What’s it like to be a model? Two South Yorkshire women got to find out in a once-in-a lifetime experience, stepping in front of the camera in very different circumstances...
She thought nothing of working in a man’s world during her time in the steelworks during World War Two.
Now Woman of Steel Edna Cotton has stepped into the world of modelling.... at the age of 92.
The sprightly pensioner from High Green was scouted by a model agency at Penistone Market and became the star of a TV commercial.
Edna was the cheeky shopper in the latest Aldi advert with a taste for orange juice, an eye for a bargain - and what went on in the skin-tight shorts of Usain Bolt and his fellow sprinters during the London 2012 Olympics.
“I had to talk about orange juice with bits in it, then remark on the bits you could see jiggling about on those runners,” chuckles Edna.
“I’ve made so many new friends and been reunited with lots of old ones because of that advert,” she says. “Everywhere I go people recognise me; I feel quite the celebrity. And I’ve had phone calls and letters from people I hadn’t seen in years.”
Edna, who worked for Parkgate Iron and Steel Co in the war and was part of The Star’s campaign to get the Women Of Steel official government recognition, had been on a day out at Penistone Market with her niece as a treat.
“I’d just come out of a respite home after breaking my arm,” she says. “I fancied a pair of shoes on one of the stalls and asked the lady standing by how much they were,” she remembers.
“We struck up a conversation, she turned out to be a model agency boss on the lookout for elderly ladies to audition for an Aldi advert and she took my photo. I never thought any more about it. I do like shopping at Aldi. But me, a model? I thought I was too old.”
But it turned out she was just what Kathy Holdsworth of the DK Model Agency at Chapeltown thought Aldi were looking for.
“We had been asked to find ladies over the age of 65 with lots of character,” says Kathy. “I had been street casting in areas around Sheffield, approaching unsuspecting old ladies and asking if they would like to be in a TV ad.
“I was astounded when Edna told me she was 92. She was a fantastic character and I invited her along to a filmed casting at our offices. She was thrilled because our building used to be owned by Newton Chambers and she used to work there in the Fifties.
“Amazingly, despite her never having done anything like it before, she turned out to be the best one from castings all over the UK, including a major search in London.
She had to go to London to film for two days, which I was a bit worried about, but I managed to book her and her niece a lovely limousine to travel in. She loved that and she was a real hit with Aldi.”
Edna got paid £170 and loved all the fuss. “I rode in a Mercedes and stayed in a lovely hotel. I felt like a celebrity,” she says.
“For the filming I wore my own clothes and they didn’t do my hair and make-up, though. They wanted me natural. It took a long time; I had to learn my lines and just as I’d got it right they changed them to the funny one about the sprinters and their shorts. But in the end they had to dub me because my voice wasn’t strong enough. It was my little chuckle at the end, though.”
The advert has been on TV, Facebook and Twitter, she says. “I’m a mini-celebrity now in High Green. I’d do it again if they asked me.”
DK Model Management has found work for thousands of stunning amateur and professional models since launching 12 years ago.
But it reports growing demand for the sort of people who you pass in the street without noticing.
“We do commercial photography as well as fashion and beauty work and many of these clients prefer to use ordinary people rather than established models,” explains Kathy Holdsworth, MD.
“They want people who aren’t models to take part in TV commercials and be photographed for magazine adverts, mail order catalogues, leaflets and websites.This means we need people of all ages.
“We find work for babies of three months right through to Edna at 92, who is currently the oldest person on our books. Older people can be the most difficult to find.”
The model world’s height rule also doesn’t apply for commercial work; in fact, rather than tall people being required, some TV commercials require male models who are 5’9” and under and female models who are under 5’6” right across the age ages, Kathy explains.
To apply, email to email@example.com, with your name, address and age plus some attached snapshots, or send your details and pictures by post to DK Model Management, Park Square, Thorncliffe Park Estate, Newton Chambers Road, Chapeltown, Sheffield, S35 2PH.
‘I was terrified but I was also amazed’
Angela Wheeler wanted a bigger picture on life.
