Olivia Jo wears a vintage bodysuit by Jean Paul Gaultier for LaPerla, her own jewelry, and shoes made from wildflowers, wool, and paper by Shavana Smiley

Take a look at the new faces of beauty

Beauty is a fickle creature, constantly shifting and forever changing. Historically, this has happened at the whim of a few people at the top of the beauty and fashion world, but lately, there seems to be a change in the air. A new crop of independent model agencies, casting directors, and agents are now changing the landscape of what beauty looks like and it’s creating a ripple effect that has been felt across the landscape of the industry.  Submission Beauty explores what’s going on with casting agent Joseph Charles Viola

INTERVIEW + STYLIST JESPER GUDBERGSEN @yessirjesper using only vintage and sustainable designers.
HAIR JESS DYLAN @thewholearthcatalogue
MODELS ANNABELLE @agw1111 , HECTOR @aveghanistan, JADE @jade.gord, LILLIE @lillierad, MALIK @kilamford, MAR @martrimony OLIVIA JO @theeoliviajo, WENHAO @wenhao2hu

A word from Joseph Charles Viola – Mother Agent 

I didn’t anticipate that things would pop off for me during a pandemic. I thought there would be a lot more hindrance involved in starting my own agency during a time like this, so I am very grateful. I was always very fascinated, watching people get cast not due to their talent but because of their look. In my acting days, I also experienced not getting the roles I was auditioning for due to my appearance. Once I began pursuing my career as a casting agent, it became clear to me that I needed to do things my way. I wanted to nurture the talent, be a cool mom for them, and hear them out. 

It’s so important for us to communicate to create the best environment. I really do love my kids, I love knowing everything about them. For me, it’s a long-term investment in their personhood more than it is about making a quick buck off a couple of seasons of shows. It’s about the person and the gifts they offer. I don’t care if it takes a month or three years to get them ready, if I see the validity behind the person and I find the beauty in them, I know someone else will eventually see it as well.

Mar wears a coat and bra top by Private Policy and her own skirt and jewelry

MAR CHAN, 27, She/Her, actress/musician 

What changes are you hoping to see in the beauty and fashion industry?

I would love to see the fashion industry take accountability for labor abuses and climate abuse. Too often it’s small, independent designers who are committed to sustainability and ethical practices. We need large corporations, and luxury brands to do more. 

What does beauty mean to you?

Beauty to me means health. It starts from the inside— beauty comes down to your mental health, physical health, emotional, and spiritual. When you feel beautiful on a holistic level, that’s when you will actually radiate the essence of beauty; as opposed to wearing beauty or consuming beauty.

Hector wears a vintage t-shirt by Greenpeace and earrings by AGMES

HECTOR, 20, He/Him, Student learning trade of Auto Technician

What do you think makes you new face to watch?

I was born in Brooklyn and raised in the projects of Lower East Side of Manhattan. The culture in these parts of the neighborhood can be quite conservative on the ideas of masculinity, beauty, and self-expression through clothing. However, due to the proximity of different neighborhoods in downtown Manhattan: Soho, Chinatown, and the East Village, their cultures definitely have seeped into the greater identity of the Lower East Side. Coming from this neighborhood, I wasn’t easily influenced by the closed-minded thinking of the majority of the people in my community. I’ve learned to embrace what could be considered outlandish styles, pushing boundaries instead of conforming to the norm of the neighborhood. Even so, I still have much love and represent this neighborhood to my full extent. I love to express myself with my hair which I’ve been growing for 2 years now, and I constantly experiment with it on a weekly basis. From braids to dreads to buzzcuts and just letting it all hang loose sometimes, I feel as if I can change my whole physical appearance depending on what kind of style hair I have. Clothing is another thing, although I’m pushing boundaries my community has embraced me and I’m known around the neighborhood as just a fashionable fly kid.

What does beauty mean to you?

Beauty is a man-made construct of ideas that stimulate the brain essentially, and beauty is in the eye of the beholder or whatever people say. To me, however, beauty is something that evokes really strong emotions. I took a family trip to Southeast Asia back in 2018. I went to see family in Hong Kong, Japan, South Korea, and the Philippines. Specifically, my time spent in the Philippines is where I want to focus this story. I stood there for about a full month staying with family that lived in the slums of the capital of Manila, in the jungles in makeshift houses around the islands of Palawan, Negros, and Bantayan. Even coming from the projects of NYC I knew that their quality of life was less than mine. My family there had limited access to electricity, wifi, and even running water and plumbing. But I can tell you that these people were not unhappy or dissatisfied with their lives. Family and friends are all you need to have a good time and a good life. Regardless if living standards are not up to par with Western / first world ideals, that does not determine if your life is a good one or not. They were surrounded by so much nature that I’ve never seen in my life, all I know are skyscrapers and paved roads. These people were connected with the environment and their family and friends. A more naturalistic way of life is what I find beautiful. Friends and family helping each other through hardships are what I find beautiful. Being able to find happiness when the world around you deems you not exceptional, a 3rd world poverty-stricken country, that is what I find beautiful.

