Joia Talbott has had it with racism in the fashion industry.
On Friday, the black model posted a series of videos on Instagram Stories in which she accuses casting directors at Miami Swim Week of “going above and beyond to let [models of color] know we were not welcome,” she says.
Talbott, 29, tells The Post that about a dozen black models were dismissed from a casting for Kya Swim that day because of their race.
When Talbott, who wears her hair natural and in an Afro, arrived at the audition for Kya’s runway show on Friday, she says the white casting director told her that her hair was unacceptable.
Then, she says, that same casting director proceeded to announce to all of the models waiting — including several other black women — that they were done casting models.
“We were all turned away from this casting,” one of Talbott’s fellow models, Kate Citrone, confirms to Fashion Week Online — though she adds that it’s “a mystery” as to whether it was “for our skin tone or because we genuinely ‘didn’t fit the look’ the designer was looking for.”
Talbott doesn’t have any doubts, though. She says that all of the waiting models began packing up with the director’s announcement — but as the black women left the audition space, Talbott saw casters allow more models — mostly white — to audition.
Citrone had a similar experience. “Upon leaving, I noticed the designer still accepting models of a fairer skin type at the door, bringing them upstairs,” she tells Fashion Week Online.
It’s not like Talbott or her colleagues are unaccustomed to rejection in the industry: “We get told no every day,” Talbott says. But this situation, she adds, “was completely disrespectful.”
Furious, Talbott took to Instagram to rant about her experience. From there, it “made its way to Facebook,” she says, where it proceeded to go viral.
Talbott says that the group of models of color who were turned away ranged in skin tone. “If you had any ounce of color in you at all, they were not accepting of that. Because we were all of different shades and they still said no,” she says.
The models — many of whom were complete strangers — bonded over the experience, she adds. “In that moment they made us feel that we weren’t anything at all.” So they took a photo together and posted it to Instagram “to prove to them that there’s no such thing as too much brown skin,” Talbott says. “We’re in this together.”
When asked about these allegations, a Kya representative told The Post: “Everyone at Kya Swim is deeply disturbed by the allegations brought by Joia Talbott and other models about the casting event at Miami Swim Week. Kya Swim is proud of its record of diversity and we are in the midst of looking into the events of last Thursday to review the actions of the production company in charge of the casting call.”
Photos from the Kya runway show appeared to feature few black models.
Talbott says that she saw the Kya casting crew let one black model into the audition room. “You have one black model [so] you can say that you had one,” she says.
Photo Credit: Look Models International Inc.