She turned to a self-help book for inspiration - and now life has a bigger picture of her. In her undies.
From this week, a full-sized image of her will be splashed across Debenhams lingerie departments across the country,
The Upperthorpe 31-year-old got picked from thousands to fly the flag for “real women” and appear in lingerie brand Ultimo’s third fashion campaign.
Angela, who has suffered from Crohns Disease all her life and suffered huge losses in confidence about her body, was amazed - and terrified - when she found out she’d won..
“Crohns Disease is such a horrible thing to have and has massive effect mentally and physically. Sometimes everything is a daily battle,” she says.
But American boyfriend Tyrone gave Angela the confidence to overcome the condition and reach for her dreams.
“Tyrone has been so supportive of me. We’ve been together just under a year and in that time he’s given me back the confidence I’d lost after years of health problems which had seen my weight go up and down with steroid treatment,” she says.
Armed with her new-found confidence, Angela had decided to start changing her life.
“I’m saving for a mortgage and my life felt all work and no play. I wanted to broaden my experience somehow and bought a book called More to life than shoes which was about how people had set up their own businesses or been inspired to be brave and try new things.
“After reading the first few chapters I decided to join Twitter and follow people in business that interested me. One of them was Michelle Mone OBE, the founder of Ultimo. I saw her tweet about the competition and entered.
“I just thought I’d do something brave and out of my comfort zone, but never thought I’d be picked in a million years. Then three days later I won! My jaw literally hit the floor.
“I was absolutely terrified but at the same time amazed as 10,000 girls entered the last campaign.”
The 10 winners were taken to London for a celebrity-style fashion shoot with the Ultimo ‘glam team’ - a celebrity photographer, hair and make-up artists, a stylist and lighting experts.
Angela 31, a public sector account manager for IT sales at Highlander Direct, slipped into Simone bra and briefs from Ultimo’s exclusive Adore Moi collection for the shoot,
“I was so nervous, but all the girls had been bonding through Twitter and Facebook in the three weeks prior so I was also excited to finally meet them all.
My new friends gave me the confidence to strip down to my pants and see it through.
“The staff were all so professional and looked after us on the day. “It was an experience to see what models go through to get that picture taken and the work that goes on behind the scenes.
“The photographer, Dan Kennedy, has worked with a host of celebrities and he was amazing and really encouraged me as I stood, nearly naked, surrounded by strangers. It was a scary but liberating experience!”
Angela had never considered modelling. “I am a curvy girl and very short,” she says.“I think this campaign is so important in an age where every magazine has a new diet on one page, and slates celebrities in bikinis on the next for the slightest imperfection. Women in magazines are all very tall, very thin and angular.
“I have a 12-year-old niece and I’m very conscious that kids look for role models to perceive how they should look. At the end of the day, women do come in all shapes, sizes and ethnicities: we should have more diversity in models we see in magazines and on TV. I’m just an average girl, with average looks, and I’ve had an opportunity to play a part in that.
“I think I’m finally comfortable in my own skin. I believe the human body is a wonderful thing and I’m proud that my body sees me through good days and bad days.
“I try and eat well, exercise and look after what I was given and that just happens to have been noticed by Ultimo,” says the size 12.
“I was thrilled to be the only black model on this campaign and show off my unruly Afro hair, which for years I had chemically straightened to fit in with what I perceived to be in fashion or acceptable.
Now I look at people like Beyonce and Rihanna and think they are much more attractive than the size zero models on catwalks.”
Angela’s pictures will be splashed across Debenhams stores and appear in Celebs on Sunday magazine, which is read by over a million people weekly.
She’s preparing to face her billboard image in the flesh: “It’s terrifying to think everyone will be able to see what I look like in my undies, but a massive confidence boost that people will know that I’m a nobody yet a somebody. Somebody that entered to showcase another shape and look. Now it’s all over, Angela isn’t planning on a career in modelling: “I don’t think anyone would have me but if L’Oreal fancy the challenge of my Afro, then I’d welcome it with open arms,” she jokes. “I’d keep my clothes on, though!”