Project Runway models are not paid, receive only free food

The models who walk the literal runway on Project Runway, showing off the designers’ garments, are not paid. Even worse, one model says the show has led to zero interest in her, even though she’s made it to the final four.

Clarissa Anderson, Michael’s latest model, tells OnMilwaukee.com that the experience sometimes involved 15-hour days, which meant she couldn’t work other jobs. “Just doing (‘Project Runway’) and not being able to do other jobs while doing that was hard for me. I had to beg parents for money because I simply had no income at all,” she said. “I was so busy with the show that I wasn’t really able to get other jobs through my agency because anything I did book I couldn’t do because we were probably filming that day.”

She said the models had to be on set “sometimes two days in a row, 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., there all day.” All they received as compensation was food. And the rationale for all this work with no reward, she says, is totally false. “They say, it’s good exposure and everyone’s going to see you; just think of all the jobs you’ll get. I haven’t gotten many jobs because of it — like none,” Clarissa said.

At least they got to talk about their craft with Heidi Klum, right? Nope: at most, she says, Heidi would “pretty much just say hi.” That’s it. Tim Gunn, however, was more friendly. “That guy is a trip. Love that guy. I’ve never met anyone like him,” she said.

Forget unionizing Top Model writers: someone needs to take up their cause, because this is absurd. Seriously, Project Runway is NBC Universal’s most popular cable television program, and they can’t pay the models, the people who make the series possible? And the creator, executive producer, and host of the show is famous because she’s a model! I’m so appalled and angry I’m using exclamation points.

Maybe we should start a collection, and I propose that Bravo VP Andy Cohen start us off by donating the ad revenue from his self-serving blog.

“Project Runway’s” Milwaukee model shares her experience [OnMilwaukee.com]

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about the writer

Andy Dehnart is a journalist who has covered reality television for more than 15 years and created reality blurred in 2000. A member of the Television Critics Association, his writing and criticism about television, culture, and media has appeared on NPR and in Playboy, Buzzfeed, and many other publications. Andy, 36, also directs the journalism program at Stetson University in Florida, where he teaches creative nonfiction and journalism. He has an M.F.A. in nonfiction writing and literature from Bennington College. More about reality blurred and Andy.