She'd heard the talk. Well-meaning family and friends prompting her mother: "Maggie should be a model."
“I was always around when people would say it to her, so I heard it, of course, but my mom never really pushed it,” Maggie Sutherland says.
“I’ve been told my whole life that I should get involved in modelling. But I think I wanted to wait until I was old enough to make that decision myself.”
She’s glad she did.
Just shy of 21, the Central Onslow woman returned recently from a convention in Toronto. There, she captured some top awards and also caught the attention of high-profile modelling agents, fashion designers and others in the industry.
She went with no expectations.
"I knew it was definitely something I was interested in but it’s a lot of work and I didn’t know if I had the potential myself. I was still questioning it,” she says. “And so I went to this convention with no hopes of winning any awards or anything; it was mostly for the exposure and to meet agents throughout the world.”
And did she put on a show.
At awards night, Maggie was called to the stage to have her two best print photos judged by modelling agents from around the world, garnering second highest points in her division of 20 years and over. Then, she was awarded first place for cover photo, denoting best cover photo potential in her division.
"And then, I was really excited, I didn’t think I would ever experience this, but it was crazy. I got called up because I was overall division winner. So, I got the highest points in runway, swimsuit and photography,” she says.
“That was an amazing experience because I didn’t expect to come back with any awards.”
Maggie also received 14 callbacks from agents in such fashion hot spots as Paris, New York and Japan, as well as Montreal and Toronto.
Chatting in her kitchen and still beaming from the experience, Maggie said feedback she received has given her the incentive to go further.
“I’ve been told it from people here but when you hear it from these industry experts and you win awards, it’s a little bit different of a feeling. It’s a little bit more real."
Her first time working with a professional photographer was about three and a half years ago when Maggie and her mother, Darlene, participated in a mom-and-daughter shoot. The photographer was impressed enough that she invited Maggie back for a “fun” shoot.
So, with such happy thoughts of having her makeup done and getting some new pictures, Maggie agreed.
“After that I was like, 'yeah, I want to keep going with it, I love it.’”
Shortly after, she signed on with City Models Talent Agency in Halifax and has been involved with modelling on a part-time basis in the Maritimes since.
From an academic perspective, Maggie has been working on a degree in social work and her interest has been divided as to which way she should go.
While she still wants to complete her final two years of university studies, Maggie is considering putting those plans on hold for a bit.
“I already do fashion shows here but it’s really different when you go to Toronto. It’s faster and more high-paced,” she says. “When I went to this convention, it was mostly whether or not I was going to pursue it elsewhere. And there was a lot of interest so I am assuming that I will probably be pursuing modelling the next couple of years and just mainly focus on that,” she says.
Prior to attending the Toronto show Maggie was still torn over whether to focus on modelling or return to her studies. Her goal now is to hopefully earn enough money in the next few years to cover the cost of her university tuition.
“Modelling is like my main focus right now,” she says. “I mean, just because I got some callbacks doesn’t mean that I have contracts yet. So, it’s still a lot of work that I have to put into it. But knowing that there’s interest, it’s like, ‘wow, I believe in myself more now.’”
Cheryl Chafe, a director at City Models Talent Agency in Halifax, strongly believes in Maggie Sutherland's modelling prospects.
“She’s definitely one of the best that I have for sure. And we did notice potential immediately, as soon as she took the training,” Chafe said.
“So besides having what it takes to do the job and then having the great personality and attitude on top of it, it will definitely make her a success.”
Maggie has all the traits international agents look for when seeking out new models, Chafe said, and both women are eagerly awaiting response from a Montreal agency that has shown particular interest in signing her up.
“We’re really excited,” Chafe said. “Definitely a lot of interest in Maggie and I think she’s one of a kind, for sure.”