Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Model Management Agency - MMA: Amanda Talijan Lights Up London

Model Management Agency - MMA is recognized as one of the most respected talent agencies in the Philadelphia and Tri-State area since it was founded in 1989.

Amanda Talijan @Mandsmania, one of MMA's many successful models, leads her blog with an adapted quote, "Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you'll land among the stars." 
Talijan's selection of Norman Vincent Peale's famous motivational lines smartly matches her persistently positive outlook. This New Jersey native has also demonstrated that she recognizes one of life's greatest challenges. 
Everyone's individual equation is established through their natural gifts. The manner in which each person chooses to develop and use their talents directs us toward solutions. Answers are then creatively discovered along the way. 
Someone who's born in New Jersey doesn't just happen to begin her modeling career in Philadelphia, appear in Fashion Week in New York and then move to London in less than two years time. Luck wasn't a deciding factor in this instance. Instead, a strong person, who has a good family, built solid friendships and is blessed with the right career connections, created her uniquely inspiring real-life story. 
From the beginning 
Talijan was born in Phillipsburg, New Jersey in 1990. She grew up less than twenty minutes north in the same-state town of Belvedere. 
Her parents (Sharlenee and Gary) fully supported her choice to attend Millersville University after graduating from Notre Dame Catholic High School in 2009. So, with an impressive volleyball scholarship packed in her suitcase and focused dedication secured within her character, she began to pursue a Masters Degree in Psychology. 
"My parents have always supported me and my sisters ( Gabby, 20 and Maddie, 17). They instilled the idea that no matter what we do, we should commit to doing our best and make sure to do it 100%. I've taken that same approach toward my career. 
"I remember from a very young age that I would have conversations with people and they would explain how they felt emotionally at that moment. I always found myself wanting to understand why people felt the way that they did. Studying psychology helps me to understand more about human nature," Talijan said. 
Even though she enjoyed the subject matter, Talijan didn't feel that career path fit her current aspirations. By the spring of 2012, a meeting helped to open a new door. 
Gary Talijan was attending a dinner party when he showed a photo of his family to a friend who referred him to Ellen Wasser-Hrin (the Founder and Director of MMA/ Model Management Agency). Gary relayed the advice he received to Amanda, who was in her third year of college, and a new career was set to begin. 
Recognizing her path 
"When I chose to leave school I had this weird feeling that I wanted to do something else. But, I wasn't sure of the direction that I wanted to go in. And then I met Ellen and everything fell into place. I felt like I was at peace. I adore her. I walked out of her office and I felt that modeling was what I was meant to do next in my life," Talijan said. 
Model Management Agency - MMA began serving as Talijan's mother agency. That vital business decision allowed this model's career options to flourish. 
"I started modeling at an age where most people's careers have peaked, or are almost over. So, there were definitely times when I thought that I was so much older than everyone else when I started out. 
"Using my experiences has helped me to reason, understand and accept the ups and downs of my career. So, I really think that it benefited me to start my career later in life," Talijan said. 
Positive parental influence 
"I sat down with my parents and we talked about finishing school, or leaving and choosing to pursue a modeling career. I really put a lot of thought into the pros and cons of everything and it just played out in a way that everything happens for a reason and this is the next step. 
"My parents realized that I was taking a huge risk. But, when they met Ellen they connected with her and understood why I had such a positive outlook on this new journey. 
"Ellen is such a spiritual person. She has been in the industry for many years and is still so true to who she is. That's what gave me a positive start and without that, I probably wouldn't have continued on with this journey at all," Talijan said. 
Inside the industry 
"Modeling is an art form and the industry is so much more than being tall, thin and pretty," Talijan said. 
That statement makes what this 5' 8 1/2" model has already accomplished that much more impressive. Her rapid ascent in a highly-competitive world hasn't happened by chance. 
After working a variety of bookings through the summer of 2012, New York City was alive with her name on one particular fall day.
"I began building my book and getting the vibe of the industry. I spoke to Ellen and shared with her that I was ready to make the move to New York. Based upon my age and experience, she totally supported my decision," Talijan said. 
On her birthday (September 27, 2012) Wasser-Hrin accompanied Talijan to the Big Apple. By day's end she had contracts with a commercial agency and a high-fashion agency. 
Talijan moved to New York and appeared in presentations at Fashion Week in January 2013. She followed in the footsteps of Kate Moss and Cara Delavingne, who also stood under the traditional six foot model mark. Like those famous ladies, she also helped to break tradition. 
"At that point it was starting to get a little overwhelming. I was looking at these girls who were so much taller than me. But, I was there and doing it. So, I wanted to give it all that I had. 
"The way that it happened (in New York) was meant to be," Talijan said. 
A self-made business plan 
"After Fashion Week was over, I left the city and moved back home but continued to go on castings and book work in both New York and Philadelphia. 
What sets winners apart from those who settle for past glory is persistence and a belief in tomorrow. So, after doing a few Look books between March and May a life-changing opportunity stood dead ahead. 
"I've always kept notes. Every three months I make a list of what I've accomplished and compare it to what I've done previously. I keep track of whether I'm progressing in all areas of my life. 
"It's important to remember the positive and negative things and to not forget the little things," Talijan said. 
In transferring her experiences and hopes to physical form, Talijan was able to see a clear picture. After conferring with her mother at the beginning of August, she decided to give herself another year to see how she felt. 
London calls 
Talijan was five hours away from New York City, visiting a friend one weekend, when she received a call from her agent. She was asked to meet with London-based Lenis Model Management the next day. 
She got up at 4 a.m., drove to her agent's office, and later met with the London agency at a hotel in downtown Manhattan. 
The agent asked if Talijan had her passport and wanted to get the ball rolling. With Wasser-Hrin by her side, the atmosphere was set for the next chapter in this story to be lived. 
"I remember walking out of the room and getting in the elevator and Ellen giving me a big hug and telling me how amazing it was. (Model Management Agency - MMA then signed her with the agency in London.) 
"We call Ellen my guardian angel. She has such a good understanding of the industry. Having her by my side through all of this and being able to bounce ideas off her is great. The relationship that I have with her, I really could not be more thankful. 
"My main goal was to travel and to work in another country. It was mind-blowing that it was all happening so quickly," Talijan said. 
She flew to London on August 28, 2013. The next day she had six castings and is now working steadily. 
Wise advice 
"I feel there are so many things that you can assume about a person when you look at a picture. 
"I've made it my priority to not be Amanda the model. When I'm working, I choose to be Amanda the person. It's so much more than who you are and what you are doing," Talijan said. 
Clearly a skilled multi-tasker, she continues to pursue her Masters Degree in Psychology while working full-time as a model. Her inspiring story is far from finished, but this portion of it ends with sound advice. 
"No matter where you decide to go, it's important to know why you are doing what you are doing. Make sure that whatever you are doing makes you a better version of yourself. And, it's always important to remember who you are," Talijan said.

(My feature originally appeared on Yahoo's Voices platform in 2014.)


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