Savanna vs. The Industry
Jet-lagged from a 5 and a half hour flight from L.A.X airport in California to J.F.K airport in New York, she sits, struggling to hold her lean, tall body upright as she munches down on a Dunkin’ Donuts bagel, “I’m one of the lucky ones, I eat a lot, I probably say I have an eating problem because I eat too much; but I have a high metabolism and I’m always active, I also have no tits though so…. “. Savanna Petway is a 112 pound editorial and commercial model, who has worked along side “Uber-Warning” agency in Los Angeles, “Wilhelmina Models” “Direct Model Management” and “MC2 Model Management” in New York, and a prospective client of an array of Asia agencies as well. Savanna frequently uses the word “luck” as she describes her passion for modeling and fashion, it seems to be a nature vs. nurture respect that you either have it or you don’t, “I just meet the requirements for an agency, I’m 5’9″, 5’7″ is pushing it, Kate Moss just made it…she’s pretty lucky”.
Spending the last three months traveling from the United States’ East Coast to its West Coast, to Amsterdam with a business partner “in order to scope out European trends”, she reminds me, “they’re a year ahead of us over there, they get everything before we do…anyway, we worked over there, took a train to Munich, stayed for Oktoberfest which was fun, then went to London for a few days, back to Amsterdam for a few more days, and then came back to L.A.” I get exhausted taking a forty-five minute drive to Westchester County from Long Island, so I can only imagine how tiring it must be “living out of a suitcase”. Her fair skin seems to have seen no sun or stress in her journeys, for it is void of blemishes and her hair, although a little longer than she claimed she liked it, draped down her rail-thin back and complimented her frame effortlessly; I guess she is one of the “lucky ones”.
“I grew up in York, Pennsylvania. No-man’s town. There was nothing but trees and cornfields, the nearest store was three miles away and my nearest neighbor was one mile away” which would explain why she had such a desire to do something with her life other than sit in her elementary school which consisted of, as she estimated, “95% white kids, 2% black, and 3% Asian”. Savanna’s mother did not approve of Savanna’s passion, she herself had been a model before Savanna was born and had too many bad experiences to push her daughter into the industry. However, after much begging, Savanna’s mother lowered her defense and took her daughter to her first scouting convention, which consisted of over 200 worldwide agencies which examined the potential models for hire. It was during this convention, at the ripe age of fourteen that Savanna Petway began a long road toward fame, “I got five or six interests at that time and did small stuff around the Pennsylvania area, like some shoots in North Carolina and some shows in Phili”. Now years after she began modeling, she realizes that she is considered “old” for the type of work she is in, “I’m surrounded mostly by young girls, especially in NY where they’re looking for thirteen, fourteen year olds, but it all depends on the job, they’re not gonna want a thirteen year old on the cover of a Victoria’s Secret catalogue, you have to be at least twenty-three”, which is why Savanna’s modeling goal is to be a “Victoria’s Secret Angel”. An extreme goal, to say the least, there are many “Angels” which include supermodels Heidi Klum, Adriana Lima, Tyra Banks, Gisele Bundchen, and Alessandra Ambrosio. “Victoria’s Secret is definately my goal. I’m not really worried about the high fashion runway shit, that’s not really where the money is. I keep my fingers crossed, it’s basically all who you know and how you get into the scene, my passion drives me to work hard. Some girls work for years and years, and some girls just to get it handed to them.” Savanna Petway is definitely networking her way into that “scene” and could possibly be a future household name. She is modestly aware of how much she has already accomplished, “I did the Mercedes Benz ad which was an amazing experience, L.A., Singapore and Hong Kong fashion week, and also major company campaigns. I’ve worked with Jared Leto, I did a commercials for MTV and traveled around to different countries and states with them, working behind and in front of the camera on many different TV shows where I got to meet Fergie, Lil’ Wayne, Lil’ Jon, Fat Joe, Rich Boi, the Marley Brothers and many other celebrities, I have gotten to work with Bam Margera and that crew which was fun…” it is almost humorous how she has to think so hard to mention these names that a common Pennsylvania girl would never forget to boast about, “Oh yea, and I did a few shows for Nick Cannon as well”.
There are highlights of every adventure and usually points where all you want to do is go home, where ever that may be. “Right now my address is in New York, I have been living in the Astoria for the past four years… at times I get homesick with all this traveling though, I think that’s the worst part”. When one who is not used to being within the industry makes a judgment on it, they may think of the Lindsay Lohans, the Kate Mosses, the young, troubled, celebrities that look like they just need a hug, but if you are in it you know how hard it actually is to receive one. “I find it easier to make friends [than before modeling], I get along with anybody really because I’m outgoing and kindhearted, but sometimes there’s girls that are snotty and think they’re shit don’t stink [sic]”. At first, Savanna seems like one of those girls she claims to hate; however, she seems more and more like a regular woman the more she speaks, only with insecurities hidden by photogenic confidence. “I don’t like how it’s so competitive and how you’re always judged…they’re always nitpicking. Some people want you to change this and that, and some people don’t….but it’s good to go traveling, the people you get to meet, when you actually accomplish your goals and being true to who you are…that’s all the good stuff”. She sort of sounds like a young girl torn between which dolls to play with, the one she likes best or the one all her friends have.
“California markets a beachier, natural look; beautiful girls walking down the street, each of which could be a model. In New York, it’s more editorial, high fashion. New York definitely has more of a European look, edgier, you can tell a girl walking down the street is a model if she is weird looking and freakishly skinny. In the long-run, when I actually stop traveling, I may wanna be in California, but I love traveling in Europe, it’s my favorite; well, Asia’s awesome too, right now I wanna be in New York though”. Regardless of where she chooses to make a home for herself, it seems that Savanna Petway is set for success. She is gorgeous, tall, slender to say the least, dedicated, and networking like crazy for that Victoria’s Secret job. She definitely has a good head on her shoulders, she knows how to have fun but she works twice as hard, “in a normal week, that is if I’m not traveling and I’m actually doing real work, I go on fifty to sixty casting calls which have about 200 girls there showing their portfolio to different designers and magazine companies”. That many casting calls are bound to get you some work, and a lot of rejection, “if I had to describe the industry in one word it would be ‘stressful'”.
With all that stress, all the rejection, the running around, the loneliness and suitcase filled splendors; it is amazing to think that someone who has been going through it for so many years is so young, and so positive. I wondered if she had a fallback career, if she ever wanted to not be in the modeling industry, like how people urge athletes to have a fallback plan just in case they get injured. “I want to possibly design”, an obviously well-thought out plan and a logical one based on her fashion merchandising and marketing degree from her New York based college. Maybe it is my New York state-of-mind that leads me to be surprised of Savanna’s natural assimilation to the industry, which seems so different than the molded countryside in which she grew up. She does seem up to any challenge though, and I am sure the industry is eager to give every one it can. Our next Victoria’s Secret model: Savanna Petway