Saturday, November 14, 2009

Everday roleModel

Tara Manning’s best days involve changing her outfit up to 60 times and being yelled at to get moving.
She was one of two models selected for a recent Macy’s lingerie show in Seattle.
“Usually they have more than just two, but I think that made it more fun,” she said.
The audience gets to watch her perform onstage, but Manning gets a bigger thrill from the action behind the curtains.
“As soon as you get backstage one person is ripping your clothes off and another one is putting clothes on. Someone shouts, ‘Go,” and you do it all again,” Manning said.

Manning repeated the process 60 times during the one-day assignment.
“If I had my choice, I would do runway shows. Those are the ones that get the adrenalin pumping. It’s a great natural high,” she said.
Her paycheck for the nine-hour job will cover the cost of an upcoming humanitarian trip to Guatemala and Honduras.
She’s never appeared on a 60-foot billboard. She hasn’t loomed large over the crowd in Times Square. Most often, Manning, a Stayton resident, can be found in the pages of your local Fred Meyer circular.
Model humanitarian
Manning’s first modeling job paid $150 an hour.
She was 16 at the time and was swept up in the whole experience.
“My mom was there counting the hours with me,” said Manning.
The shoot yielded a single photo that featured only her eyes in a rearview mirror.
“I was supposed to be a kid getting insurance for the first time,” she said.
Soon thereafter she tried out for a modeling agency that was in the habit of measuring their models.
“I was small at the time and they still tried to tell me I needed to lose weight,” she said.
She and her mother mutually decided it was time to take a hiatus from the modeling world.
During the time off, Manning set her mind to living life like a regular teenager and focused on performing with her high school’s dance team. She started teaching dance lessons as a sophomore in college.
“I had two students my first summer,” she said.
Since students weren’t exactly beating down the door, she used the extra time to return to modeling. Manning earned a degree in education and took a job as a full-time teacher, but soon found her dance classes and modeling were enough to keep her afloat. Enrollment had ballooned to 60 students.
She planned her first international trip to coincide with the end of the teaching job.
“I always wanted to go to China, so it had to be the first stop. After that I was hooked,” she said.
On that first trip, she was shocked by how few possessions the children of the country had.
“I had nothing to give them and, by the end of the trip, I was giving them whatever I had that could be replaced when I got home,” she said.
For her next trip, she bought a bigger suitcase and stuffed it full of school supplies for the children she encountered. Her most memorable experience occurred during a Christmas visit to Copper Canyon in Mexico.
“I gave a coloring book and crayons to a little girl there. When we got on the bus to leave the guide told us that the little girl had just asked for a coloring book for Christmas,” she said. “It was just one of those really weird moments. You never hear about what happens after the toys are given away.”
Her modeling jobs continue to pay for her travel expenses and she picks up new dance props for her classes at each country she visits.
The trips were part of her motivation for enrolling in foster care courses. She’s presently awaiting the arrival of her first foster child.
The good with the bad
Modeling isn’t always glitz and glamour. During a riding wear shoot, Manning was thrown from a horse.
“We were riding along and the horse decided it didn’t want me on its back,” she said.
The horse started bucking and Manning toppled headfirst to the ground. The next day she had to mount the beast again for a shoot in much more dangerous territory, Smith Rock.
She’s taken some lumps on the job, but modeling has opened variety of doors for the 25-year-old.
Manning served as an extra on the set of “The Feast of Love,” a Greg Kinnear and Morgan Freeman film recently shot in Portland. She stood next to Kinnear.
She performed in a national commercial for the Nintendo Wii and just landed her first acting role in a soap opera set in Portland.
Modeling doesn’t always land her in front of a lens. She is a clothing fit model for Nike’s yoga, dance and running attire, but doesn’t appear in ads.
“I get to go try on their clothing and then a panel of interviewers asks me questions about how it fits and whether changes could be made,” she said.
In a way, her opinion can help decide what clothing appears on store racks a year later.
She’s had bad experiences with photographers and others in the business but, instead of focusing on the negative, she tries to help others getting into the business avoid her mistakes.
Conversely, Manning has found other people in the business that are “simply great.”
“I love working with the Fred Meyer people. It’s just like a big family,” she said.
And there are still those days when everything seems to come together.
“I just did a Nutrisystem commercial. By the time I was done, I had completed my workout, made my money for the day and soon I’ll be able to see the commercial on television,” she said.

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