Being the ‘first’ in the entrepreneurial world of fashion is a rarity these days, however that’s not all that Slay Models, LA’s first all-trans model agency should be celebrated for. Slay is encouraging transgender models to step into the spotlight, embrace their beautiful selves and dismantle any pre-existing barriers that have been imposed by society to prevent progression in the mainstream modelling realm. Slay founder Cecilio Ascuncion’s strong commitment to developing his models into being the best they can be is purely evidential in the praise he has for his girls, and the passion he has for Slay. We caught up with Cecilio to discuss all things Slay, and how it is important for tokenism to end for trans models.
What inspired you to start Slay models?
I was inspired to open slay after I had met Arisce Wanzer who was my original model. She was such a dynamic woman who not only was beautiful, she was also very intelligent. She had previously been with a major agency and I told her she should not quit. After that, I figured there had to be others out there.
Why the name ‘Slay’?
SLAY was important because when I started it nobody was using the word SLAY, I have receipts as to when the company was registered. Lol seriously though, when you see a SLAY model, it’s because you can tell that they’re on set to kill it in every way possible.
What do you look for when scouting a model?
Other than the physical fashion rules that I have sadly inherited, what I look for is drive, the willingness to learn, and a wonderful attitude that you want to work with. I dislike when a person comes to me and they feel they already know everything. If you already do, then why are you here?
How important is diversity and representation to Slay models?
Diversity and representation are very important elements at SLAY. You have to understand, trans models who paved the way did not have a home back in the day, yet were sought after, but it was not easy coming to work, feeling like they’re hiding something. At SLAY, that no longer is an issue.
In the current political climate there is definitely more support and awareness needed for the trans community. What kind of response has Slay received from the trans community and general public?
SLAY has definitely had wonderful support, but even if there has been change, it is not exactly completely amended. Tokenism is still a problem. It has been two years since SLAY has opened, we need to change the conversation when it comes to employment. We should move on from “The First Trans…” anything to simply, employing our models because of the talent they possess.
What are some projects that Slay models are currently involved in?
Unfortunately, most projects from our clients are confidential of course. However, I am excited that this year, we will have the first Slay Model Search 2018.
What advice would you give to budding models who are interested in joining Slay?
My advice is to work hard, work on your craft and learn.
Photography: Lloyd Galbraith @lloydgalbraith
Make Up: Laura Raczka @laura_raczka
Hair: Adrienne Cheney @adriennecheney
Art Direction & Interview: Sahar Nicolette @nomorewirehangers