Interview Jana Letonja

Model, debutante, activist and  Gen-Z break-out star Tatiani Sloan made it into modeling by herself. She is sharing her story and experience on how she navigated such an elusive and intimidating industry from the get-go with us. When you’ll read her story, you’ll be asking yourself “How far is a dream really able to take you? 


Tatiani, you made it into modeling esentially on your own. How was this dream of yours, to become a model, born in the first place?

While growing up, I had never really had the intention of modeling set in my mind. Although, I did have an interest in pageantry as most of the women in my family had competed themselves. My grandmother had actually been crowned as Miss Universe in 1972, so I had some big shoes to fill. I had competed in my first pageant in high school and was scouted from that point. So, I guess you could say I stumbled into it at around 16 years old.

Tell us, what was your game plan? How did you make it?

I really only knew I wanted to go as far as I could go, aiming for the best agency I could. Which now looking back years later makes me laugh, because the chances of even being signed is such a toss up. I later learned there are so many factors weighing on that coveted “yes” or “no”, one not in my favor was height. I’m about 5’6 and the height minimum for most agencies I was applying to were 5’8 and above. Nonetheless, I took my chances and sent digitals to a handful of top agencies and waited. Weeks went by and no responses back, so back to the drawing board I went. After tweaking a few things and reshooting my digitals, I sent them again to the same handful of agencies. A few hours went by and I had received interest back from one of the top agencies in the industry. After an introductory Zoom call, I was formally signed later that week. 

The fashion industry is an elusive and intimidating one. How did and you still do navigate it?

You definitely continually learn on your feet. One of the things that helped me the most was surrounding myself with friends that modeled as well. This particular line of work can feel a bit isolating at times. I found that having support from people who understood the process took a lot of the pressure off. When finding your footing, one of the most important things to remember is to have a firm vision of what you want your image to be. Although, understand that criticism and rejection happens, but your next big break may be just around the corner. 

earrings BY PARIAH

What were the biggest hurdles you’ve encountered on your path?

I would have to say, a bit further into my career I managed to learn the ropes a bit. I formed a good idea of what I wanted my perceived image to be. What exactly it was I wanted to portray ended up directly correlating to which jobs I ended up booking. I think a big hurdle can oftentimes be finding representation who you click with and can help in getting you to the point of figuring out what your look should be and then furthering to cultivating that image so as to not sit stagnant. It can at times be a process, but it’s rewarding to have a strong agency that believes in you just as much as you do.

What do you see as the biggest challenges in modeling world, from the point of diversity and inclusivity?

I think this question can be answered in so many ways. For me, the biggest challenge from the diversity and inclusivity point were definitely self-image and the stigma of height as the two big ones. I’m pleased to see that the perceptions are changing, the industry is becoming a bit more lenient when it comes to their height minimum. One unexpected obstacle I faced was my look being either “in or out” at times, depending on which market you’re in. Some months you may have a busy schedule and others you may not. I think being prepared for some downtime is something to know in advance.

What has been the biggest reward in your career so far for all your hard work?

Honestly, this interview is so special to me. For one, having the platform to pass on knowledge to young women curious about the modeling industry is so rewarding. I think breaking this particular glass ceiling and starting conversation is important. This editorial was shot in London with such a hands-on team that worked to execute the intended vision. Personally, being able to produce and creatively head a project of this size at this point in my career is one of the biggest rewards to date. 

full look NENSI DOJOKA

What is your advice to young girls and women who are dreaming of becoming models?

My biggest piece of advice would be that oftentimes unanticipated risks come with the biggest rewards. Submit to that one top agency or reach out to that one great photographer. You truly never know where that first step may lead. Unfortunately, modeling professionally doesn’t come with a how-to handbook. The revolving line is “you never really know until you know”. Your break into modeling may be completely different than the next. Recognize the process as an adventure, celebrate your achievements during the high points and remind yourself that the low points are often short-lived. 

What were the biggest driving factors, pushing you to reach your goal of making it into modeling? What was inspiring you and driving your ambition?

I think in the beginning of my journey, what intrigued me most about this unconventional job was the mystique of it all. When you are in front of the lens, a new version of yourself is born. With every click of the camera a vision is created from the artist’s viewpoint. I liked the ability to play a character or see a different “me” within each shoot. Although, when asking me that same question now, the thing driving my ambition is the business aspect of the industry. I took all of my gathered knowledge of the industry and used it as a springboard in my career, allowing myself to build and  capitalize on what once began as just a short-termed interest to now an investment. 


If we asked you now How far is a dream really able to take you?, what would be your answer?

I love this question and thankfully there is a fairly simple answer. A dream is able to take you however far you’re willing to take it. I think being a touch ‘unrealistic’ is a great thing. It sounds a bit chiché, but undeniably true. The only person in the way of your goal is you, so take that risk as it might just be the best thing you do. 

Tatiani, what are your dreams and goals for the future? Can you share a bit about your upcoming projects?

I think my dreams and goals often evolve as I do. As I achieve each set goal, it’s such a fun process to see which new one takes its place. I love keeping myself and those keeping up with me on their toes a bit. It’s all about that next big jump. So, I guess you’ll have to wait and see, but there is definitely more to come.

producer/Talent TATIANI SLOAN @tatianisloan
photographer ALEKSANDRA KLICKA @klickaphotography
stylist JALEESA BURGESS @stylebyjaleesa 
makeup RACHEL SINGER CLARK @rachelsingerclark 
hair ANDREW DYLAN @andrewdylanhair 
set assistant ANNA WATSON @annawatsxn
imaging JESSICA MCHUGH @jessicamchugh.retouching
interview JANA LETONJA @janaletonja