New Haven Top Model Search

The Shops at Yale was host to a class of nearly 500 hundred aspiring models who boldly took the runway in hopes of being discovered. Surrounded by the Elm City scape, fanned by summer-like breeze, and amped by hot music, contestants from as far as Miami took the first steps to actualizing their modeling dreams. A few of these contestants, also referred to as new faces, had no runway experience like 15 year old Emily Rogalski. In spite of this, she and the other new faces embraced the approximately 30 second opportunity to be judged by modeling agents from John Casablancas, Fenton, The Society, and Surface.

Tips on Impressing an Agent in 30 Seconds or Less

To make a lasting impression in 30 seconds or less you need to have poise and personality.

Having poise is a sign of confidence. For example, during your headshots “connect to camera” by looking through the lenses, not at it. Make sure that your shoulders are relaxed and leveled, and don’t forget to smile for at least one shot! For runway, you can casually slide your fingers into a pocket or rest a hand on your hip. Keep your chin up and eyes forward as you walk unless you want to have a little fun batting them to the audience members on either side of you. This is also one way to demonstrate personality. Show that you are capable of embodying not just the look, but the energy and attitude that will connect with a brand’s specific target audience. A big laugh or smile is another way to show personality. Doing so not only gives you the appearance of being friendly and approachable, it gives you commercial appeal, which translates to potentially big earnings. The procedures of a model search are similar to an audition or a casting so you can apply these tips, which will become second nature over time.

You also need to be poised during waiting periods. Getting a start in modeling is sometimes a matter of timing so it’s important to be ready when an agency finally shows enough interest to offer you a contract. Be patient, look your best, and show grace as you wait for that call that could potentially transform your life forever. Besides, you never know who’s watching.

Image consultant Debbie Allen Wright of Better Connecticut and Seasons Magazine was watching. Wright, who has a trained eye for style was on the lookout for four contestants to award “Best Outfit” plaques and $50 gift cards. Her criteria? People who, “look like they took a little bit of time to put together a current modern look that stands out . . . something that represents them and [that] they feel good in,” she said. She found what she was looking for in a young man who wore a white blazer over his all-black wide leg pants and turtleneck. He also wore a black and white newsboy cap and mustard tinted glasses. “He was just feeling it,” she noted. $50 gift cards were also given to four individuals with “Best Personality” selected by Meghan Yost of WTNH who cohosted the event with Wright.

Fresh faces waiting in line

Debbie Wright with one "Best Outfit" winner

Kiara Roberts from Brooklyn, NY

By Adaora Akubilo-Cobb

Eventful Opportunity for Discovering and Developing Talent

This year’s Open House attracted a range of undiscovered talent who didn’t go unnoticed from the moment of arrival.   Women, men, young adults, and children had the option of making a red carpet entrance and were welcomed by personable staff members who led them on intimate group tours of the agency.  In the acting and television room named Hollywood, they gained insight into various opportunities in voice-over, commercial, and industrial film work from a seasoned instructor.  They also got to observe existing talent demonstrate their ability to read audition scripts, which is a skill that they will be trained in if accepted into the program.  In the New York room, more talent commanded the runway as a table of New York City agents from True Model Management, The Industry, Aura, and catalog photographer Sandy Birner gazed appraisingly.  The well-coordinated event featured an array of delectable refreshments, festive decorations, and lively entertainment.  Michael Jackson impersonator and talented makeup artist Joby Rogers, as well as season 16 Project Runway model Kylie Frink made guest appearances to the delight of many.  In between playing hit mixes, Dj Bob from Entertainment Unlimited engaged participants in industry topic trivia and winners selected from a variety of prizes like t-shirts, bathing suits, makeup, accessories, and $50 gift cards to Bobs and Salon Zurell.  

It's easy to see why admissions representative Connie Mangiafico is pleased with the event.  “It is a cool and exciting vibe,” she says.  “Different people from different walks of life get the chance to live out their dreams today starting here.”  For 24-year-old actor Forest Quaglia, it is an opportunity for exposure and experience.  Tina Kiniry knows the power of making connections.  “Networking is a part of what we do,” she says.  For new faces, the timing couldn’t be better with a busy season approaching.  Those who are offered a contract have the potential to start working as early as the summer or Fall once they complete the program.  The program which covers courses in areas like runway, acting, and nutrition also has intrapersonal value.  Kiniry, a graduate of the program herself attests to how her mother got her enrolled to help build her confidence; within a few years, she owned the company.  The agency is a full-service operation that offers support to talent throughout their careers so that they can continue to thrive.  The rapport between agents, talents, parents or guardians, and instructors empowers this success. With a strong, legitimate team behind them, this year’s group of talent can become the faces up on the agency walls that future models, actors, and actresses can look up to for inspiration.

