Zebedee: Interview With An Inclusive Modelling Agency
Zebedee is a specialist talent agency created to increase the representation of people who have until now been excluded in the media, including people with disabilities or alternative appearances and trans/non binary. They are a small workforce but work extremely hard across the world. Zebedee currently operate in the UK, US, parts of mainland Europe and are now expanding to Australia in 2021. They have recently launched our Influencer division also.
The inspiration to create Zebedee Management was formed when founders Zoe and Laura realised there wasn’t a company out there representing people with disabilities and differences, so decided to create one themselves. Zebedee’s Alice Winson kindly joins us to tell us more about the work they do, and what the journey has been like so far.
Hi Alice, thanks for talking with us at TheatreArtLife! In the beginning when Zebedee was first founded, what was the reaction like from both the industry and the talent?
The reaction was slow and steady, we worked steadily and continue to do so with contacts who continually come back to our agency. We spoke to the press a lot (like right now!) and only recently found out that other talent agencies refuse to do that for some reason… we function in our own way!
Representation is finally opening up and becoming a topic that is more readily addressed and talked about, but this has been a long time coming. Have you found that campaigning for diversity and inclusion for your clients still takes up much of Zebedee’s workload, or are things improving and becoming more representative of our diverse society?
We do our campaigns separately to our day-to-day work, but we usually plan them well in advance and they don’t take up much time because of this. However, due to COVID we haven’t been able to plan any new campaigns, but keep an eye out in in 2021!
There is still a lot of room in the industry for change, so we won’t be easing up on our campaigning for disability issues in the media.
Since Zebedee was founded in 2017 you’ve exploded and now look after over 500 models and actors. How did you grow and scale in that time, and do you feel it demonstrates there was a huge need for Zebedee to exist?
Our quick growth really reflects the necessity of an agency exclusively for those with disabilities and differences. We have given so many more opportunities to our talent than they ever would have been given elsewhere. Our sensitive representation further makes becoming a model/actor/influencer more accessible to those with extra needs.
What has been the biggest barrier or obstacle Zebedee has faced and how did you overcome that?
Getting our talent cast in roles where their disabilities are incidental. We want to send our talent to cast for roles which are open to all kinds of people, and for their qualities to be recognised and admired. It does happen, but we want to see it more.
And conversely, what have been the positive outcomes for you and your clients over the years? What are the high points and success stories?
We obviously had some major success with our model Ellie Goldstein this past year which her appearance in Vogue Italia for Gucci Beauty. She became Gucci’s most liked Instagram post (by a country mile) and has changed the beauty advertising industry completely. Brands are recognising that consumers want to see equal representation because of Zebedee and Ellie.
What advice would you give to any disabled, alternative or trans/non binary folks out there who are having a tough time?
You are worthy and beautiful of being seen in the media.
How can people apply to be a model with you, and what is the process they need to follow?
We have a link on our website to applications, which can be for models, actors or influencers! To find out more and to apply visit our page here.
Although the coronavirus pandemic is still ongoing, what does the future look like for Zebedee, and what can we look forward to next from you?
We have recently launched out influencer division and are expanding into the world of social media and influencer marketing. We are also expanding into Australia and further recruiting in the USA!