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New Model Agency: documentary highlights ‘inclusion revolution’ in fashion industry

The three-part series explores the challenges faced by individuals who have long been underrepresented in mainstream media

By Dale Fox

Composite of three models
Zebedee models Nan Mthembu, Junior Bishop, and Ade Adesanya (Image: Emily Bloomer)

A new Channel 4 documentary is highlighting the need to champion inclusivity in the fashion world, as it follows a group of diverse models on their journey in the industry.

New Model Agency launched earlier this month on the Channel 4 streaming service, featuring a cast of models represented by inclusive model agency Zebedee Talent.

With a focus on taking on models from diverse backgrounds, including those with disabilities, visible differences, and various gender identities, the agency aims to highlight the importance of representation in fashion.

The show takes a peek behind the curtains of Zebedee’s Sheffield hub, as the team drives an “inclusion revolution” by encouraging the world’s biggest names in fashion to shake up their model roster.

“Diversity shouldn’t be seen as a tick-boxing exercise” – Zoe Procter, Zebedee Talent co-founder

Through the lens of its models, including LGBTQIA+ talent Nan Mthembu, Ade Adesanya, and Junior Bishop, New Model Agency offers an exploration of the challenges and triumphs faced by individuals who have long been underrepresented in mainstream media.

Co-founder Zoe Proctor underscores the importance of the show’s message, telling Attitude, “It’s essential to showcase disabled, visibly different, non-binary, and transgender models to promote diversity, challenge beauty standards, and empower historically excluded communities.”

In addition to highlighting the experiences of its diverse cast, the show also serves as a platform for advocacy and education. Proctor offers valuable advice for aspiring models from underrepresented backgrounds, encouraging them to research the industry thoroughly and advocate for themselves. “It takes dedication and hard work to be successful within this industry, regardless of a person’s identity or ability,” she tells us.

Moreover, the series sheds light on the challenges facing the fashion industry, including tokenism and systemic discrimination. Despite significant progress, Proctor acknowledges that there is still work to be done. “Diversity shouldn’t be seen as a tick-boxing exercise,” she asserts. “To be fully inclusive, all opportunities need to be open to all individuals and should be considered on merit.”

Adding advice for aspiring models “to build a strong portfolio, network, be persistent, and advocate for yourself and the wider communities,” Proctor adds that her agency welcomes anyone who has “ever felt unrepresented within the media industry – we want to hear from you!”

New Model Agency is streaming now on Channel 4.