The Runway Diva Says. . . Is an online advice column for aspiring models. As a 20 year veteran of the fashion industry as a plus sized model, I have found in my travels that most aspiring models, no matter their size, don't have a clue of the tools needed to become a successful model. Hopefully, I can help make their journey a little easier. Please Email me your questions to

Friday, November 25, 2005

Plus Sized Sorority

Dear Ms. Quinn,

My name is Elizabeth and I am 29 years old. I live in Queens NY and have been full figured all of my life. I am 5'7 and a size 16 and in the past have felt the need to justify myself to the world (not now). Being Puerto Rican and Ethiopian my looks are different and people have always told me how beautiful I am. I can't count how many times I have heard how much more beautiful I would be if I lost a little weight. In college, I learned to embrace and love who I am. I modeled in our Black Women's Weekend fashion show (I was one of two Plus sized models). I also helped to start a sorority that embraces our differences, We are known as the D.I.V.A.S. of Lambda Fe Uson. (our web site is , please look at our founders page, almost all of us are fabulously plus sized). I saw you on Mo'Nique's Fat Chance and my mother and I thought you were fierce and blew away the competition. I am a firm believer that big ladies can be sexy and fit at sizes 14 and over. Knowing this, I would like to try to become a plus sized model. I can walk and I do have the look for it, although I may be a little short for runway. Currently, I am a paralegal. One the side, I advise my sorority and am in training to compete in triathalons next year. Ms. Quinn, I want to share myself with the world and encourage young women. Is there a way to meet you or can you direct me to someone who can critique my look and tell me if I have what it takes to achieve this goal? I am not shy and will not breakdown or fall apart if it doesn't happen. I just want to be a part of this movement of women that are shattering stereotypes. I would so appreciate your advice.

Lastly, if you are available to speak in a program for my sorority, we would love to have you give your story on our SUNY StonyBrook campus. There are many young women on that campus that would benefit by hearing you speak. As I'm sure you know, eating disorders and self image issues are problems on college campuses.

In Unity, Faith and Strength,

Elizabeth S.


First let me say I loved your letter! It was just so positive and powerful..This is great work that you are doing...please continue to inspire and uplift our sisters. In answer to your question, do you have any pictures that you can email me of yourself? I wouldn't fret too much about being 5'7", It's not like someone is gonna pull out a measuring tape and measure your height (lol) you are right "under" the height "radar" by and inch and I say....who's gonna know that if you don't tell them???? Please send me some photos of yourself, I am sure I can point you in the right direction.

All of my bookings are handled by my manager, Shalon Scott. You can reach her at 973-280-3380 or email her at

I look forward to hearing from you!

Getting Started

Dear Runway Diva

hi my name is Michaela, sorry to bother you but I just wanted to ask you a question, I just wanted to know exactly who's your agency or how you got into the modeling network, I am an aspiring model (size 12) coming up and I am having trouble starting myself up, I would greatly appreciate any advice you have, you have great photos! Thanks

Hello Michaela

I apologize for the delay in responding to your questions. I am currently signed with the Goddess Division of The Model Service Agency (
in New York City. I believe they also have divisions for standard size models and men. I would suggest that you look them up, find out when they have their open calls for new models, take a few good photos of yourself (nothing too provocative and go easy on the make up...they want to see what YOU look like) and let them see you. There is no need to show up with a full portfolio, if an agency likes you....chances are they will have you shoot new pictures anyway. Some clear photos in natural lighting will do at this stage of the game. You should also think about trying to work in's easy and more importantly...Steady money...IF you have the right measurements.

Don't be disappointed if they don't sign you on the spot...there are quite a few agencies in New York....just move on to the next one. If you like you can ask them for suggestions on which direction you should continue in.

I hope this helps...please keep me abreast of your progress!

Good Luck!

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Who is The ORIGINAL Runway Diva!??

Miss Sharon Quinn also known as “The Original Runway Diva!” is a veteran of the fashion industry and a story in perseverance. Her career in modeling began in the 1980’s, when she got her first “official” tear sheet from BBW Magazine when she entered their Annual Cover Model Search. After the contest she made the rounds to the NYC agencies and was rejected by most of them, with each noting different things she needed to “fix” about herself, and telling her to then come back and see them again. She left one of the top agencies of that era with a contract in hand but never returned.

Ten years later she met Gwendolyn DeVoe, CEO of DeVoe Signature Events through a mutual friend and began doing local fashions shows with her. She became a show favorite and perfected a great deal of her signature “Walk” by doing a lot of club & runway shows with Ms. DeVoe’s organization. It was during one of these runway shows that she met New York City based designer Alexander Bruce and quickly became one of his favorite models. In 1995 Alex entered her into a local, but well known modeling competition in New Jersey and much to everyone’s (except Alex’s) surprise, she defeated over 50 standard sized models to become the first plus-sized winner in the 16 year history of that competition. She won a trip to Europe and she garnered a tremendous amount of local press from winning that title and one of the fruits that resulted from her labor was being selected as the first cover model for the premiere issue of BELLE Magazine. Having learned from her previous “Open Call” experiences of the eighties she decided to bypass the open calls and took all of her press clippings and photos and put together a press package and sent it out to all of the major agencies. She received positive responses from her efforts and decided to sign on with Susan Georget of Wilhelmina Models’ Ten-20 division. Sharon feels she has been blessed to have been working steadily since then. Her numerous works include ad campaigns for The Avenue, Nordstroms, Ashley Stewart and many others. She has been seen in national commercials for Weight Watchers and Just My Size. She has been a frequent visitor on the runways of ABC-TV’s “The View”.

On August 6, 2005 Sharon reawakened the world to the notion that “life begins after 40”, when at the age of 44 she became the 1st runner up on “Mo’Nique’s Fat Chance”, the first nationally televised plus-sized beauty competition/reality show and was the highest rated show in the history of the Oxygen Network. An astonishing 3.8 million tuned in to view the premiere and the repeat airings over the weekend. Who says big girls can’t be sexy?? Sharon’s perfect 10 score in the lingerie segment is one of the more memorable moments in the broadcast. At 6 feet tall and sporting a shaved head, she is now recognized where ever she goes.

These days Sharon divides her time between writing and recording songs for her solo debut as well as handling the role of National Producer for “Dangerous Curves…The Tour”, a traveling fashion tour for plus sized women. She has a talk show in the works and is also writing a book about her life in the fashion industry. The newly committed singer, model & actress is currently signed with Suma Management and she lives in New York City with her family.

“Surround yourself with positive people & positive things!”