SAINT JOHN– A 17-year-old from Saint John will be living her dream later this month when she moves to Japan to work as a model.
“I always had a dream about moving to Japan, because I love Japanese street fashion and I love Japanese culture. So when I found out that it was actually happening, that I’m moving to Japan to model, I was so excited,” she says.
“My friend was over and we started crying and screaming. We were so happy. It’s so unbelievable for me that my dream is actually coming true. I am so thankful that I worked as hard as I did so it actually is happening.”
Masson’s hard work began at NWH Modelling and Self Improvement in Saint John. The school is run by Lorraine Peters, a former model herself. The school helps students improve aspects of their lives.
“Students come through the door every September and most of them want to improve some aspect of themselves. They may want to speak in public more confidently. Some people have issues with being bullied and they just want to be more self-assured and stand up for themselves,” says Peters.
“Then there is the fact that everything is wrapped in the context of modeling. So participating in fashion shows, participating in photo shoots, getting offers throughout the year from different designers who want models for different things.”
But once in a while, there are students like Masson who want to pursue modelling professionally.
“When I was a little kid, I thought models were so cool. I thought they were beautiful and I wanted to be one. One day, I got the courage to tell my parents that I wanted to model. Which was so scary for me to do, but when they found out, they actually knew somebody who had their daughter at NWH Modelling and Self-Improvement,” says Masson.
“They put me in the program. My parents wanted me to gain confidence, but I wanted to be a model. After five years, I decided I wanted to make this a career.”
To help students like Masson succeed, Peters says working with other agencies in the region is crucial in a small province like New Brunswick. So she reached out to Façade International in Moncton, where owner Marc Gagnon worked with her to get Masson the opportunities she needed to break into the market.
“I knew that if I was going to help Darrelyn, I was going to need people other than myself to make that happen. Because in the modelling industry, there are a few markets. One of them being high-fashion where you have to be a minimum of 5’9 and meet very strict body measurement for that,” says Peters.
“Darrelyn is 5’5 and I believed in her and I knew that she could make it big, but I knew I was going to need contacts in other areas of the world that I didn’t have.”
Working with Facade, they determined that the Asian markets were one of the best fits for her due to her height and overall appearance.
To meet agents in those markets, Masson had to attend CMTC, which is Canada’s top model and actors conference in Toronto. There, models and actors compete in competitions and on the final day, they hope to get what is called a “call-back.” Models and actors look to see if their name is on any agent’s call-back sheets. Masson got 32 of them.
“Suffice to say, that is very very high,” says Peters.
Knowing that Masson was a fit for the Asian market, they prioritized meeting with agents from that region.
“When we came back home, Marc from Façade started the communication between a couple of them and it boiled down to one agency in Osaka, Japan, who said, ‘we want to sign her on,’ says Peters.
That Japanese agency, Visage, will have Masson do commercial modelling. This includes jobs like modelling for advertisements and catalogs.
Peters says Masson is the second model from NWH Modelling that scored a major contract outside Atlantic Canada. The first was Laura McCavour, who was signed to a reputable agency in Toronto a few years back.
For Masson, her goal is to continue working in the Asian market. She hopes to stay in Japan beyond her three-month contract and plans to travel to other countries in the future.
“I would love to stay in Japan for a really long time … I love Japanese street fashion. I think it would be really cool to move to Tokyo one day because that’s where Japanese street fashion is really alive,” she says.
“Other than that, I think it would be cool to travel the world and live in a lot of different countries. But right now, my sights are really set on staying in Japan for as long as I can and experiencing all the culture and all the cool things they have to offer.”