Korin Black: Mentor by Day, Supermodel by Night

Thursday, 08 September 2011 21:57 Written by  Mariah Craddick

"Confidence is not one thing, it's everything." These are the six words model and mentor Korin Black seems to live and breathe by. Though she admits, this is one lesson she had to learn while trying to break into the modeling scene.

"The biggest thing I struggled with was keeping a positive self-image," she explains. "In seventh grade I was the tallest-I was up there with the boys! Being a girl and being so tall at a young age was a shock to me because it happened overnight."

Korin says that with the help of positive influences, her family and a mentor, she was able to finally feel comfortable in her own skin.

After being turned down by several agencies, she finally got her break when she was signed to Elite Model Management Chicago in 2009, which is now known as Factor Women Chicago.

"The first two occasions I went, I got turned down,” she admits. “But the lesson I learned behind that was persistence and just to keep trying because I knew that was what I wanted. I knew I wanted to be a model represented by that company."

Though she garnered much success as a professional model, walking the runway for big names such as Vera Wang and J. Mendel, Korin has now turned most of her focus towards helping a cause greater than herself.

The Korin Black Project: Runway and Confidence Workshop was created to reach out to young girls, ages eight and older, to help instill and foster a sense of self-confidence and positive self-image so that they can work towards achieving their dreams.

“I wanted to create a platform where girls would be able to come together and speak about what's bothering them and how they can handle it,” Korin adds. “I tell them, 'I understand you want to be a model, but let me tell you what you need to know before you even walk.’”

Although the foundation is in its first year, the young model says she is already seeing some great results. "It's opened up so many opportunities for me, and I'm loving every second of it," she says. "Some of my girls did go to casting calls with some agencies downtown in Chicago. Unfortunately, they did not get signed, but it was good for them to have that experience."

Korin calls her workshop a "dose of truth," neither shielding nor sugarcoating the young girls about the realities of the modeling business. "I tell them the truth. Once you learn that failure is not defeat, it makes your life so much easier, especially in this industry.

As an African American model, the issue of diversity on the pages of some of the top fashion magazines out there is often a topic at her workshops.

"There is a veil over any model of color," Korin begins to explain. "At Elite Chicago, they had maybe three to

five percent models of color—black, Hispanic, Asian. It was very rare to walk in there and see women who have color, and I didn't grasp how serious it was until I was on the inside looking out."

She discusses the time her agent called her about booking a job with NBC, saying the clients liked her look. However, they proceeded to ask her agent if "they had someone who was white" instead.

"It was right there in my face, and you can't ignore that," Korin says. "But you can't let that tear you down either."

Yet she refuses to put a veil over the girls that she teaches at her workshop like the media do. “They have to pick up 25 magazines before they see somebody that looks remotely like them. And that's sad,” she says.

As for the future, the young professional hopes to continue her workshops and eventually aspires to bring the workshop to different cities. She also hopes to incorporate an etiquette and manners workshop in the near future.

"My biggest dream is to make this huge,” she comments. “I want more for my girls than for myself. I'd rather see them make it to where they want to go. Some things are just bigger than you."


Mariah Craddick

Mariah Craddick

Mariah Craddick hails from the city of Atlanta and is currently a junior studying in the magazine journalism program at Columbia College Chicago. In addition to contributing to GMO, she is also the President/Editor-in-Chief of HerCampus for Columbia College Chicago and is a "Style Guru" intern for CollegeFashionista.com.

She can be contacted at mariah.craddick@loop.colum.edu

Website: the-art-review.tumblr.com