When we discovered Sydney Ness, we knew immediately that she was someone we had to speak to. Lucky for us, while we were in L.A, we got the chance to meet her and spend the day with her. Having fallen into modelling with the help of some family friends, Sydney has been on quite a journey since then. Battling against the ‘modelling’ stereotype, Sydney is categorised as a plus-sized model. She embraces her body and loves herself for who she is – a concept that we are all about here at Taylor Magazine.
She’s an exceptional role model for any young woman – she’s doing something she loves, loving herself for who she is and is always striving to be the best she can possibly be. We spoke to Sydney more about her modelling journey, how she stays awake with such a busy schedule and the all-important advice she would give her 16-year-old self…
“What makes me feel awake and alive is waking up everyday knowing that I’ll be doing what I love.” – Sydney Ness
Taylor Magazine: Tell us a little bit about you and how you started modelling!
Sydney Ness: I’m originally from Wisconsin, from a town of around 3,000 people. I had some family friends who were both models and they mentioned that I should get into modelling because I’ve always been really tall. At first, my parents were really reluctant and didn’t want me to do it, but eventually I went to a few different agencies who got me to do a test and a local photographer took some photos.
Those pictures are hilarious – I’m sure I have them somewhere! I managed to persuade my Mum to take me down to Fort Chicago and there were around 40 people when I got there. They took some photos of everyone and then said, “If we don’t call your name, then try again in 6 months.” Then they said, “We only want to talk to one person today and that’s Sydney,” – my mum literally shouted out loud “WHAT?”
Taylor Magazine: So she wasn’t expecting that at all?
Sydney Ness: No, definitely not! They took a few more pictures, measurements and things and I came back down again for a second meeting with someone that was higher up. They offered me a junior plus-sized contract. At the time, I was around 15-years-old, so I was like, “What do you mean plus-sized?” They basically said either you can lose weight, or see what happens naturally with your body and explained that there was this new thing that was beginning to make an appearance called plus-sized.
I didn’t want to lose weight – I had always been into sport and had always been super healthy and granted, I was a little bigger than most, but I am also six foot tall. I didn’t think much of it and I just thought I would give it a go. I signed an exclusive contract with them for all of their agencies and then I went to my first casting with Boston Stores and started working through their e-commerce jobs and about a year later, I went to New York for a little bit.
I didn’t love it, but I liked the work there. I went back and forth to New York but took a break from the whole thing for a while – I went through a hard period of stress and I ended up losing a lot of weight and became a size four. Even then, I still wasn’t small enough to be a normal, straight-sized model.
Taylor Magazine: That sounds like a lot to go through when you’re at such a young age.
Sydney Ness: It was the year after high school that I lost a lot of weight – I just remember guys that originally wanted nothing to do with me suddenly saying things like, ‘You look great!’ That triggered this mind-set of me thinking that it was fine to lose more weight, because everyone thinks that I look better now. I had no idea and didn’t realise at that time how much I was sabotaging myself. I was so focused on what everyone else was thinking, when inside I was so miserable.
I ended up thinking about dropping even more weight to get into straight-sized modelling but I had been going to college and stopped going — I was working six jobs and kind of modelling at the same time. Out of nowhere, I had five different people mention this particular agency in L.A called Natural Models. So many people mentioned it to me, almost everyone that I crossed paths with. I came to L.A, loved it, and ended up signing with them. Everything has been so great ever since – it all happened at the right time with the right agency and they’ve given me so much support.
Taylor Magazine: When you’re stressed and overwhelmed, what do you do to overcome this?
Sydney Ness: At home, I love to go for a drive. In L.A you can’t really do that!
Taylor Magazine: Yeah, I can’t imagine driving in L.A being very relaxing!
Sydney Ness: I know, exactly! In L.A I love to be outside so on my days off because there are so many national parks around the area, I’ll just go to one of them. I love to be by myself with no phone and completely disconnect. It’s so nice. I also like to work-out and I used to run a lot – that was my de-stressing mechanism.
Taylor Magazine: How many times a week do you try and work out, or is it just as and when you can?
Sydney Ness: I try to aim for three or four times a week, even if that is just going to the gym and doing some body weight exercises for 20-30 minutes, then I’m happy with that!
Taylor Magazine: How do you manage all the travelling you do and the impact this has on your body and sleeping pattern? What’s the best way to get through it when you have busy weeks like this?
Sydney Ness: Coffee! No but seriously, I can honestly say that I whole-heartedly love what I do. I don’t want to do anything else with my life besides this. I feel like I definitely have a voice to speak to people who are going through really similar things and I feel like I can relate to a lot of people. Every day when I wake up and go to a casting, I am so happy which motivates me so much more. It’s not like before when I was working six jobs and living at home. I wasn’t having fun and I was miserable. If you go to work with that attitude, you’re never going to have a good time. Even though I’ve had four or five hours of sleep every night for the past couple of weeks, I don’t even feel that tired! What makes me feel awake and alive is waking up everyday knowing that I’ll be doing what I love.
“Follow your heart and do what you truly want, not what other people want for you.”
Taylor Magazine: What advice would you give to your 16-year-old self?
Sydney Ness: The best advice I would give my 16-year-old self is simply do what makes you happy!
Taylor Magazine: That’s good advice!
Sydney Ness: I’ve definitely become a lot wiser with age, but there are still some things I’ll look back on and think, “Okay, that didn’t turn out that great!” Now that I’m older, I make sure to surround myself with people that make me happy. I have the most amazing friends and the best agency ever, but often the fear of what everyone else thinks can hold you back, which I experienced for a really long time. Now, people still don’t understand what I do and don’t think it’s a real job but the people closest to me believe in me and that’s the main thing. Going back to the advice I would give my 16-year-old self, it would be to absolutely just follow your heart and do what you truly want, not what other people want for you.