Monika Kielczewska, International Scout: Inside Elite Model Look
As International Scout, Monika Kielczewska is an essential part of the Elite Model Management team. Scouts are responsible for finding new faces for the network to represent, which means everything from locating potential models to helping them get ready to work with the agency and in the wider industry. We sat down with Monika to find out what makes her tick day to day, and the moments she loves most in her job.
Your title is International Scout at Elite – what are you responsible for?
Scouts wear many hats. At the agency, we take the first Polaroids, the first measurements, the first video of the model walking. Mostly, I meet brand new girls that have never had a fashion shoot nor walked a catwalk. As a scout, I look for modeling potential, a muse, someone outstanding and charming. I travel to different places and scout in the street, or at concerts or places where there are lots of young people. I visit agencies where they sometimes hold castings for models who might be suitable to sign with Elite. Before the casting begins, I try to introduce myself, explain what is our philosophy and what the casting is going to look like, this tends to ease any nerves. We are dealing with very young people who might be insecure, who are still in school and come from different backgrounds, while the industry requires from them the absolute professionalism and devotion. That said, my goal is to help young girls transition into empowered women who will become a great example, have a positive impact and will send a meaningful message to the younger crowd.
What are the challenges of your job?
The biggest challenge is to provide a long term career in the era of social media where new faces are popping out of every nook and cranny, and, moving forward in their career, the transition of an established model from a public figure to celebrity. The term "fashion model" was established 185 years ago, when there were no requirements and the profession was not highly desirable, therefore there was no competition. These days, not only are there height and age requirements, but the amount of the girls on the market is outrageous. This, in turn, translates into a significant pressure for scouting and management to raise not only a successful model but unstoppable women who will become a brand in their own right.
What makes you happy at work?
It is hard to put into words how joyful a single “thank you” can make you. “Thank you for believing in me and supporting me for all those years.” The idea of helping to raise independent woman makes me truly happy. I want models to understand that modeling gives them a chance for the brighter future. Their voice stands out and they are capable of influencing and inspiring generations. Being a public figure, they have a power to change the world!
How did you become a scout?
I never thought that I would end up in the modeling industry. As a child I had million hobbies from being a ball dancer and singing at the church (I have a terrible voice - you don’t want me to sing!) and at one point, I ended up snowboarding with a group of crazy boys. My mom let me live and try all kinds of things so everything came to me naturally. But for as long as I can remember, I have always had an interest in fashion. When I was young, my mom used to order fashion catalogues and I was cutting out my favorite looks and was admiring the models. I used to visit modeling websites, looking at the faces and guessing who is going to be the next star... it sounds hilarious when I think about this now! As a teenager I started an online vintage site with my girlfriends and I was working in each field which was connected to fashion. Then once after a fashion show, I met the agent of iconic Malgosia Bela and this is how it all started...
Who are you most proud of discovering?
At Elite we work as a team and avoid taking a credit. Anyone can find a girl but it takes a group of experienced and passionate people to raise a star. It is a teamwork between the mother agent who develops a girl locally and us - the Elite network which follows her development and keeps her under wraps until she is ready to be launched and proposed to the A level clients. But I have to say that I am most proud of discovering a girl on 5th Avenue, during the shows in front of our New York office! She was on tour with her family and feeding homeless people... I was in my “scouting shock” to see how beautiful this girl is from the inside and outside. After introducing her to the team, everyone fell in love and we hope that she will have a successful career.
Do you think EML helps models to develop?
Elite Model Look travels to cities all over the world and gives a chance to participate to anyone who dreams about modeling. During the World Final, we have finalists from the entire world! The palette of cultures, religions and languages alone educates those young kids about existence of all kinds of behaviors. For most of them, it is their first trip abroad, the first time on a plane and the first time being far away from their families. Not only do they learn how to survive outside of their hometown, but they also receive intense modeling training and meet top agents from all over the world. Elite Model Look is a dream. And even though it is a contest and in the end the jury chose the Top 15 - for us they are all Winners. They represent their country at the international contest, and I think this is the biggest award.