Our gorgeous Faith is privileged to be represented by specialist talent agents Zebedee Management. The amazing stories of Faith’s fellow models are usually the focus of the agency’s promotions but this weekend, as they celebrate 18 months of success, the spotlight is being shone behind the scenes on Zebedee’s inspirational directors, Zoe Proctor and Laura Johnson. Here Zoe gives us an insight into their story so far…
Both Laura and I have a background in working with young people and adults with disabilities and additional needs and the media industry too.
Laura is a qualified social worker and mummy of a child model and I’m a qualified FE lecturer, specialising in teaching performing arts to people with disabilities, I have also worked as a model myself for over 20 years.
Laura and I came up with the idea for ZM on a winter walk on the beach. I remember being so frustrated at the lack of opportunities my very talented performers have.
It really was a lightbulb moment… we realised that if no one else is going to look to champion disability diversity in fashion and the media, and create opportunities for people with disabilities in this industry, then we will!
As directors we oversee the whole of the agency, from working with clients, booking artists and scouting for new talent, and working hard to get our name out there and ensuring the bookings are coming in for our talent.
We are a social enterprise, so another important part of our work is developing a community for our members, providing training and development opportunities and developing awareness campaigns.
Working with those who have disabilities means we have a responsibility to them beyond their bookings. We take extra time to work closely with clients, artists, parents, carers and service providers to build a transparent, trusting relationship and to manage the expectations of everyone involved. We put in a huge amount of time and energy into ensuring their talent is supported and protected throughout the casting and creative process. We attend shoots to alleviate anxiety, hold workshops to better understand vulnerabilities and strengths, build confidence and support the families with community social media groups.
We have a long way to go but our passion and drive has only grown and grown and to think we have helped some incredible people realise their dreams makes us so proud.
The support we have been receiving recently is wonderful too – Emma Gardner from ELVIS ad agency says: “ I want to talk about the unsung heroes, the two women that helped cast the recent models you have been seeing in some huge campaigns, two women that are doing brilliant work in driving real change behind the scenes.
Zoe and Laura founders of Zebedee Management, a specialist model and talent agency working with, and for, people with disabilities and difficulties in this brutal industry. With a unique and incredibly important USP, their clear company ethos is both impressive and humbling.”
Our models say:
“The experiences I’ve had from being a part of Zebedee have been life changing. They have given me not only a sense of belonging but also body empowerment and a better positive outlook on not only my looks but my opportunities in the future. I use a wheelchair and they do not see it as a problem but a part of who I am and they embrace it. Which has helped me embrace it too. It has completely changed my life for the better and I can’t wait to see where this journey takes us all. Thank you.”
“Gabriel has gained confidence in front of others. His concentration and listening skills have increased. He enjoys being in front of the cameras, but doesn’t just do his own thing now. He can follow direction with increased understanding and he is less dependent on us (parents). As a family we are proud to be part of team Zebedee, we feel valued and very much that the team know us as a family.”
“Zebedee has given me purpose and self confidence to be who I am! I feel comfortable with myself and my disability which I saw as something that held me back, but not anymore, I can see a future for myself. I LOVE TEAM ZEBEDEE!! It couldn’t be run by two better people!”
We are now 18 months old and the company is still in its infancy but momentum is truly gathering, we have now had models booked for nearly all of the major high street brands, including the groundbreaking River Island campaign, Marks and Spencer’s, Mothercare and Matalan. We have had models featured in Hunger magazine by Rankin, walking in London Fashion Week, starring in several of the big soap dramas and loads more bookings by forward thinking companies.
We work tirelessly to make a positive change not just for our models lives but to a world wide audience in the hope we can breakdown barriers and see a more inclusive representation of differently abled people in the media and fashion worlds, to normalise what is possibly the last taboo.