Dozens of Black models excited to audition for Miami Swim Week were turned away on last Friday. The group created a stream of Instagram videos accusing casting directors of racist notions.
Model Joia Talbott spoke out about the blatant racism that still exists in the fashion industry. The 29-year-old said she and other Black models were in Miami, Florida to audition for “Kya Swim”. She rocked her Afro but the casting director immediately said that “Afros were a no-no.” She said the board went “above and beyond to let [models of color] know we were not welcome.”
Kate Citrone, a friend of Talbott, told Fashion Week Online that all the Black models were “turned away from this casting.” She questioned if it was “for our skin tone or because we genuinely ‘didn’t fit the look’ the designer was looking for.”
Talbott added that the casting director broadcasted to models (predominantly Black) waiting in line that the “castings closed.” However, the moment that Black models began leaving, auditions opened back up.
“Upon leaving, I noticed the designer still accepting models of a fairer skin type at the door, bringing them upstairs,” Citrone added.
Talbott said racism is big in the fashion industry and they’re accustomed to being told no. “We get told no every day.” However, the experience in Miami “was completely disrespectful.”
The 29-year-old model shared the incident on her Instagram and wrote, “I was told today that I basically was no match for Miami Swim Week. That I didn’t “fit” the criteria and my pictures were no good. Let me move my bang to the side so I can look you in your eye when I prove you wrong. Doubt fuels my fire!🔥”
The Black models who were all dismissed bonded over their racist experience and posed for a photo together. “In that moment they made us feel that we weren’t anything at all,” Talbott said. They proved “that there’s no such thing as too much brown skin… We’re in this together.”
A representative of the swimwear company “Kya Swim” stated to the New York Post, “Everyone at Kya Swim is deeply disturbed by the allegations brought by Joia Talbott and other models about the casting event at Miami Swim Week. Kya Swim is proud of its record of diversity and we are in the midst of looking into the events of last Thursday to review the actions of the production company in charge of the casting call.”
Talbott refuted the company’s diversity claim and said, “You have one Black model [so] you can say that you had one.”