Modeling career

UI student stumbles over overseas modeling career

While looking for a part-time job abroad, third-year student Danielle Leveille tried her luck in the Japanese modeling industry. Leveille found herself working 10 to 12 modeling jobs per month and a full-time position at her agency after graduation.

Wyatt dlouhy

Danielle Leveille poses for a portrait in Molly’s Cupcakes in Iowa City on Wednesday, November 28, 2018.

Danielle Leveille’s Instagram looks like that of any successful model. Photos of different styles of fashion shoots fill her stream, captioned almost entirely in Japanese. However, Léveillé is not a full time model in Japan; she is a student in the third year of unemployment insurance.

Originally from Chicago, Levielle began learning Mandarin Chinese in elementary school. She continued the language until high school, she said, until she got bored and decided to teach herself Japanese.

In high school, she spent a month in Japan for two consecutive summers with a host family, immersing herself in the Japanese language and culture.

When she arrived at IU, she was fluent in Japanese. She said she knew she wanted to return to the country she fell in love with, so Léveillé studied abroad last year in Tokyo.

Spending, especially for an entire academic year, can be intimidating for overseas students. She decided to look for a part-time job and got interested in modeling.

“In the United States, you have to be at least 5 feet 10 inches tall for model agencies to look at you, but Japan doesn’t have the same standards,” Leveille said.

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In one month, Léveillé, measuring 5 feet 5 inches, had signed with four modeling agencies. After the first few months of fashion, product promotion, and business modeling, she was getting almost 30 emails per month for different jobs. She also disseminated journalism and translation through modeling agencies.

“I was just scrolling down Instagram and realized Danielle’s page was turned off,” said Chelsea Higgins, an UI student, a friend of Leveille. “I thought it was weird, so I wentogle her name and found out that she had created a new Instagram just for her modeling and study abroad adventures. cool.”

While in Japan, Léveillé reconnected with friends she made during her time in Tokyo in high school, and she made new friends with other foreign students and models she worked with.

“While in Japan, Danielle obtained academic credits for her degree,” said Toni Bartolutti, UI’s study abroad advisor for Japan. “She has acquired a professional and concrete experience to add to her curriculum vitae. And she built a network of local friends, models and professional colleagues. Over time, she cultivated a personal brand and transformed into a citizen of the world. “

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Pursuing his cultural ambition, Leveille studied American Sign Language and taught himself Afrikaans.

Back in the United States, Léveillée sent her portfolio to agencies near her home and signed with a Quad Cities company. Léveillé has done some work since her return in August, she said.

One of Léveillé’s agencies offered him a full-time position upon his return to Japan. After graduating from UI, she plans to move to Tokyo for a few years and work for the agency, she said.

Leveille said she considers Japan to be her home away from home. Instead of fearing culture shock, she adopted it, allowing him to fully experience all that Tokyo has to offer. While she appreciates where she is now in Iowa City, she said, she looks forward to returning to Japan.

“[Cultural immersion] can open doors for more career options, and it can help you build relationships with people you never approached or tried to establish a relationship with, ”said Leveille .