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Navigating the Glamorous yet Gritty World of Model Scouting: Lisa Phillips Shares Insider Insights

Every year, people with big dreams flock to the sunny streets of Los Angeles to try and make those dreams happen. Actors, singers, dancers, and models seek out opportunities in the City of Angels, looking for their own benevolent angel to pluck them from obscurity and recognize their talent. 

Lisa Phillips is one of those angels to many in the modeling industry. As a modeling scout, Phillips is used to changing lives. “I mean, what can be better than being discovered at a Taylor Swift concert and then walking for Calvin Klein two months later?” Phillips says. While moments like those may seem like one-in-a-million occurrences, they are all in a day’s work for Phillips. 

From model to mentor

As a former international fashion model, Phillips has had an insider’s look at what it takes to walk the big runways and land high-profile jobs. Now, she revels in a job that allows her to give others that opportunity.

“I like opening people’s minds to the idea that ‘Anything is possible,’” Phillips explains. I know I’m going to change this young person’s life, and that empowers me.” 

As a fashion model, Phillips traveled the world, starred in over 70 commercials from South Africa to Turkey, and was regularly surrounded by creatives who inspired her. Starting her career with Ford Models in the early 2000s, Phillips knew even then that she wanted to become a scout someday. “I told Eileen Ford in her office that I was going to be the best model scout in the industry someday,” Phillips chuckles, remembering how excited she was. She told me never to compromise my integrity — and I haven’t.”

Part of that pledge has included supporting women in the entertainment industry through the #MeToo movement and headline-making abuse cases, such as the Jeffrey Epstein and Harvey Weinstein cases. Phillips feels she has a duty to stand against the rampant abuse that can permeate the modeling industry.

“I want to foster a safer, more supportive environment for women in the industry,” Phillips says. This desire to make dreams happen and mentor budding voices has led to high-profile advocacy work and outreach in hopes of helping create a kinder, gentler entertainment modeling industry for the next generation. 

Respect and rewards

Phillips feels that her career has come full circle now that she is a scout in LA. After running her own scouting and placement agency in New York for eight years, Phillips is happy to be closer to the ocean and working for an agency with a well-known global presence like Select Models. “Today, I send models all around the world — to the places I once modeled — like Greece, London, Capetown, and Paris. I adore this business that has been really good to me!”

The business has taught Phillips essential lessons as well. Besides keeping her integrity intact, as Eileen Ford suggested, Phillips is focused on treating everyone she comes across in the industry with kindness and respect. “Don’t burn any bridges,” she advises. Phillips also knows that relationships are the bedrock of her success. “In this industry, people hire those they know and trust. They hire friends. Building those bridges strong will ensure you will have a long, successful career,” Phillips shares.

Phillips keeps her keen eye trained to find talent who are not only beautiful but smart and innovative. “You have to stand out to be successful; you can’t just be a pretty face,” she shares. Today’s modeling industry feels well-removed from the industry of even twenty years ago when Phillips was just getting her feet wet on international catwalks. Today, there is a greater focus on diversity, different genders, a range of body types, inclusivity, and more self-expression. It is a new world that Phillips is happy to be a part of helping build. “I like helping people find out who they are because that is how you can be successful. That’s where the authenticity is,” says Phillips.

Phillips has been working hard to further establish her presence in the modeling and advocacy world, spending time creating a Coaching Program for Aspiring models. Her current eCourse is called #Getsigned Model Mastery for hopeful models. She is also a public speaker, speaking out against abuse and mistreatment that can often befall models, especially young women who are just getting started and hoping for their “big break.” All of her work has been the culmination of years in an industry that can be very tough but also very rewarding.

In the near future, Phillips will release a podcast chronicling the stories of survivors in the entertainment industry, focusing on their resilience and their stories of courage and empowerment. Through all of her work, she is focused on making dreams come true in the City of Angels. “A fashion model’s career is special. I know this from experience,” she says. “They really can have it all! I feel like My story is special because it’s come full circle.”

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