Teen chases her dream to ParisRachel Radzak will miss walking across the stage to get her diploma June 2. And if the Superior High School senior doesn’t make the all-night grad party later that night, it could mean her dreams are coming true.
By: Maria Lockwood, Superior Telegram
Rachel Radzak will miss walking across the stage to get her diploma June 2. And if the Superior High School senior doesn’t make the all-night grad party later that night, it could mean her dreams are coming true.
Today, Radzak and her parents fly to Paris for a modeling showcase. If the teen books any jobs at the show, she may not return to the United States for months. It’s a leap of faith that started with a local Fitzphoto DiscoverMe contest that led Radzak on a fashion journey.
“We are just so excited for her to have this opportunity,” said Radzak’s mother, Bobbie. Both she and her husband David have stood behind their daughter’s modeling dream from the beginning.
“Without my parents driving me to auditions and casting calls all the time, I wouldn’t have even made it this far,” Radzak said.
The DiscoverMe contest was a “local, low-key thing” that the Superior teen won by getting the most votes through texting. Part of the prize was a trip to a photography convention in North Carolina to model. There, photographers were surprised to find the 5-foot-9 teen was new to the business.
“At that time, I began to realize that I just might have a shot of making it somewhere in the modeling industry,” Radzak said. So she signed with Caryn Model & Talent Management in Minneapolis. Through the agency, she earned a casting call for the European Model Showcase in Paris.
“She could have gone by herself,” Bobbie Radzak said, but neither she nor her husband felt comfortable with that. So, they picked up passports this December and decided to turn it into a family vacation.
Although she had never been interested in overseas travel, Bobbie Radzak said she can’t wait to take it all in — from the Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame and Versailles to a night view of the “city of lights.” Next week, instead of signing yearbooks and wishing goodbye to classmates, Radzak will stroll down the catwalk in front of representatives from 30 different agencies.
“The goal of the showcase is for models to sign with foreign agencies and book jobs in foreign markets,” she said. “And if I end up signing with a foreign agency, I have no idea how long I could be gone from the states.” To date, she has been featured in a number of publications including Duluth-Superior Magazine and Lake Superior Weddings and Events, but they weren’t paid gigs. It takes travel to and from Minneapolis to get a shot at paid work.
The biggest reward of modeling, Radzak said, is “seeing how others can truly create something beautiful out of a plain girl with no makeup and poufy hair. The transformation is amazing.
“The most stressful part is trying to live up to everyone’s expectations.”
The market is super-competitive.
“There’s always going to be someone more beautiful or qualified than you,” Radzak said.
Modeling requires the right look and the right attitude.
“A thick skin is required to be able to take constant criticism,” the Superior model said. “Everything about your job is personal in modeling because you’re selling your looks.”
She encouraged anyone interested in the industry to be careful to choose a reputable agency and only get involved with legitimate modeling work.
“It can be a scary line of business if you’re not careful,” Radzak said.
Growing up with two older brothers, the blue-eyed brunette was something of a Tomboy. She’s more into fashion today, her mother said, and is determined and willing to take chances. Modeling isn’t her only passion. Radzak is involved with the National Honor Society, Pledgemakers, Senior Mentors, Future Business Leaders of America and the Superior-Douglas County Youth Leadership Program. She traveled with fellow SHS students to international DECA (an association of marketing students) competition earlier this month.
Even though she has stepped into the modeling arena, Radzak remains levelheaded. She exercises regularly and watches what she eats. But, said her mother, “she knows not to go crazy and be super-skinny.”
And the Superior model has future plans that don’t revolve around the catwalk.
“Ideally, I would stay in Europe after the EMS and secure myself in the modeling industry, making money, gaining more experience, and building my book, then hopefully be able to make a career out of modeling,” Radzak said. “However, I’m not counting on that at all. It’s just so difficult to consistently book jobs. I currently plan to go to UW-Stout in the fall to major in interior design and double minor in Spanish and business administration. Realistically, I plan on being an interior designer, but who knows, dreams might come true.”
Knowing she will miss the last week of school has been a little sad for Radzak, her mother said, “but this is a once in a lifetime opportunity for her.”
Whatever the outcome, she said, they will have had a wonderful family vacation and supported their daughter.
“She really wanted to do it, so we’re behind her,” Bobbie Radzak said.