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No Agency SS20 New York show package Theo Adams 23
Styling Coco Campbell

Drama, drama, drama: watch No Agency’s models take an acting class

As part of a collaboration with artist and director Theo Adams and filmmaker Martin Cohn, watch the artists, musicians, and actors that make up the alternative agency’s books enrol at a performing arts school

From the moment it was founded in 2016, alternative model reps No Agency have been doing things differently. Not only are its signees ridiculously good looking, they’re also ridiculously talented, with a number of artists and musicians and actors (and more) making up its books. 

Since then, each season, the agency has released a show package which essentially serves as a mini-advertisement for their talent (while also being pretty handy for casting directors enlisted to hunt out models for fashion week). Former collaborators include Sandy Kim and Richard Kern, before the models themselves turned the camera on each other last year. 

This time around, for SS20, No Agency teamed up with Theo Adams, the artist and director of the Theo Adams Company, their collaborator, the filmmaker and performer Martin Cohn, and photographer Andrew Brucker to create a series of photos and a short film inspired by what goes on at acting and dance classes. 

Shot earlier this summer during a disruptive NYC heatwave – and one day before the 50th anniversary of the first moon landing – Adams, Cohn, and agency director Alex Tsebelis gathered every No Agency signee at Gibney Dance in Manhattan. The models, dressed in leggings and leotards, pose for professionally lit mirror selfies and classic acting headshots (the kind you see tacked up on bulletin boards around the world), and star in a short film titled Train Without Tracks: A Journey Into Acting. 

Led by veteran actress Marilu Henner (as teacher Sheryn Campbell), the film sees the models take an acting class, in which they perform vocal exercises and put their whole fists inside their mouths. According to No Agency’s Gabbriette (born Gabbriette Bechtel), a 22-year-old model and singer in the Charli XCX-endorsed band Nasty Cherry, Henner was ‘inspiring and graceful’ and also ‘really did not give a fuck’.

“Theo and I always like to toy with the idea of learning how to perform because that in itself is a performance in our work,” Cohn explains of the series. “Melding an old school approach to entertainment training with selfies, a modern form of show, became an interesting way to explore the performativity that seems to permeate the industry and people no matter what era you're in.”

Cohn adds that inspiration for the shoot came from “dance, singing, a basement level acting class on a hot summer day. The great teachers and methods that still stand strong today – Hagen, Meisner, Stanislavski. And Tab, one of the first diet sodas. Sadly, it's fallen out of fashion, but it's a really great beverage!”

In addition to posing for her own shots, 20-year-old model and photographer Lumia Nocito set up the lighting for every single dramatic mirror selfie. The images were created using an app called Moment, which allows for full manual control on iPhone photos. “It was really crazy to have to light so many girls and show them how to use the selfie application, and also to pose them and make sure that they were still,” she says. “And it was also interesting because some people didn't really know how to take mirror selfies properly, but I think it was still a lot of fun.”

Gabriette (who played parts like Annie’s Miss Hannigan in high school theatre) said she only likes taking mirror selfies when ‘she’s having a really shitty hair day’ or looks ‘really bad’ concluded that taking her mirror photo was a challenge. However, spending the day with all of the No Agency models – ranging from New York teenagers like Manon Macasaet and Sabrina Fuentes to actress and host of the tendentious Red Scare podcast Dasha Nekrasova – was a treat, she concludes. 

“We don't get to hang out that often like that, so just having good conversation and one-on-ones and just finding people hidden around different corners and stopping for a talk and a coffee and a cab or whatever – it was good,” she said. “I just feel like everyone's doing really interesting things with their time and everyone has their own story. So it's cool. I feel really happy to be a part of the family.”

Watch the film below.