Women In Fashion: Lisa Benson, Senior Manager At IMG Models
Behind every good model, there’s a good manager. As Senior Manager at IMG Models, Lisa represents some of the top names in the industry like Chanel Iman and Lily Aldridge. Check out our interview with Lisa below, as well as our new issue, available HERE!
What made you want to become a model manager?
It is funny because I didn’t know that I actually wanted to be a model agent. I didn’t even know they existed to be honest. I studied finance and international business at Penn State, but I was always interested in fashion since I was a little girl. I always read every magazine from cover to end and LOVED models! At that time, all magazine covers were still models and I was so interested in everything they were doing.. wearing/dating/reading/eating etc. My prom dress one year was a knock off of a dress Shalom Harlow wore on the cover of Vogue. I moved to NYC after graduation from PSU and was introduced to IMG. I only knew of IMG as a sports agency but quickly learned that they were the leader in the modeling and fashion industry. I interviewed with Ivan Bart, SR VP and Managing Director of IMG Models, and could not wait to land the job as receptionist since that was the only position available. I just wanted my foot in the door to begin learning. I got the job and learned so much in 6 months starting in that position about models/ photographers/behind the scenes and became even more fascinated by models and their managers. I then was promoted to Ivan Bart’s assistant and it was his vision, enthusiasm, spirit, and inspiration towards the fashion & modeling world that made me want to become a model manager. He is a legend in the industry and I could not be more proud to have him as a mentor. It was his constant energy to keep the supermodel alive then and now.
How do you know if a model has “It”?
For me, I love models that I can relate to. I like to hear their voices and opinions. I LOVE personality! I feel the fashion industry is embracing this as of recent which is exciting for me. In addition, there is nothing more gorgeous than when a model has confidence. When a model walks into IMG with clear expectations, goals, and aspiration to take modeling as a serious job, then I know they will be successful with our guidance and expertise. I also find it important to stay hungry to succeed, but being humble during the process. Some role models that do this perfectly are Lily Aldridge, Chanel Iman, Kate Upton, Chrissy Teigen, Elsa Hosk, to name a few. I truly admire all of my clients. They are at the top of their game and take this business very seriously but are extremely gracious to everyone around them. It is a key to success in any industry.
Who is your favorite model of all time?
There are too many models that I have admired to consider one my favorite. But again, I go back to the old school supermodels with personalities and confidence! Seymour, Turlington, Naomi, Taylor, Brinkley, Hansen, Naomi to name a few. My current client roster, I think are very comparable to these… modern day supermodels so to speak! And I have ALWAYS admired Marilyn Monroe… since I was probably 10 years old. She is not a typical model in the traditional sense but I think she exemplifies so much such as confidence, humor, personality and embracing the body she was given… and not taking everything TOO seriously!
Who is your favorite photographer of all time?
Early on in my career I admired so many photographers from the past and present, but recently I’ve been fortunate enough to work with living legends such as Annie Leibovitz, Steven Meisel, Mario Testino, and Peter Lindbergh — It has been an honor to be able to experience their work first hand. You see how hard they work and seeing their final product is incredible. Richard Avedon and Bert Stern I have always loved as well. Photographers that capture true women where their personalities can show through the images are my favorite.
You got Kate Upton on the cover of American Vogue! It was a triumph for all women. Any advice to other bombshells wanting to get into modeling?
The most important thing is to be confident and believe in yourself. Set goals and be realistic with them based on your natural qualities that have been given to you. Never take No as an answer nor boundaries that may be blocking you from your dream.. If you believe in something, go after it and think outside of the box. IMG is known for breaking new grounds in many ways.