Marissa Surmenkow, Global Director Of Elite Model Look

Industry EML International

We are thrilled to introduce Marissa Surmenkow, the brand new Global Director of EML. Previously North American Scout at Women Management New York, Marissa will be overseeing the contest all over the world. We sat down with her to ask how she got into the industry, what she looks for in candidates and exciting plans for this year’s top model and digital creator contest.

What are you looking forward to about being Global Director of EML?

I am looking forward to working with such an esteemed group of agencies and agents; paving way for a new generation of models and influencers. Utilizing this legendary platform to create not only the most recognizable faces on the runway but strong business minded individuals who can form opportunity for themselves through this world of fashion and entertainment.

What do you look for in the applicants at the castings?

We are looking not just for how a candidate looks in photographs but personality plays a huge part in our decision making process.  In today's market, it is not enough to be just a beautiful face - clients are seeking so much more from models and influencers.  We want to find individuals that can inspire, motivate and share with the world that true beauty comes from within.  

You studied Fashion Merchandising – what did it teach you and how has it helped in your role?

Studying fashion merchandising was a catalyst to my appreciation for the world of fashion and fashion photography.  For a scout or model manager; you have to rely on your knowledge of this history as our business is extremely visual and at the same time very nostalgic.  We have to trust our eye to see beauty in a way that might not always be obvious and translate that for our clients to see. 

How did you get started in the model industry?

I started in the industry as an intern in my hometown of Chicago for Elite.  I was fascinated by the business and now 15 years later, I am extremely grateful to be able to doing something I love each and every day.

What are your favourite parts of the job?

Some of the most exciting parts of my job include travel, meeting so many incredible people and giving young adults the opportunity to build a business for themselves, which if managed properly - can lend to a very long lasting career.

Who are you most proud of scouting in your career?

I don't like to name names but there are definitely a few standouts! Seeing now supermodels who I remember at 13, 14, 15 years old and seeing how they flourish as strong businesswomen is really inspiring to me.  

What do people ask you most often about your job?

If I love it - and the answer is YES! I couldn't see myself doing anything else.

Do you have any interesting hobbies or side-hustles outside work?

Since a child I studied dance; so in my down time I love to take advantage of all the incredible class NYC has to offer, as well as spending time with friends and family. Anytime I can sneak in a little beach get-away, I am a happy girl!

What is your advice to anyone applying to Elite Model Look this year?

Be yourself, show us your personality and don't get discouraged.  It takes time to find your right path in this business - no doesn't always mean never, sometimes it just means not right now.  

If you didn’t do what you do now, what would be your dream job?!

I would say if I wasn't in this industry, perhaps I would like to be an event planner or own a flower shop - working with flowers was my very first job as a teenager.

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