In a virtual world where there are so many people doing the same thing at the same time, it is a priority to make sure one stands out in any endeavor pursued. Modeling, as we all know, is a Second Life career based on one’s ability to stand out above the rest. As a SL model, I’ve have had the chance to meet some amazing people in SL that have master the art of being unique. Freckled-faced, redhead beauty Leah Mccullough is one of those people. Leah is not only a successful model, but a successful blogger and photographer as well. Her name and image SELLS! I decided to sit down with Lean and see if she would open up about her secrets on how she made “unique a business” for herself.
Shelby Matfield: What made you decide to become a model?
Leah Mccullough: Well, when I first started in Second Life back in December 2007, I loved getting all the freebie clothes that were available. My inventory was FULL of them. LOL. Then, when I couldn’t find things I truly liked… I decided to create my own clothes. When I went looking around in stores, I found out that there were models. That’s when I realized it would be really fun to be able to model beautiful clothes for stores, like the girls in the store pictures. So, in March 2008, I was starting my first modeling course at a modeling academy that doesn’t exist anymore, called InStyle. I still have the notes from those first runway and styling classes!
SM: How would you define your journey from 2008 until now, and what help you form the foundation to flourish into the great, unique model you are today?
LM: Well thank you for compliment! The journey was an amazing one, not only because I’ve learned a LOT about fashion, but because [modeling] helped me discover how much more I loved fashion than what I used to believe. Also, all the people I’ve met during these years, models, designers, agency owners, event organizers, etc. gave me the opportunity to be part of amazing charity events, which is something I deeply believe in. I [also] think what had helped me is the fact that I stay true to myself. I believe in working hard for your dreams, practicing, trying to get as much experience as possible. That along with being innovative, trying to stay up to date with everything that’s going on, all of it helped me to be where I am today.
SM: You mentioned being innovative, and I couldn’t help to think about your “Think Red” campaign! Tell us about the concept behind “Think Red”?
LM: LOL. that’s a funny story! One day I started joking about it with a friend and she told me put it in my profile! So, I did and then I changed it to my website. When I decided to change to wear red hair back in 2010, I didn’t realize how hard it would be to actually look good in it! LOL! Since the beginning of my career as a model I have had freckles, but I wasn’t a red-head. I’ve always loved red hair in RL so when I came back after a hiatus in SL, I decided it was time for a change and went for red hair. There weren’t many red hair models back then, and with good reason: It was really impossible to find a beautiful skin tone that worked well with red hair. And… well don’t even get me started on finding a good hair shade because they were either too orange, too pink or they didn’t even exist in some stores! So the crazy red journey started. Since [switching to] red hair, I’ve seen how the red hair population, even among models, has grown. I guess that demand made designers to give us more options regarding hair and skins. I still feel that sometimes red hair models are not taken into account as much as the rest; In SL we are still fighting to get our place. One red hair model once told me: “Red hair never wins contest!” That made me start to compare what happened in RL. There are a lot of well-known, talented and gorgeous red hair models that walk for the most famous designers. I guess it will take time in SL, but it is slowly starting to show here. There’s beauty in red, and it can give a different twist to an outfit, along with a different perspective.
SM: I know you probably get this all the time, but your blog is amazing! What are some of the things you take account of when making your blog?
LM: Oh, thank you! Well, first for the technical part, I tried to find a pretty blog design that enhances the pics since I am not good at writing. I prefer to take pretty pics and let them speak for themselves. For the pics, I think finding an interesting angle to take the photo and a light that makes the outfit look good, avoid having ugly shadows under the chin or in the face. I think that turns people away when viewing pics and that’s not what you want for your audience. I also try to be original, not copying others in the styling, find your own style. For example I love to style any outfit with any style or theme, but I know my strong point is casual. It’s good to know your strength and also your weaknesses so that you can work to improve them. Go for things you like, but also try to think outside the box and create something that you know is not so “safe”… not always, but sometimes. If you do this, you definitely will improve in everything. Maybe next time you are styling your favorite style, you remember something you found for the “not that safe” style that would look perfect for this new outfit. Now you can go and incorporate that to the “safe” one making it more unique and more you.
SM: Awesome! You mention enhancing pics, which is something you are wonderful at! Tell us about your photography business, and what makes it stand out from the rest?
LM: Oh well I don’t know if it stands out from the rest, LOL, but thank you! I focus on making the beauty in the avatar who’s posing, or the outfit if that’s the focus of the pic. To be seen to its best. I don’t overprocess the pics. I try to use as much as I can of things in SL for the pics. The best thing is to start with an awesome picture. To do that you should have an interesting pose, beautiful light and well a matching setting for the background. Then you find a good angle, and take the picture. After that the rest is fixing SL imperfections, sharp edges, weird lines etc. The final touch is to play a bit with the color options. Making it more purple, blue, green… whatever fits the picture mood better.
MM: Great! I’ve notice that you have tips for models that you offer on your site, as well as a mentoring program. Why is it so important to you to reach out and help others, in a time where everyone is in “competition mode”?
LM: LOL! I love the competition mode concept! Well, I think being a teacher in RL has something to do with it! I think that one the best thing we have as human beings is the ability to share our knowledge with others, to help them as much as we can, and at the same time learn from them. I think that there’s unfortunately so much hatred and competition in SL; in RL too of course – after all we are the same people. It makes me sad when I hear that some people wouldn’t want to help others, or they keep their “secrets” to themselves. I mean, for me that’s an empty life. Yes you get to do what you love, and yes you might win a few contests, BUT if you don’t have someone to share that happiness, to share the experiences, what’s the point? We are social people, and since the beginning, knowledge was shared with others, to make it last and to make us stronger. So why not help new models? Why not revel your secrets on how you do this or that? I have planned another tutorials and will do whenever time permits.
SM: Being a mentor yourself, is there anyone you look up to, or is your “go to” person for advice?
LM: Well there are a lot of models I admire, like Anna [Sapphire], Wicca [Merlin], Miaa [Rebane], Veronica [Krasner], Rhonda [Pennell], and many more! But when it comes to asking for advice I always end up bothering Anna! LOL, poor thing! That would be in SL. In RL, well, l I love a lot of designers and I’m always looking at the latest releases, latest runway collections.
SM: My last question has to do with advancement. In order for anyone to be successful, they must keep evolving… where do you see yourself 6 months from now?
LM: Well, we have restarted with Anna’s project I had kind of in a hiatus, and that’s Asymetrique [modeling agency]. I hope that in six months, we will be really busy working for ASMT and of course continuing working for my dear agencies as a model, still learning new things, helping other models too, continue doing pics and having so much fun as I have been having so far!
For more information on this awesome lady, you can visit her website at LeahMccullough.net.