By: Adaora Akubilo-Cobb
May 8, 2018

Stand Out in the Latest Spring Fashions

It's hard to be inspired to shop for the latest Spring fashions when the latest forecast trend has you grabbing your Canada Goose and slipping into a pair of Uggs right before you rush out of the door.  Not to be discouraged, however.  Here are some creative tips that will have you looking and feeling good walking into your next casting this season.

1.  It's not what's on the outside that counts, it's what's on the inside. 

If you haven't mustered up the energy or time to shop for a Spring coat, keep warm in whatever you own.  Ladies, make a bold statement with a geometric dress or floral skirt underneath.  You can wear a pair of leggings that you can opt to take off once you arrive at your casting.  Nordstrom Rack, Urban Outfitters, Zara, H&M, and Top Shop (Topman for my fellas) are a few brands that offer every essential wardrobe piece.  Some of these brands like Topman offer student discounts for the budget conscious. 

2.  A layer or two.

Try wearing a bright hooded sweatshirt and or sweater underneath a black leather jacket or suede biker jacket, or a solid vibrant sweater underneath a similarly bright coat.  Zara offers a variety of jackets like their pink frock coat, which is a season staple.  The loser the jacket, the more layers you can pull off - literally and figuratively!  Gap is a great brand for sweaters and there you'll also find basic shirts to wear underneath all of those layers.

3.  Denim jeans with a purpose.

Have you ever wondered about the functionality of pants with holes in them?  Well, I theorize that whoever invented the destroyed denim jeans wanted a solution to looking cool and stylish while remaining moderately warm.  The wider the holes the colder you'll be but you can minimize this by going with a pair with little distress.  You can find your favorite styles at stores like Express and Abercrombie and Fitch.

4.  Fresh shoe game.

Add some spring (pun intended) into your step by investing in the right pair(s) of shoe. You can decide to bring along an extra pair of shoes to change into for your audition or you can find the perfect shoe that frees up space in your bag because you can wear it all day! A peep toe bootie is not only chic but can be worn on any Spring day because it is so versatile.  Stores like DSW, Aldo, or Zappos offer a wide selection of styles by color, heel, and texture like velvet.  Vans Classic Slip-On sneakers, velcro sneakers, and suede boots are just a few styles that you fellas can be stylish and comfortable in.

        Unless your agent, the casting director, or client gives specific instructions on what to wear to an audition don't be afraid to be creative.  Your wardrobe is an extension of your personality and individuality.  You never know, your unique style just might be what makes you unforgettable and bookable.

 By: Adaora Akubilo Cobb

@adaoraakubilo (Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest)


Fashion for Passion Fundraiser


Kristen Taekman

"We are very pleased to announce that Farmington native KRISTEN CARROLL TAEKMAN from John Casablancas of Rocky Hill, CT is the newest cast member of the hit TV show, “The Real Housewives of New York!"

Kristen has been modeling locally and internationally for over 20 years. She got her start at John Casablancas of CT and has been one of our top models ever since.

Kristen has worked all over the world in cities such as New York, Los Angeles, Milan, and Paris. She has modeled for top name companies including Vogue, Elle, Glamour, Cosmopolitan, and The Knot Magazine. Kristen is married to an entrepreneur and has two beautiful children.

Kristen was be the celebrity guest at the John Casablancas Open House on May 4th from 11:00am-3:00pm, where she spoke about her success in modeling and acting, as well as posing for photos & signing autographs. Enjoy the video of our fun day!



Adaora Akubilo

John Casablancas very own Adaora Akubilo has been turning heads and making the news as of late. With her second year running as one of the 17 models of Sports Illustrated models 2013 Swimsuit Edition, Adaora makes a stunning statement with her shoot in Namibia, photographed by Kayt Jones. The concept of this years’ Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition was to have photo-shoots on every continent of the world, including Adaora in South Africa.

Born in Windsor, CT, Adaora moved to Nigeria at the age of 6. There she spent her teenage years before at the age of 16, she moved back to Connecticut. At that point, she joined John Casablancas Modeling Agency of Hartford, which blossomed her modeling career to what it is today.

In 2007, Adaora Akubilo appeared on NBC as one of the 12 finalists in the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Model Search. Even though Adaora was eliminated in the second week of the competition, she clearly didn’t let that stop her from pursuing her dream of modeling, and Sports Illustrated did not forget her. In 2012, she appeared in the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Model and returned to Sports Illustrated this year.

You can follow her on Facebook and Twitter!



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