Model agency Zebedee Management are celebrating their first birthday! Zebedee Management are a new organisation who look to increase the representation of people with disabilities within fashion, media and the arts. Their belief is that people with many unique characteristics should have the same opportunities as ‘mainstream’ artists. Their aim is to find actors and models work within the industry. Their team is lead by Zoe Proctor and Laura Johnson. Zoe has over 20 years experience teaching performing arts and has modelled for many years. Laura is a fully qualified social worker, who has extensive knowledge, and mummy of a child model herself.
Disabled people have been the most unrepresented minority group in the media and fashion worlds, with Zebedee Management on a mission to change this. The agency supply models for big high street brands, London Fashion Week, mental health awareness and disability campaigns as well as some smaller independent companies, who are all keen on seeing change.
They are thankful to everyone who has supported their journey so far, proud to be celebrating their first year milestone. “I don’t think either of us are under any illusion that this is going to be easy, but I think the marketplace is changing,” says Laura. “You only have to look at the success of the Dove adverts, which feature ordinary women of all shapes and sizes, to see that. “I think people respond to real people and disability, whether mental or physical, is part and parcel of society. What we want to do is show that our models are as talented and as beautiful as anyone else. We want to show that disability isn’t something that should be airbrushed out of advertising campaigns, but something to be embraced.”
“Increased coverage of the Paralympics has brought disability into people’s living rooms and the soaps have also played a part in casting disabled actors,” says Laura. “A couple of years ago Liam Bairstow became Coronation Street’s first actor with Down’s syndrome. That all helps, but the fact that a story like that makes the news shows you still how unusual it is. It would be lovely to think that in a few years time, people would walk past advertising billboards featuring disabled models and not bat and eyelid. Our aim is to make disability so visible that it’s just accepted as part of normal everyday life. We have the determination and now we just need the fashion, advertising and television industries to get on board.”
Zebedee believes disability needs to be part of the diversity you represent. They understand that the benefits of being part of the body positive movement, are huge on so many levels, by raising awareness. This is the start of a very exciting journey challenging all the ‘mainstream’ campaigns.