Category: GEMA, GEMA Alumni Spotlight

Title:GEMA Alumni Spotlight – Anna Kleinsorge (B’03), Plus-Size Model and Producer at LA Models

Anna Kleinsorge is one of the leading west coast plus-size models today, having worked for countless clients such as Macy’s, Bloomingdales, Old Navy, TJmaxx/Marshalls, Forever21 and seen in the pages of Marie Claire and Figure. Anna can also be recognized from her time on FOX television’s “More to Love” and a number of national and international commercials. An advocate for healthy body image, Anna recently stepped into the role of producer, promoting body diversity with the film FORMÉ used to launch LAmodels’ new plus-size division, LAm2 – plus+.

What was your first “big break”? Or, what is the most significant experience you have had that has made your success possible?
The most significant experience I’ve had probably came when I signed with my first agent. She had just taken the position after working for one of the biggest PR firms in Hollywood and was both brutally honest and oddly supportive all at the same time. I went in to meet with her, performed a couple of monologues and after a long pause she said, “You have a really pretty face, but you’re too big. I don’t know what I’m going to do with you – I’ll give you a try… we’ll see what happens.” It was pretty harsh coming from someone I had just met 10 minutes before, but all I wanted was a “try” so I took it and ran – straight out the front door, before she could change her mind! In the next couple months I was sent out on the occasional audition and then my phone rang. It was my agent. She said she had seen a commercial with a whole bunch of ‘real looking’ women and she knew what to do with me.

The following week I was sent to do a test shoot with an amazing photographer and stylist who happened to work with plus-models. The concept of modeling was completely foreign to me, after all weren’t models are supposed to be gaunt Kate Moss types not those of us in the “too big” category? But having just come out of drama school, I approached it as a character exercise and before I knew it the day had flown by. As we were wrapping up the photographer called me over to show me some of the shots. I was shocked, the woman in the photos looked nothing like the person I was used to seeing in my friend’s candid Polaroid’s. We had done 5 looks that day and not one image seemed to be the same. The photographer asked if I had a print agent and if it would be ok to pass some of the images along to FORD, as she worked with a lot of their girls. Before I knew it, I had become a model.

It wasn’t so much the act of getting an agent as the experience it provided and path it lead me down that made it a significant point in my career. It taught me that being open to different routes in reaching a goal is often infinitely better than trying to control how you reach it. That opportunity, when embraced often presents additional gains and working with people who have an understanding of your goals and direction usually makes these opportunities easier to seize. It also showed me that people don’t always know what they are looking at but perseverance eventually does pay off. All the hard work in the world will only get you half-way if you don’t see the assets you are naturally blessed with, and use them. I don’t think that an experience goes by without it having some impact on me, but entering the world of modeling taught me so many lessons that the experience still has great effect on how I approach my career in both business and as talent.

What is the most challenging part of your job? What is the most rewarding part?
The most challenging and rewarding element is working to expand emerging industry standards. Within the modeling world specifically, there is a pressure to maintain certain sizes. If you lose or gain too much weight and your size changes, often you lose your client base. If you fall in a size category that isn’t working as much, there is a lot of pressure from within the industry to gain or lose weight to get to a size that does work.

Only in the last couple years has “plus-size” become more of a mainstream concept, with the gradual increase of focus on body diversity. Being in the early stages of public identification there are only a couple of forms/images commonly associated with “plus size”. Hopefully these initial associations can be broadened to a point where they outgrow the secondary labeling and are merely extensions of basic sizing. Advocating a broader view of what clients deem my “category” to be, as well as what people can identify with in media is both the challenge and reward that keeps me working in entertainment.

What is a current project you are working on that you are excited about?
I just signed on to a documentary project centered around the medical procedures in America available to remedy obesity and how the role of advertising is used in marketing such procedures. It should be about a five-year project, but the subject matter is one that has had an immediate impact on a number of people I know. It is something I think not only prevalent in today’s media driven society but also informative and enlightening for those considering such procedures.

Are there any ways that you feel Georgetown especially prepared you for your career?
Absolutely. Georgetown definitely gave me a strong business foundation that lends itself to both my career in front and behind the camera. As a model, I am able to collaborate more readily with clients. Knowing what they want from a business perspective gives me a better idea of what my clients are looking for, what they are trying to say and how I fit into their picture. As I develop more projects on the production end, my marketing and advertising (my majors at Georgetown) base helps me identify the message I want to convey, variations in how to get ideas across and who, demographically my projects are pertinent to.

What is your best advice to those who are starting out in your field?
Test, test, test! If you want to work in fashion – model, stylist, mua, art director – practice makes perfect. Work with everyone, especially those who are better than you – they will make you better. Fashion is always changing, evolving… if you want to be a part of it you had better be prepared to change and evolve as well. Know what you want to achieve, be open to every opportunity and learn from your mistakes. Work is just the practice you get paid for, so hold yourself to the highest standard.

How is the digital world affecting your industry? How are you approaching this transformational change?
I think the better question may be, ‘How is the digital world NOT affecting your industry’? Almost everything seems to have a digital component associated with it these days and it is a prevalent aspect in both producing and interpreting work.

The accessibility and exposure provided by the Internet is a great training ground for those aspiring to be in the industry as well as a diversifying medium for working professionals. People are able to explore different areas of entertainment on a smaller scale than if they were to follow a more traditional route of say school or working on a client-based project. It is an easy way to network and collaborate with others pursuing similar goals and gives you the freedom to hone specific areas of interest with instant feedback on your work, which is awesome and absolutely invaluable.

On the flipside however, advancing technology makes it easier to manipulate the visual medium we work in and the lines between fantasy and reality can easily be blurred. As a model, I am constantly aware that I have no control over my final images so I actively strive to be a part of projects that work against idealized stereotypes and perpetuate my own ideals of beauty such as diversity, confidence, health and of course, humor.

Best Business Advice Received:
Some jobs you take because you want to and some jobs you take because you have to.

Trait(s) You Most Admire in People:
Honesty, perseverance, humor.

Favorite iPhone/iPad/Blackberry/Android App:
AroundMe. I travel a lot and am pretty low maintenance, but for the basics you can find almost anything, anywhere!

Favorite Georgetown Professor:
Patricia Derrek & Otto Hentz

Favorite Georgetown Restaurant or Bar:
Champs… although I think it may have shut down and J.Paul, Clyde’s or Filomena for restaurants. They all hold good memories.

Favorite Georgetown Memory:
Running the loop right after the first snow.