Living in New York has been the most overwhelming and educational experience of my life so far.
The first time I saw the New York skyline, on arrival from JFK airport, was at the age of 18, fresh off the plane from Ireland. I remember I immediately could feel the energy was different the second I landed and my heart began to beat the same vibrant beat of the city.
Having only been to Florida with my family, I had no idea what New York entailed. It's hard to describe New York, which I can only say is a feeling. A feeling of ambition, accomplishment and most of all, passion. It's the capital of the world, the Europe of America, in my opinion.
I had won a modeling contract in Ireland at my university and was advised to come to New York to take a bite out of the big apple. Alongside my momager, (manager and mother) we had big plans to take on the city that never sleeps.
We booked to stay for the week at the Hilton midtown along with all the other out-of-towners. I had a number of interviews with top modeling agencies set up that week in hopes of being signed with one of the big ones.
While my mom was fascinated by the 24 hour breakfast spots and getting the Sunday papers on a Saturday night, I had gotten a crick in my neck from looking up at the biggest skyscrapers I had ever seen. Having traveled only throughout Europe, the vastness of New York fascinated me. Endless possibilities, the land of opportunity, the city that never sleeps. In a city so condensed with people there was a huge sense of anonymity and freedom. There were more people on the Island of Manhattan, than the whole population of Ireland. One hundred and eighty six different languages are spoken here every day. It was mind blowing and a huge culture shock for a girl coming from Dublin.
I remember waving at the stretch limos that drove by us, thinking that Tom Cruise or Brad Pitt maybe in them. Little did I know, it was most likely a businessman or tourist going to the airport.
After settling in, it was time to visit the top modeling agencies in Manhattan. Having only modeled a few jobs in Ireland for the local paper, you could say I was pretty clueless. I put on a bright red, off the shoulder, cocktail dress, red lipstick, red 5 inch heels and curled my hair. I was more Irish pageant princess than Kate moss. I thought however, I looked very high fashion, obviously being encouraged by my overzealous mother. I held a folder with my cut out pictures from the Irish newspapers I had featured in. I felt I was ready to take on the New York fashion world.
As I walked through midtown my mother walked a few feet behind, giggling and watching me. I called to her to catch up as we were running late. She explained to me it was like a scene from Billy Joel's 'Pretty Woman' as I walked down sixth avenue and she enjoyed watching the bankers bend their heads at this completely naive lady in red, obviously fresh off the boat, pranced by.
First stop was at a very prominent New York agency. I sat in the lobby area anxiously waiting to meet with one of the agencies head model bookers, clicking my red heels together, slightly wishing I was in the comforts of my home town. He came out with a measuring tape. After measuring me from head to toe, he told me that I wasn't currently what they are looking for. I left feeling very inferior as my heartbroken mother looked on at her 18 year old daughters hopes and dreams being torn apart. After two other agency meetings said no and we'll call you, I was ready to give up.
I had one last appointment, with a top agency called New York Models. I was brought into the waiting room and met with an assistant who simply took my photo and said "we'll call you". Disheartened again, I lowered my head, to walk out of the agency, thinking they'll never call me. My dreams were quickly fading before my eyes. If you can make it here you'll make it anywhere. Who was I to think that I could take on this big city with little to no experience.
As I walked towards the door to the elevator I hear a voice behind me saying "wait a minute". I turned around to see a lady who looked very important walking by. "Please come back tomorrow, no red dress, no makeup, no big hair, just natural in jeans and a white t shirt. You've got a great look", She said.
I couldn't believe it! I had a chance! I went back the next day, exactly the opposite girl from the pageant queen, big haired, lady in red, just off the boat. Having grown up in Ireland loving my black eyeliner and fake tan, I felt completely naked with no makeup and a white tank top.
I waited back in the same waiting room anxiously and met with the lady from the day before. Her name was Melissa, and she was the top model booker at New York Models. She signed me straight away on a three year contract and visa. Little did I know, she would be my agent for eight years of modeling success in New York City and my life was about to change forever.
Rosalind Lipsett is an Irish-born model and actress from Dublin. She has been featured in numerous magazines, such as “Sports Illustrated”, “FHM”, “Tattler” and "Allure Magazine" and has been a fashion ambassador for many brands such as “Prada”, “Versace”, and “Burberry”. She’s been represented by top agencies such as Elite, Wilhelmina, and New York Models. Rosalind graduated with an honors degree from University College of Dublin, majoring in Art History. She is actively involved in the New York art scene and is also pursuing acting studies, ranging from comedy at the Groundlings theatre LA, to dramatic studies at Ivanna Chubbick studios. She currently lives in New York.