top of page
  • Writer's pictureKamla-Kay McKenzie

Getting Signed to Heffner Management

I remember years ago scrolling through IG and seeing models who were signed with HEFFNER MANAGEMENT.

Heffner represented some amazing models whose portfolio's were top notch.

Their models would often comment on social media with positive rhetoric and accolades on how much they loved being represented by the agency.

As someone who once lived in Seattle for a summer as an intern and loved the city, having ties yet again to Seattle was a major goal for me as it related to getting an agency on the west coast of the U.S.

I also was keen on getting an agency that had a new client list that I had yet to work with.

Although I was already signed to several great agencies in both the USA and Cape Town, South Africa, I still had other goals to expand my potential in the modeling industry.

As my confidence and portfolio developed, one day I decided to submit my digitals/polaroids to Heffner.

Modeling digitals comp card
Modeling digitals/polaroid comp card

I waited - and waited - and never hear back from them.

As a model, we are always well aware that sometimes agencies never see our online submissions as a result of them receiving thousands of submissions per week via their site.

Therefore, not hearing back from an agency could mean 1 of 2 things.

1) They never saw your submission to begin with in the droves of other submissions that buried yours in the pile. It's not personal.

2) They saw your submission and you were not a good fit for their agency at the time and thus you were not offered a contract. It is important to note that many agencies will not send any response back if they are not interested in signing you at the time.

Fast forward maybe over a year or more later and I was on set shooting in the cutest beach house along the Gulf Coast of Florida. That particular shoot was for a clothing client and I was on set with another model whom I had just met for the first time that day.

As the day progressed and we began conversations to get to know each other, I found out that she was signed to Heffner Management and that she loved working with the agency.

I was so excited! Was this a sign for me to try submitting again?

I had someone who was genuine and honest about the agency and the conversation was motivating me to try to submit once again.

Once I arrived back home, I began commenting on Heffner's page once again so much so that someone within the agency reached out to me via IG DM and we struck up a conversation.

Long story short, after seeing some of my modeling photos on my wall, one of the agency bookers asked me to email over my newest digitals and portfolio to the agency via a direct email address that they provided to me.

OMG this is happening. They reached out to me. This is a good sign, right?

This was my moment to get signed!

I knew there were no guarantees but I had a shot.

The very next day after submitting the content he requested, I received an email response back from the agency.

It was a no.

The bookers had apparently reviewed my portfolio and decided that I wasn't a good fit for them at the time.

The opportunity that seemed so direct at getting a contract had just crumbled.

I was saddened in reading the email for sure but within a day or so I was back to realizing that it just wasn't meant to be and that there was no need to continue to "mourn" over not getting signed to this agency.

Modeling has a LOT of rejection. I was used to it.

The weeks turned into months.

6 months to be exact.

In that time period, I continued to work on the following 3 things to increase my odds of other agencies noticing my work:

1) Worked on taking better digitals.

2) I continued to improve my portfolio with more versatile shots.

3) I was more diligent about posting more content on my IG and learned how to create my own content at home to attract new sponsored post clients as well.

Then on in June 2020 I received another DM from Heffner with a phone number to the agency and a note asking me to call the office.

The note did not state why. It was a one liner.

I called the agency to then find out that the President of Heffner was the one who sent me the DM.

We spoke about varied aspects of the modeling industry, the racial injustice and the protests that were currently happening in the midst of the global COVID pandemic.

Then we dived into discussing my portfolio.

I was having a great conversation with the President - with Nancy to be exact.

She was gracious, open-minded and complimentary.

As it turns out, they had noticed my new photos, the kinds of comments and commentary that I was leaving on their wall and conversation starters being posted to mine.

They were now at the stage of --- you guessed it, wanting to offer me a contract.

I was elated.

And super thankful!

I was being offered a modeling contract by a well respected agency in the Pacific Northwest whom multiple of my friends were already signed with.

I should note that most agencies will tell models to resubmit again within 3-6 months time to the agency if you were declined prior in hopes that maybe they will be interested at a later date.

Well here I was 6 months later and the agency was ending the phone call by telling me they would email over my on-boarding paperwork and agency contract.

While all professional models know that receiving a modeling contract through any agency is not a guarantee that you will book paid work with said agency, certainly getting signed helps to increase those odds.

I had ran the marathon and lost the race 2x with this same agency.

But I kept at it---much like what I want you to do as well.

And then it became official.

My modeling portfolio is now live on HEFFNER MANAGEMENT'S site.

Modeling portfolio images of black model Kamla-Kay on Heffner Management website
Model Kamla-Kay signed to Heffner Management

There is a saying that says "delayed but not denied."

It may have taken several years to get a contract with this particular agency but I have learned through my faith that God's timing is always best even if it means disappointments and hurdles to get to the final destination.

As a professional model, this is just another reminder of the importance of having a portfolio and digitals that speaks of quality and versatility. Work on BOTH!

Moreover, it is a confirmation that agencies and clients are scouting models from our social media pages, specifically Instagram and therefore what we post is important even outside of trying to land a corporate job.

To wrap, if you are an aspiring model, be reminded that Tyra Banks was denied by MANY top tier modelings agencies who told her she didn't have what it takes to be signed to their agency.

Today Tyra's net worth is $90 million as a result of her modeling career.

As someone who has worked with clients such as the Ritz-Carlton, Stella McCartney, Disney, The Kardashians, Ashley Furniture, etc. the opportunities that I have had did not occur overnight.

So keep going. Keep submitting. Keep learning all the facets of the industry. Keep training. Keep developing your portfolio.

If you have the right look and drive for the industry, it's only a matter of time before the clock rolls around and it becomes your season.

Peace & Love,



1) Feel free to check out other articles on my blog with tips on how to advance in the modeling industry such as how to take your digitals.

2) Sign up for my free newsletter here where I will send you free content directly to your inbox to help you on this journey.

3) If you are looking for an in-depth coaching experience about the modeling industry where I work with you 1:1, check out my Masterclass model coaching course here which is a series of live coaching sessions with just you and I.

4) Subscribe to my YouTube channel created to help you with additional tips about the modeling industry.


bottom of page