“Being a Disabled Model/Model of Diversity” (Article Submitted to “The Guardian”)

(I thought this was a pretty good piece of writing so I actually decided to put it in the “Article” section instead of my blog. The only difference between this and the other articles is that this is in interview format.
I’m a bit lazy when it comes to submitting things that may or may not be published :D, so I decided to copy paste everything I submitted into a blog post so that… IT IS IMMORTALIZED IN HISTORY!!! Just kidding, I would just hate to type out a massive story and then not have it used or have a way of getting it back, I like to say “waste not, want not” (just like the zombie lunchladies in “Captain Underpants” hahaha).

Name:

Answer: Saleem Juma

Age:

Answer: 23

Location:

Answer: Seattle, WA

How long have you been modeling for?

Answer: 5 years

What has been your experience in the modelling industry? (We are keen to hear from those who work in the industry, as well as models).

Answer: Well I can give you both views, from a perspective of someone without an Ostomy bag (because I started modeling when I was 18, before my original surgery). Plus my current perspective of having the Ostomy bag. Obviously having the Ostomy bag prevents me from doing certain shoots and scenes (like for example... underwear modeling would probably be off the table, though I would do it if asked; simply to fight the taboo of not showing our bags).
Since I'm also an actor I can't play scenes like a knight in the 14th century because how would we explain my pouch, or a swimwear shoot would be hard because again the point of modeling is to show the clients brand/fashion; when I don't get picked for these things it is understandable because it could be taking away from what they're trying portray.
HOWEVER, I whole hardheartedly believe in fighting the taboo of Ostomy bags being unattractive and not being talked about. I have done shirtless shoots after my surgery but they were typically done for medical companies where it made sense. I would like to get Ostomates out there modeling swimwear with their bags showing, while it may be coming away from the norm it would also empower EVERYONE who had scars and felt unattractive to feel ok going out to the beach in swim trunks/bikinis; which they should #bodypositive.

Do you think modelling is becoming more diverse? Explain your answer

Answer: Meh, sort of. I mean I suppose 10 years ago I probably wouldn't get any jobs at all, I still feel that there is a certain body type/generic quality that dominates the industry. Not only that most fellow models that I meet are Caucasian, generally when I'm applying for castings the lead roles are very often Caucasian only and anybody of mixed race is regulated to supporting characters.
Again it's also hard to compete for certain shoots with an Ostomy bag because well... it's different. I'm different, unique; just the way I like it.
I do have some advantages however; certain shoots ARE LOOKING for diversity or in particular MY DIVERSITY; so you just have to be a little resourceful. The game is certainly changing, just like the world.

What are the biggest challenges models now face?

Answer: Hmm, I suppose one thing for me is fighting the generic stereotype of what a male model is. A dumb pretty boy with only air in his head. I don't look like your average model, I don't talk like your average model, and the reason why is...... ding ding! There is no "average model", there is what's considered generically attractive in society (which I most certainly am not) and what a stereotype of a model is but I try my darnedest to fight that everyday.

How has social media changed the job of being a model?

Answer: Ah Social Media, I used to think it was the bane of my existence with everybody forgetting how to have real conversations and just "DM'ing" people now. However it's been a massive boon for business, I can not only network with other models and share tips and trade secrets but I can also find photographers/casting directors/producers etc. I can even formulate a relationship with these people online without even leaving my house (or multi tasking with being at the gym or something).
Not only does it give the power of networking but it also gives you access to a fan base if you're resourceful enough to take advantage of it, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Fan Pages, Youtube Channels, Collab projects with bigger Youtube Personalities and more well known models etc. In this day and age? People become famous overnight ;).

Please add any extra information if you wish

Answer: This is what I send all Casting Directors as a sort of cover letter:
Backstage Link: https://www.backstage.com/saleemjuma/
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/ostomybagswag/
Currently Co-Producer as well as Combatant in Television Pilot Episode of “Single Combat”

Previous work links:

Morpho promo video

Six Vodka Commercial

Myovision video (password is password)

Microsoft Outlook Commercial (In process of being published).
(Unnamed Client) Commercial for new technology.
Lexus Commercial Photoshoot (Pictures now available)
Episode of “Expedition Unknown” as a Passenger Extra (Airs in February 2017)

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