Gwen: I started out as an Event Planner/Party Promoter who became a free-lance Plus Model, and ultimately ended up as a Producer of fashion related events, specializing in the plus size community. Although I am not entirely certain that event planning (or modeling) was ever my purpose, it is definitely a passion. Passion is more than meeting a goal or being the best at what you do. Passion is what drives you to wake up each morning and love what you do. I sincerely love what I do. The journey that led to my conceptualizing, and producing fashion related events for the plus size community, basically started with what I felt was the lack of trained and professional plus models. I wanted to fill that void, and did so by creating The Plus Academy, one of the first (if not the very first) model development and training programs dedicated "solely" to aspiring plus models.
Maddy: The Plus Academy has expanded in the last year by leaps and bounds; what can you tell us about the curriculum the Plus Academy follows?
Maddy: Full Figured Fashion Week will be back in NYC this summer for it's third year. What can you tell us about this much-anticipated event?
Gwen: Full Figured Fashion Week 2011 in New York City will by far, surpass the other FFFWeek events thus far. I just announced that the dates are June 16-18, 2011 and I already have groups of women who are organizing themselves to travel together to attend the event. This year, I intend to change our event format somewhat to keep current with some of the trends of other fashion week events. This year the event will only be three days in New York but these three days will be jam packed with the excitement and networking opportunities that have become synonymous with the FFFWeek brand. Additionally, we anticipate a huge international presence this year. Exciting!
Gwen: Thankfully, the task of choosing models is not mine (smile). However, I do give our Casting Director direction in the types of models that I would like booked. It is extremely important to me to have a diverse group of models of various sizes, ethnicities and ages in the show. My advice to models who are interested in submitting for FFFWeek is simple: 1) Read, read, and re-read the casting notice. Half of the submissions are tossed because the ladies do not read and follow instructions. You only get one shot because there are usually at least another 25 submissions right after yours that are completed correctly; 2) FFFWeek is an annual event in NYC. Start preparing to submit now.
Maddy: You have been working with plus size models for a very long time, some have moved on to find their way in the industry. In your opinion, what are the makings of a good model?
Gwen: I am fortunate to have worked with some of the best plus models in the industry before they became popular. These ladies are a tremendous inspiration to me and a testimony to what I do. I have watched quite a few of them grow professionally and to this day, I continue to follow their careers. I do not consider myself to be a scout, but I am confident in my belief that the makings of a good model is someone who is hungry, humble, flexible, passionate and willing to be directed. These are just a few traits of a good model.
Maddy: You seem to have really reached the pinnacle of your career. What is next for Gwen DeVoe?
Gwen: I still have so much I'd like to accomplish. I can think of 5 really great projects I would like to start right now, but it's not time. I think the next step for me is television. I used to shy away from TV but recently I've been thinking about having my own show. Television is the fastest way to touch a lot of people in a short amount of time, and I want a piece of that!