She may be only twenty three, but Bianca Simmone's success and ambitions revels beyond her years. From dancer to designer, and every letter of the alphabet in between, she has found her calling in what she wants to pursue and like most talents, they emerged and blossomed from a young age, and varied from the beginning. Here Bianca talks openly about her journey so far.
How did you realise that you had a talent?
My first ambition was singing and dancing, because I had always listened to my mum's music in the house. She would be cleaning up and I would be dancing around, singing along to all the songs, so she found a Saturday class for me, Kids Club. They taught dancing, singing, acting and modelling (for children) which I started when I was about eight years old, and I was there until I was eleven. While I was there, sometimes the teachers wouldn't turn up, or they wouldn't be able to make it, they would put me in charge because I was older than a lot of the kids there. I would take care of the class, put on a dance routine, maybe take over a singing lesson, and modelling lessons as well. I was teaching for about six to eight months.
Ok, so that was until you were like eleven and a half, that's when you started high school. This can bring a lot of emotions in a young person's life, but why did you suffer from depression at this time?
Erm, to be honest with as a child when your growing up, you tend to be influenced by other people, you're facing different obstacles and I think I just got caught up in the wrong crowd that wasn't even focused on school, or generally didn't have any goals or ambitions for whatever they wanted to do. So, a lot of the time where I could have progressed in my career, for example - dancing, and singing I kind of lacked because I was hanging out with people that weren't doing the after school activities that I was initially was doing until I got caught up in the wrong crowd. On top of that, I had a lot of hate in school, a lot of females didn't like me, and for most times I didn't know why. I was young, I just wanted to be friends with everybody.
More importantly, how did you overcome that?
My mum was very supportive; she was always there for me, explaining how life was and how people are. Away from school she gave me that strength to get by day by day, and luckily enough I did have two very close friends who were there for me and they never judged my situations or the things I was in, or the people I was with. They were the ones that had kept me going, kept me smiling, and I thought ‘to be honest, if I can have two friends that are always going to be there for me then I really don't need anyone else.' My mum always said to me, ‘by the time you get to a certain age in life, you can count your friends on one hand. It was passing stage, I would get past it and I would become strong'.
When you began singing how did you feel when you heard your voice on other people's tracks?
It was great, at the beginning it was just fun. I enjoyed being in the studio just singing away. At this point I think I was sixteen going on seventeen. It was fun to get in there because I had been writing from a young age. I was writing in school and two of my poems got entered into a book, so from then I was always able to put a song together, lyrically. So I was able to have a good time with it, I was not necessarily pushing for my career until I saw their belief in me. They saw that I could do really well, that I had the image and personality for it.
So you didn't feel like you were being limited in the way you wanted to use your creativity?
At that age, it was more of an exciting thing to be able to work with other people who had actually given me the chance and the time of day, because at the end of the day, there are not a lot of people that would reach out their hand and say they want to work with you, so at that point, I was just happy be able to do something I enjoy doing.
Following your passion into dancing, exactly how hard is it to break into the industry in the UK?
I think dancing has a larger gap in comparison to the other sectors in the industry. I know so many people that are in dance groups and they've done so much work, and I think it's great. I don't understand how it's a bigger market, because there is the same amount of people in each sector. I feel dancing has done really well, for me; I didn't carry it on for the fact that there was loads of bitchiness in my dance group, but I did lots of things with it. I was a back up dancer for Kele Le Roc; I danced at Hipadrome for showcases and the Streetdance every year. Dancing is still something I would like to do so I can keep up with the latest moves.
When you were in the midst of the dance scene, did you feel that being an attractive woman in the dance industry made it harder for you, because some people may have preferred you to be a video girl or dance in revealing clothing?
Actually, that opened up another avenue for me. With More Fire Cru's OI, when I auditioned with my group, we had to dance a whole dance routine to be considered for the video, but when we did the video we were just standing around and bubbling for the whole time. All they wanted was us to wear a flimsy little outfit on the top of a broken down hospital. All the guys came with their Avirex Jackets, hats and scarves, and we had to stand there in our flimsy outfits. You can see in the video how cold it was because they were shots of me wearing a jacket and ones without that I guess the editor didn't realise. It is really hard being a female in this industry because you have to be stern with people because people will make you do what you don't want to do.
How did you deal with that, or did embrace that and turn it into modelling?
To be honest, certain times in the industry you face certain challenges and certain obstacles, and sometimes you have to bite your tongue depending on what it is, and sometimes you can stand up for what you want. Everything doesn't always come to you as easy. I wasn't in the [More Fire Cru] video wearing lingerie doing a bedroom scene, at the time, ok I was wearing a dress that I would wear out to a rave, so I didn't feel uncomfortable wearing it. I was happy to be there, but like I said, at certain parts I was cold and I had to put my jacket on. That's where we, as women, stood up and said we were cold and put our jackets on, but we also knew they wanted sexy females do be dancing about. Sometimes you have to bite your tongue, but you know what's in it for the long run.
Talk me through the modelling industry, how hard is it to get in to? Did people try to change your look or make you appear more commercial?
Modelling over here is very hard unless you are size six, 5'8 minimum, you'/re not going to get into mainstream magazines because they are looking for particulars. So many girls think ‘I'm a model' because they've taken part in a photo shoot or two and taken a couple of pictures, there is so much more to it. From when I was younger, I learnt the steps, how to walk, how to sit down, how to take off my coat.You can't just stand there, you have to think of facial expressions, poses, and how you carry yourself. There are so many elements to it. I felt over here [UK], I did so much and got little recognition after so many years. Since I went to America so many things popped off for me, and it hurts because I want to represent London. Why should I have to go over there to prove I have the talent to succeed? Over here, they don't take risks or chances, but stick to what they know, if they don't it may not necessarily come back in their favour. It's been a good idea that I have taken myself elsewhere, like Estelle who has been here for many years, but when she got out there she was more successful in the UK. In the US there is a market for more curveacous models, and big women, it's kinda hard, because I haven't got the big booty, according to over there it's a bit small, but over here I've got too much meat to be on a runway.
How does race come into the modeling selection process?
Good question, to be honest, we all know the answer to that. We know that it's hard for a person of colour to try and get into the industry full stop. We heard about the black Vogue, so many people supported it, but at the same time we shouldn't just support the one issue. Why is it that they are just doing the one issue, they should be doing it more. There needs to be more avenues for people for black and ethnic minorities, as long you have the talent it should be there, but as you know, it's not, but times are changing and so are people.
Did you not feel disheartened by that?
Yes definitely, but at the same time everything happens when it does for a reason. I know that if I keep pushing forward, and reaching my goals, I can get where I want to be. When I went to see some of the designers for New York Fashion week, I hadn't received any responses, but I have to keep on trying and try again.
What's your top tips for success in the modeling industry?
On facebook, I get girls asking me how to get into it, so I ask them what type of modeling, and some of them don't know, they just wanna model! There are so many elements: commercial, editorial, glamour, high fashion etc. Any model out there needs to decide what exactly they want to do and to be honest with themselves and decide what they feel they can do. I know personally, I won't be able to be on a Milan catwalk because of my height, even though Kate Moss has done it, it's a very rare chance, you should still go for it, but be aware of what you can put yourself forward for. Get into that particular field and from there pick a specific agency and research the types of models that they go for, and question if you can see yourself in their catalogue of models, then you can put yourself forward. Modelling is a lot of research and investigation and background work before you can call yourself a model. There are so many [modelling] jobs I wish I could get, but looking at the criteria, it doesn't make sense but like I say ‘ sky is not the limit, if you can't see where it ends' and that's the motto I live by so go for your dreams.