We're very please to be able to bring you this interview with model and activist Victoria Keon-Cohen
credit: Philip Volkers
Was it your dream as a young girl to be a model?
I was a bit of a hermit growing up. I loved watching TV and barely looked at magazines. My sister put me in the Girlfriend Model search competition, which I won, and launched me into this industry. It was another dimension to me.
After winning the modelling competition at 15 was it hard for you to adjust into the modelling environment in the beginning and how did you get on with your peers?
credit: Philip Volkers
It felt like living two different lives at the start, being at school then running out for jobs in this adult world. It was exciting, crazy, unique, scary and opened my world up. I'll never forget when I went to my first fashion week season wearing my school uniform and the other girls were being very strange. When I asked people about it they thought I was wearing the uniform for fun - they didn't realise I was 15 yrs old.
Otherwise from job to job there wasn't much guidance for young girls. I was lucky there were some very kind models (who are still good friends to this day) who took me under their wing. Also my parents are very supportive and lawyers so they kept a very close eye on me.
How differently do you feel models are treated now compared to when you started your career and what changes have you seen?
credit: British Fashion Week
It depends on the market. Internationally around London there are definitely better conditions for fashion week. This is because of Equity working with the Model Program (partnership between the BFC, Mayors office, AMA and Equity) to ensure proper food and drink is provided. This also introduced the Code of Conduct for both FW and the photographic environment.
However, when I first stared no one would even dare talk about the difficulties we experience for fear of being black listed or labeled 'difficult' - now thankfully there is more open communication and understanding.
The Diversity Coalition has been publicised recently through Naomi Campbell, Tyra Banks and Iman speaking out about the lack of diversity on the runway. What are your views on this and what would you like to see happen?
I think black women are stunning. I love their natural strength and exotic features. Race on the catwalk is a tricky one because fashion itself is tied in with societies expectations and views a bit of a chicken and egg situation like the 'size zero' debate - no one to point a direct finger at but we know it has to improve.
What are the 3 key things or pieces of advise you would give to an aspiring model?
Educate yourself about the business
Look after each other
Never be afraid to ask for help
credit: British GQ
What do you like to do when you get time out from modelling?
I just competed a short film called Eternal Return which I wrote, produced and directed. It's a medieval gothic romance with Heida Reed, Tom Wisdom and featuring Jonathan Rhys Meyers.
Can you tell our readers about Equity how you want to safeguard their welfare and how other models can get involved?
The Equity Models' Network
is a Union for models protection and apply rights and regulations into our industry. Models benefit with specific insurance, access to councillors, nutritionists and legal advice. Above all its an independent support network for models working for positive change with the industry.
Thank you so much for taking the time to talk to us!