Photographer: Maya Sherwood
Photographer: Dana Bickram @danabickramphoto
Model: Taylor Stewart @taystewartt
Happy to have you here, Taylor. Tell us your story, how did you got started modeling and where is your home at the moment?
Thank you for having me! My modelling story is very untraditional. Since high school, modelling has always been a dream I wanted to pursue but I sadly had very low confidence at the time. Still, I would research everything about it and definitely had a lot of knowledge about the industry despite my self esteem issues. Years later, everyone in my life was telling me I should get serious about modelling. I had gained a new sense of self confidence, and modelling now became a dream I knew I could turn into a reality with hard work & dedication. Shortly after, I took a trip to Miami and absolutely fell in love with the city. It felt more like home than my actual home at the time! I was getting Instagram DM’s from supposed model scouts, but to be honest I ignored them because there are so many scams out there. It was when a former model scout came up to me on the street while I was shopping and highly suggested I should be a model that was the turning point. They weren’t trying to sell me anything, they weren’t trying to promote themselves, they genuinely just wanted me to know that I would have a career in it if I chose to pursue it. After that, I decided to go to an open call. I was blown away by how amazing it went. The agents then proceeded to tell me everything I would need to do to obtain a particular US visa in order to model in the United States. They told me to really work hard and not to give up on it because, “many give up on this dream when they realize it’s not always a dream. You have to put the work in, but we know you have what it takes.” That’s all I needed to hear. When I went back home to my very small town in Canada, I packed my bags & moved to Toronto. It steam rolled from there. I did a ton of magazine work for national & international magazines, and Ad campaigns. Now, I’m finally ready & in the process of getting my visa, and moving to Miami for the new year. It is such an exciting time for me and all of the hard work I’ve put in during my career has really paid off.
Tell us more about yourself. What else do you do next to modeling?
This question is always hard for me! I never know what to say about myself. I find I am constantly ever changing. I’m always growing, constantly finding new interests & passions to partake in. Aside from modelling, I really love to advocate for mental health. It is something I have always struggled with, so I love to share my story & coping mechanisms. I am more than happy to share anything I can to help other people. A new skill I’m currently trying to learn is how to DJ and produce music, particularly electronic music. It’s something I’ve always wanted to try and have been doing in my spare time. It is extremely difficult, so definitely don’t expect me to be headlining shows any time soon haha! I guess I am really just a lover of life and want to soak up as much as I can. Anything that ignites my soul & excites me, I want to try it! Life is precious!
What do you love most about being a model? And, what do you least enjoy?
I love being able to bring fashion & art to life. I love the feeling of satisfaction you get when you do a good job, because you can visually see your successes. I love travelling and having the opportunity to experience new people & places. There are so many things I love about this job and I am forever thankful that I get to live out my dream. With saying that, there is definitely a very dark side to this industry. You just really need to stay true to yourself and be aware of who you’re working with.
What is the most challenging being a model?
I would say the most challenging thing is how it all feels so personal, which can be a good thing or a bad thing depending on the situation. You definitely have to have thick skin. I’ve been told some pretty harsh, critical things from agencies & other professionals in the industry. It can really make you start to doubt yourself & can fuel your insecurities. When I was younger, I struggled with a pretty severe eating disorder, which is why I was actually hesitant to really get into this industry. I was worried about how I would face rejection, because it is inevitable, but to my own surprise I think I’ve handled it pretty well. Any time I receive rejection now, I look at it this way: there is nothing wrong with me, it’s not that I’m not good enough, I’m just knocking on the wrong door.
If you could change something in the modeling world, what would it be?
I would love to change the standards. The industry has definitely gotten a lot better, but it still has a long way to go. I seriously don’t understand why there are still so many professionals in the industry with such an old school way of thinking. There isn’t just one prototype for beauty. There is beauty in everyone in many different ways. People should be able to embrace who they are and really OWN who they are, rather than being told to completely change themselves. If you are comfortable in front of a camera, present yourself professionally, take care of yourself, and are willing to put the work in, you can be a model & should be given a chance, period. Beauty is completely subjective. Just because one person doesn’t see it doesn’t mean there aren’t hundreds of others who won’t. Focus more on who you are as a person and what you bring to this world. You are more than a body. You are more than a face.
What fuels your imagination and provides you with inspiration?
I love this question! I have a pretty great imagination to be honest. I am constantly visualizing experiences. The idea of bringing my imagination to life is what keeps me motivated, professionally & personally. I love modelling because it’s so visual & you have the opportunity to be a part of someone else’s imagination. I find inspiration in many things, whether it be other models, projects, magazines…but truthfully my greatest inspiration is my imagination & the life I envision for myself.
What keeps you excited about life in general?
So many things in life keep me excited! Travelling is probably the number one. Ever since childhood I have been utterly obsessed with new experiences. I love change. I love being out of my comfort zone. I love a lot of the people I’ve met. I love how every place I’ve ever been has shown me a new piece of myself. Travelling is growth.
Looking back how has modeling experience changed your personal/professional life? Have you grown more comfortable with yourself since you have started?
Modelling has dramatically changed my life in the best way possible. I finally feel like I’m doing what I’m meant to be doing in life. I feel productive, more confident, and overall just happier in general. I feel proud of myself for my accomplishments & the work I’ve put in. When you find your passion, there is no going back.
What kind of life would you like to have?
It’s so weird, because part of me wants a big extravagant life, and then another part of me wants to live by myself in a little cottage on a mountain top! For the most part, I definitely crave success & larger than life experiences. I have a lot of major goals that I want to accomplish in my career before my personal life. One of my many big career goals is to be featured in Sports Illustrated Swimsuit, because I love what they stand for and how they are so inclusive. There is something about relatability that I find so pure & heartwarming. You can find someone that you relate to in every issue. I would also love to have my own podcast one day, because I love talking & feel I have a lot to say on various topics. My goals are very wide spread, but as I’ve said before, anything I take an interest in I want to try at least once in my life. Eventually I look forward to starting a family & feeling more settled, but for now I’m riding the wave & loving it.
What are the achievements you are proud of most of today?
Not to sound conceited, but I am genuinely proud of so many things I have accomplished. A friend actually asked me the other day what project was my favourite to work on, and although I’ve loved every project, I’d say my first swimwear shoot takes the cake. It was my first time doing swimwear, and also the first time I had landed not only one but two magazine covers. I was so proud of those photos and also ended up becoming close friends with the photographer. That whole shoot was a big win, and one of my fondest memories.
Where can our readers keep up with your work and get connected with you?
Instagram! My Instagram handle is @taystewartt and it is definitely where you can see most of my work. To be honest, I don’t share all of my work because I like to have a good mix of career & personal life on there, but I try to make it a fun place to be no matter what haha!