As a girl, Sherly Ellis had no self-confidence. She towered over her peers and viewed herself as the ugly duckling. Always slouched over, Ellis ran into some trouble with her health and was astounded when a doctor told her she should be carrying herself proudly. After that day, she enrolled in modeling classes and started embracing the height she once considered her greatest flaw.
Today, Ellis, also known as Sherly Ellis-Johnson, is the CEO of Legacy Model and Talent Agency, where she helps others learn to love who they are by coaching them in posture, poise and presentation to help them become successful models, too.
Teaching these tidbits to clients is just a small portion of what Legacy does. Its main purpose is to serve as an agency, linking its talent with production companies and casting agencies in need of models or actors.
“We’ve provided a number of jobs for our talent,” said Ellis. These jobs include fashion shows, print media, TV commercials, movie extras and more.
Ellis uses her knowledge and experience to network and obtain work for her clients. She has 35 years of experience as a model and actress, and still goes on casting calls. Additionally, she has taught modeling and acting for more than 30 years.
“We have clients from all over, some learn about us through the Internet and some from the fact that I’ve been around for along time,” said Ellis.
Legacy opened in December of 2008 and has already seen significant growth.
“It’s fantastic, we’ve gone from zero talent to having about 130 signed up, and better than 1,000 who have walked through our doors,” said Ellis.
When aspiring talent comes to Legacy, they are given a rundown of the business and a tour of its facilities. Ellis stresses the importance of head shots in getting modeling jobs, and when a prospective talent does not already have head shots, Legacy provides a mock photo shoot.
“We let them work in front of the camera until they feel comfortable,” said Ellis.
Potential clients go through an initial interview to gain an understanding of what Legacy offers and what the agency’s expectations are.
“It shouldn’t cost anything to be a part of an agency; agencies should only make money when they find work for their talent,” said Ellis.
Before people commit to the agency, Ellis impresses upon them the importance of passion — one of Legacy’s only requirements. The agency accepts talent of all ages. Legacy’s youngest talent is 7 months old and the oldest member is 80.
“We take talent from the womb to the tomb,” said Ellis. “If you look at TV commercials, are there pregnant women? Yes. Infants? Yes. A lot of people have said they’re too old, but that’s the misconception because there’s a lot more to it than just runway.”
In addition to offering talent exposure, connections and helpful tactics, Legacy hosts workshops for both its talent and others interested in the business. Legacy plans to expand the range of workshops offered, which already includes vocal, acting, finishing and modeling. New workshop topics are expected to include hip-hop, ballet and jazz.
“We try to give our talent the tools to go out and compete,” said Ellis. “We want to be leaving a legacy for everyone.”
Ellis noted that aside from knowing the poise, posture and presentation that they teach, people should have an open mind about free projects.
“Talent won’t always get paid for the work they do,” said Ellis. “You won’t find too many people who will hire someone with no experience; they need some type of training.”
Her other tips were that prospective models and actors should always be prepared to compete with those involved in theater and above all, be able to love themselves.
Legacy Model and Talent Agency
3815 W. St. Joseph Hwy.
East Atrium, Ste. A-101