AMANDA BETTS, Ex Model Agent, Bridge The Gap Project Creator, Trustee, Rotarian, Facilitator

"Before I start, I am going to apologise, particularly if you are under 25.

It’s easy to blame you, accusing you of desires for quick fixes, instant gratification, wanting something good to last longer than a few chews of a Snickers Bar (do you even know what that is?). We blame you for not understanding the pleasures of old-skool fashion. You call it ‘vintage’, we call it the second time around, again.

The 80s were ugly, over-the-top and so much fun. I loved modelling back then when lip liner was drawn on the outside of our lips to give us a ‘gently-blowing-bubbles-through-slightly-parted-lips’ pout that’d put your duck-face selfies to shame. Our hair was teased-to-terrified by using too much of the only ‘Black Death’ we knew - Silhouette Hairspray.

We created the gaping great hole in the ozone layer to ensure our hair never lost its shape by over spraying (that’s what I want to apologise for). Yes indeed, we sprayed and walked. But not away. We worked that catwalk with snap turns so sharp, they could snap your head straight off your shoulder pads. We were in the time of the ‘Supers’. If you don’t know what that is, stop reading now.

The truth is, if I were a model in 2016, I wouldn’t have made it. I was tallish at 5’8”. I was striking…enough. Nothing was a problem for me (my saving grace), I never complained. How could I when I was often getting paid more than the photographer (and he/she was really skilled)? As a shorthaired, brunette wildcat who had suffered years of sexual, mental and emotional abuse, I didn’t give a rats about what others thought. I did win once against our wholesome ‘Rach’, though. But then she married Rod, and us mere mortal, potty-mouthed, edgier girls didn’t stand a chance (okay maybe it was only me who was like that...).

It was a calling greater than me when I chose to have my only child and figured out what was next in the career-stakes. It was really loud (the calling). It reminded me of when my waters broke (that wasn’t me): ‘You will become a model agent’. Wait, what…?

Wages were horrible, so I negotiated bonuses if my figures were good. After making $10K in a few months, I figured this selling ‘people’ gig could be my thing. I worked tirelessly, climbing the ranks the old fashioned way – good old hard work. I started at JDW, moved to Clyne, was lured by 62 until I wanted to start my own business and co-founded Red11 Models.

Eight and a half years later, and having built a top ten new face in the world as voted by in under a year of her modelling career. Building the likes of Zippora & Jasper Seven, Lili Sumner, Vinnie Woolston, Ngahuia Williams, Anmari Botha, Juliette Perkins, and more. Amongst this and even convincing KJ Apa to get off the rugby field and join Red11’s books, but that didn’t sit right with me. Long story short, I walked away.

The fact is, all my experience and knowledge has culminated in the role I have today, and it’s awesome. I attend courtrooms rather than hold court in the fashion industry. I prepare teens for the glory of achievement in alternative education who haven’t attended school since they were 12, in place of preparing models for the glory of Marc Jacobs at NYFW.  Today, it’s not just the beautiful people I help, now, I give opportunities to all sorts of people. I take care of wildcats like me who didn’t get a leg up chucked to them in the form of a modelling course like I did (I wasn’t happy at the time, though).

The fashion industry was, and still is, amazing. Sure it’s changed with digital photography, technology, retouching being a few simple strokes for any mere mortal instead of going without so you didn’t have to be retouched. The phones are no longer dial up, but you do still sit by them waiting for that call.

I will always be grateful for the fashion industry. Because while so much has happened since I stumbled on to the scene as a stroppy teen in ’85, some things haven’t changed: how creative it is, the breadth of opportunities available, the risks people take to follow their hearts, to name a few.

And remember, when you’re complaining about how much it’s all changed or it’s no longer like it used to be, just be humble, drop to your knees and thank the Lord. Because no matter what, the fashion industry was, always has been, and remains, a privilege to be involved in."