Most people think that being a fashion model is one of the most glamorous jobs that one can get, as not only does a model get to wear fancy clothes, but they also appear to have a party lifestyle that many envy. However, two models who worked for President Donald Trump’s agency reveal that this is not the case, especially when you’re a young immigrant.
The models, who wished to remain anonymous, spoke with Business Insider about working for Trump Models. One of them said that she was trying to get a work visa, while the other did not want to use her name for fear of repercussions for speaking out.
One of the former Trump models said that she was 17 years old when her modeling agency in the Netherlands coordinated a work trip to New York to work with Trump’s agency. She and the other model were scheduled to spend three weeks in New York City and did not have working visas.
At first, both models agreed that their first trip to New York for Trump Models has been a positive experience. After the first model’s visit, the agency was not ready to help her get a work visa, saying that she needed to work on her portfolio some more.
On her second visit to New York, the model was housed at what is known in the industry as model apartments, where models crowd in a single room and sleep in bunk beds. She was asked to stay for two months when Trump Models saw that she was doing well during castings.
On her third visit, which was right before Fashion Week, the model said that things did not go well and that after the cost of the flight and housing, she was in debt to the agency. After the agency did not help her get a work visa once again, it confirmed her suspicions that Trump Models was not truly invested in her.
Back in August, former model Rachel Blais and two others spoke with Mother Jones detailing their experience with Trump Models. Blais, who is from Canada, said that she only had a tourist visa when she worked for the agency and that most of the girls that she shared the apartment with did not have work visas.
As employers hiring noncitizens without proper work visas can be fined up to $16,000 per employee, it was said that the agency coached the girls on how to avoid getting caught whenever they went abroad for photo shoots.
The three former models said that only the most successful models were sponsored work visas by Trump Model Management, but others who didn’t make the cut were sent home.
The president is said to have taken an active role at the agency since it was founded in 1999. He is said to have personally signed models who participated in his Miss Universe and Miss USA competitions.
Trump Models has yet to respond to several requests for comment regarding the allegations from the former models.
For more, check out Jobs & Hire’s report on Melania Trump as the first lady said that false reporting damaged her brand opportunity.