and how I wanted to distribute my images and quotes… A lot of that came from becoming a model, generating a platform and knowing that I’m taking up space and choosing what I would like to take up my space with”. 


“I did a lot of deep thinking and critical conversations with friends and family… Especially because I’m so open with being an Indigenous model, and that comes with a lot of responsibility and accountability too.  I’m putting myself in a public space and potentially gaining jobs and income from that, [so] I definitely have to be mindful of what kind of space I am taking up.   Also, because I’m not an expert in being Indigenous, I’m on a journey of learning about my own culture, so the space I take up is mainly to amplify the voices of people who are experts… I’m trying to signpost people in the right direction and amplify the voices and views of others.”    

Q. What are your future goals for modelling?

“I aspire to share a brand shoot with another well-known first nations model… That would be mind-blowing, especially because its such a small community of Indigenous models in Australia”.  Names of models that popped up as dream collaborations were First Nations models such as Nathan Maguire (who has been signed to IMG models) and Guyala Bayles  (who has been signed by Chic Brisbane).  


Q. Do you have any tips for aspiring models?


“Probably the best thing you can do for yourself is discover your own worth and self confidence. It’s so easy to say be comfortable with yourself , but there’s a lot of unpacking with that.. [laughs].  I’d encourage them to be okay with being uncomfortable, and exploring all the aspects that they don’t find attractive or desirable about themselves, and then ask the question… why do I feel that way?  A lot of the time, you would find that it is your psychology that has the problem, and it’s up to whether you want to address it and become the answer for that.”

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