Olivia Jo wears a vintage bodysuit by Jean Paul Gaultier for LaPerla and her own jewelry

OLIVIA, 23, She/Her, Hairstylist/Model

What do you think is lacking in the beauty and fashion industry – and how do you think we can improve this?

What I think both the beauty and fashion industry are lacking right now is actually something that I’ve been starting to see happen and hope to see more of: black queer people and trans women specifically be in positions as storytellers and not just muses. There are so many trends in beauty & fashion from now and spanning decades back that have trickled down from black queer culture, and while it’s always great to be used as a reference it’s even better to put people in the positions with the resources needed to tell these stories from a new perspective. 

What does beauty mean to you? 

Beauty to me is what you feel when you feel at your most happy and confident no matter what flaws you may have.

Annabelle wears a bodysuit by Friskmegood, a vintage top and shorts and her own socks

ANNABELLE, 26, She/They, eldercare worker/artist

What change are you hoping to see in the beauty and fashion industry?

I would like to see more inclusivity and sustainability in beauty and fashion

What does beauty mean to you?

To me beauty is art! It is inherent in us the way it is in nature, it is a celebration.

Jade wears full look by Saint Sintra

JADE, 24, She/Her, model (currently)

What do you think makes you a new face to watch? 

I think I am a new face to watch because I represent a group of people the fashion industry has always been against. Modern fashion has never been geared toward fat people, fat black femmes at that. Fortunately, there’s been a relatively new wave of plus-size/fat girls taking over and I’m so lucky to be a part of that push. I believe I’m a new face to watch because I can stand outside of commercial stigma which my mother agent, Joe, has always been adamant about. I can be and do whatever I want when it comes to modeling and I don’t want people to ever forget that. Fat women (emphasis on fat, not just plus size) aren’t just here to stand and sell clothes, we can be high-end and couture too. 

What does beauty mean to you? 

Defining what’s beautiful in itself is honestly so difficult, as it’s many different things to very many different people. I think as cliché as it sounds, confidence is a major part of what I find beautiful. There’s a certain power in feeling extremely confident when you walk into a room; everyone turns around to stare and wonder who you are. Not that I necessarily think beauty is defined by the attention you can draw but there’s something immediately alluring and mysterious when someone instantly commands a room. I also think there’s beauty in allowing yourself to be vulnerable and emotional especially with others and vice versa. Overall I believe personal beauty is truly about uplifting yourself (not at the expense of anyone else) while accepting the flaws you hold and knowing they make you who you are.

Wenhao wears a vintage tank top

WENHAO, 24, He/Him, illustrator and ceramicist

What change are you hoping to see in the beauty and fashion industry? 

I would like to see sustainability become more accessible, and become the easier option for a wider audience in the fashion and beauty industry. 

What does beauty mean to you?

To me, beauty is acceptance and appreciation.

Lillie wears full look by PRISCAvera, her own jewelry and an earring by AGMES

LILLIE, 20, She/Her, model / actress /student 

What do you think is lacking in the beauty and fashion industry – and how do you think we can improve this?

I think what is truly missing from the fashion industry is freedom from the fear of looking “dumb.” I believe most people put a lot of pressure on their work in this industry regarding what is necessarily acceptable or consumable. Although, I don’t believe something needs to be popular or trendy to be beautiful. Things such as trends come and go, so there’s no point in fitting into a certain standard. What strikes me as beautiful is something raw and authentic.

What does beauty mean to you? 

Beauty isn’t a contrived thing to me, it’s more of a gut feeling. Usually, it has some sort of connection with the earth or our natural state of existence. Culture and life experience both play into true beauty as well.

Malik wears his own clothes and a necklace by AGMES

MALIK, 20, He/Him, student

What do you think makes you a new face to watch?

I’m a new face to watch because I’m interested in all aspects of fashion and beauty, ready to absorb all that I can.

What does beauty mean to you?

Beauty, to me, is about how much something adheres to the mind. Whether it’s an image, a sentence, or a sound, the more beautiful, the more it appears in and clings to your mind.