Portia Freno is an up and coming model from London. Despite working extremely hard developing acting, modeling and music careers simultaneously, we were delighted when Portia agreed to complete a full feature interview for Urbanity Chic. Read the full interview below to find out about her inspirations, her favourite photographers and her current career highlights.
Q: How did you get into fashion modeling?
I attended a casting that I knew I was too short for, but knew I was good enough for. Polaroids were taken of me, then I was called back a few days later. I had to keep strutting down a catwalk with about 50 other models, whilst the casting directors eliminated girls on the spot. I ended up in the final 8; the 8 models that were to fly to Africa to walk for Baby Phat. I was the only “short” girl out of them all and I felt a real sense of achievement.
Q: How was 2010 for you?
2010 saw me landing my first film and introducing myself to the world as an actress. I was also in New York working for 4 months. I played the leading lady in a music video for one of the singles from the soundtrack for American dance flick “Step Up 3D”, currently with about 6 million youtube views. 2010 was a good year.
Q: Who inspires you?
God, my mother and myself. Also, anyone who turns bad situations into good ones, overcomes obstacles and forever progresses as a person. My friends inspire me; we all inspire each other. Life in general inspires me; the more I live and the more experience gained, the more inspiration I get. It inspires me to know that anything is achievable, and that I am in control of my own destiny (as long as I stay connected with God)
Q: Do you prefer to shoot on location or in the studio?
Well that all depends! When it’s cold and miserable outside during a photo shoot I’m sure many models would say studio! I prefer location because I am an outside kinda person and love natural sets. I think you can tell more of a story with a location shoot. I love the great outdoors, and being outside can usually lead to more inspiration and more ideas coming as the shoot progresses .
Q: How do you prepare for a fashion shoot or show?
I tend to always be busy so rarely get the preparation time I desire before a shoot. However practicing poses, avoiding carbs, having a steam to ensure glowing, clear skin and getting plenty of sleep is always a good idea. If for any reason I’m nervous about a shoot, I like to take 10 minutes out with some nice music to sit down, pray for a good shoot and simply calm my nerves with a hot drink.
Q: Do you have a favourite photograph?
I actually do but I am waiting for it to be printed before I can share it with you. Perhaps I can share it with you another time. It is a favourite because my hair is wild and afro, and I rarely shoot with my hair in that way. My second favourite is a location shoot I did with Melissa De Blok. It wasn’t for submission or a publication; we met online and decided to work together. Melissa is an amazing photographer and since our shoot together has vastly improved. She is forever progressing and just gets better and better by the minute. So it was a pleasure to work with her and experiment during her earlier stages. Some amazing shots came out of our test shoot together.
Q: Who is your favourite photographer?
Melissa De Blok is definitely one of my faves for a few reasons; She is young and inspiring and every image tells a story. She doesn’t over airbrush or edit, preferring to keep her images natural and truly capture the models character. Her black and whites are to die for.
Another favourite of mine is Squiz Hamilton. I’ve watched Squiz develop his skills and really grow as a photographer. He really studies the art of photography and his images are unique; you know it is Squiz immediately upon seeing the photo. His pics are really interesting and sometimes I find myself studying them for ages! I admire Squiz a lot because he really grew as a photographer, and quite quickly, mastering his skills and alway switching up the concepts.
I haven’t mentioned the obvious, renowned fashion photographers because I am all about showcasing and embracing up and coming talent.
Q: Is there anybody you would like to work with?
I would love to shoot a campaign for Giuseppe Zanotti. I feel I completely personify the type of woman he caters to. Walking for Ellie Saab would be amazing. I think it would be great to work for Victoria’s Secret as well. I would also love to shoot with Tyra Banks, with her being the photographer. I feel it would be a lot of fun but also very knowledgeable. And I have a passion for lip glosses, and the lips to sell them, so working with make up brands such as Maybelline, promoting a hot juicy lip gloss would be perfect.
Q: What does fashion mean to you?
The same way music is what feelings feel like, fashion is what feelings look like. How I dress is dependent on how I feel and what message I want to send out that day. Fashion is a chance to experiment and make statements. It is a chance to stand out from the crowd and express individuality. Some people think fashion is just following trends, but it is taking those trends and making them your own.
Q: How would you define your personal style?
On some days… Classy, demure, but sexy and on other days fun, vibrant and playful.
Q: What’s been the highlight of your career to date?
I couldn’t pick one; there have been many. Maybe being part of a film that went to no.1 in the UK cinemas. Perhaps being the first European model to get a 10 page spread in SHOW magazine. Being part of the opening ceremony and walking the red carpet for Africa Rising, including Tyson Beckford and Naomi Campbell. Or maybe presenting an award at the AMA’s. Work has taken me to many places; Africa, America, Asia. So travelling has been a huge career highlight also.
Q: What are you hoping to achieve in 2011?
The rest of 2011 will see me working on my music. I also hope to land another big film.
Q: What do you do to relax?
Play music. Music is everything and so influential. Whether I am celebrating or upset, I turn to music. Also, burning incense, praying, reading and massages all help me to relax.
Q: What songs are on your ipod at the moment?
Everything from Kurt Cobain to Minnie Riperton. My collection includes House, Soul, Hip Hop, RnB, Rock, Reggae, World music….. the list is endless. I have the best collection in town 🙂
Q: Do you have interesting hobbies?
My biggest hobby is writing. To me that is very interesting. I could write all day, everyday, about pretty much anything.
Q: If you could give a little piece of advice for new models or aspiring models what would it be?
Spend time doing test shoots to ensure you have a wide range of images in your book. You want to showcase your versatility so that you do not limit yourself when it comes to booking jobs. Learn about all aspects of modeling; photography, lighting etc. This way you have an advantage when shooting and will know what works in front of the camera, which saves wasting frames. Don’t be put off if you do not get a job; you can’t be right for everything. Know what works for you and go for that, do not try to be something you are not. Always take the time to know who you are as a person and learn how to present yourself; it is your personality that will come across in the photos.
Q: What motivates you to do what you do?
The fact that I enjoy it.
Q: Is there anything else you’d like to let our readers know about you?
I keep up a blog that covers everything from fashion and photography to beauty tips and my personal diary. You can subscribe for free via email http://iamportiafreno.com.
Editor’s Note: Portia has an incredibly versatile and commercial look that we’re sure will lend itself to continued success in the fashion industry. Also, we’re looking forward to listening to more of Portia’s musical tracks in the future too!
If you’d like to contact or see more of Portia’s portfolio of work follow the links below:
twitter link: http://twitter.com/portiafreno
web page link: http://iamportiafreno.com