By MIKE CHAIKEN
On the Lifetime TV reality series, “Making a Model with Yolanda Hadid,” the now 15-year-old Makenzie Rooney of Indiana was one of six teens vying for a chance to have their budding modeling careers managed by Hadid (mom of supermodels Gigi and Bella Hadid) and IMG.
Although Rooney did not win the competition, she did have her photograph selected for a Tommy Hilfiger ad campaign. She also had the most compelling personal story as she spoke frankly about her struggles with social anxiety.
Makenzie’s time with “Making A Model” is now complete, beginning her next stage of her career.
Via email she spoke about the show, modeling, and the future?
Makenzie said she first found her way to fashion modeling because “I was always told I should model and my mom thought I should try it to help bring me out of my shell and help with my social anxiety.”
When it came to her casting for “Making A Model,” Makenzie said, “I was actually approached on Instagram by a producer and I kind of just went along with the interviews set up by my agency, LModelz in Indianapolis.”
Makenzie explained, “I hoped that if I was chosen it would help my career.”
Although career goals loomed large, Makenzie also saw the show as an opportunity to spread awareness.
“I also hoped to show others that if someone like me with dyslexia and social anxiety, who used to hide in school bathrooms to avoid presentations, can do it, they can push through things and follow their dreams too,” said Makenzie.
During “Making A Model’s” eight weeks, the story arc followed Makenzie’s personal growth. As the competition proceeded, the improvement of her confidence was noted by Yolanda Hadid herself.
“The show made me realize that not everyone will understand the things I deal with, but that’s okay,” said Makenzie. “Not everyone has to understand. It helped me improve as a person by forcing me out of my comfort zone and showing me I can still survive.”
Although her social anxiety was discussed and emphasized on the show, Makenzie said, “For the most part I had overcome my social anxiety through modeling before the show.”
“But,” the Indiana teen said, “the show forced me even more to push through things.”
“One of my strategies is to tell myself ‘You need to get through this’ and ‘Everything happens for a reason.’ I just need to keep going and get through it,” said the teen.
Being on “Making A Model” did open Makenzie’s eyes and offered her perspective on the world of fashion and modeling. “I learned that people in this industry can be pretty cut-throat and competitive and you need to have thick skin.”
However, she said, “The fact that Tommy Hilfiger chose me as the winner for his challenge, made me believe that I could really go far in this career.”
During the course of “Making A Model,” the contestants were exposed to different kinds of modeling including photograph editorial, runway, and commercials.
Given that exposure, Makenzie said, “I would like to pursue beauty and just all-around modeling like I am doing now.”
“My dream is to work for designers that I love such as: Sherri Hill, Calvin Klein, Tommy Hilfiger, Burberry, and many others. I’m also very interested in skincare and makeup,” said Makenzie.
On one of the episodes of “Making A Model,” Yolanda Hadid criticized the contestants for not knowing more about the industry such as top models and top photographers.
“Since we were all young and have only experienced local jobs, we didn’t really know a lot yet,” said Makenzie.
However, Makenzie added, “My modeling heroes have always been Taylor Hill and Bella Hadid. Taylor because she is so successful and I’ve been told I resemble her. Bella, because she has also pushed through a lot of anxiety.”
Additionally, said Makenzie, “My fashion photography hero is Andrea Pascalau, who is based in Chicago… She is relatable and does beautiful work while making the model feel super comfortable.”
Now that the show is a wrap, Makenzie said, “I have been traveling and signed with Elite Models Worldwide.”
“I’ve been continuing to do many photo shoots and working on my modeling career with my mother agency Lmodelz in Indianapolis,” said Makenzie.
“I plan to keep my focus on modeling like I have always done since age 14,” said Makenzie.
“I’m ready to work.”
“Making A Model with Yolanda Hadid” is available through OnDemand as well as www.mylifetime.com
You also can follow Makenzie on Instagram at @kenzieroon