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Lana Ogilvie – She’s Real, She’s Resilient

Ogilvie gets raw about her thirty year career.

She gets raw about her 30-year career

NameLana OgilvieBirthplaceToronto, OntarioEthnic OriginGreneda, JamaicaOccupationsCommercial Model, Founder of Lana Ogilvie Cosmetics, Jewelry Designer at Sabre JewelryWebsitelanaogilvie.comShare

Fact checked by Charmaine Gooden

When 23-year-old Lana Ogilvie signed an exclusive contract with CoverGirl in 1992, it was a historic moment for both CoverGirl and the fashion industry. She the first Black model ever to do so.

Ogilvie’s dear friend and former PR Agent, Kevin Pennant, describes her as, “a visionary businesswoman who has always wanted to set an example for other businesswomen.” It’s been approximately 30 years since she signed that contract and she’s been an unstoppable force ever since. Among her many accomplishments, she’s also travelled the world and worked for Vogue, ELLE, Cosmopolitan, Harper’s Bazaar, Grazia, Macy’s, DKNY, Madame and more.

But for Ogilvie, who didn’t know much about fashion, becoming a model had, as she explains, “less to do with a love of fashion and more to do with earning money and becoming financially independent.”

Flare Magazine, January 1990

Early Life and Career

Ogilvie was born and raised in Toronto. When she was 18, she was scouted by Ford Models at a high school fashion show and moved to New York.

Her interest in modelling was first piqued when she was told by several people, that she resembled a family friend who was a model. “I was like,’wow, she’s making some money, maybe I could do that in the summer,'” shares Ogilvie.

She began her career doing editorial work, and has been featured in Flare Magazine as well as beauty in ELLE. She was doing well in terms of getting coverage, but, she remembers, “I didn’t make any money until I was about 22,” adding, “I couch surfed and lived in friends’ apartments.”

 

 

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Back in the ‘90s, Ogilvie had to sue an agent in order to get paid and had to let another agent go for not having her back. And it was tricky figuring out these problems and issues on her own.

Ogilvie entered the industry at a young age with little knowledge of how things worked and there was no one she could really turn to. There were predatory aspects she wished she could have spoken to someone about.

“There’s a union for actors and I think models need one too,” she explains. “There are no hard and fast rules about percentage cuts, backstage practices, payments or even something as basic as a lunch break,” adds Ogilvie.

#MeToo and media coverage of these problematic industry issues have helped alleviate some of the problems, but they still exist. Back in the ‘90s, Ogilvie had to sue an agent in order to get paid and had to let another agent go for not having her back. And it was tricky figuring out these problems and issues on her own.

Breaking Barriers

Noticing that she worked more shows in the summer and was barely getting booked in the winter, Ogilvie, spoke to her agent. “I was told they don’t want Black girls as much for the winter season. It wasn’t explicit racism I was experiencing,” Ogilvie recalls. “It was more a case of some micro-aggressions that accumulated under the pretense of ’creative vision’, which is hard to call out.”

While this often happens in the case of shows and editorial gigs, it does also occur with commercial work. On one occasion, a makeup artist expected Lana to bring her own supply of various shades of base makeup, but on the flip side, provided a display for white models.

Some clients anticipated she would bring her own wigs. In another instance, Ogilvie recalls receiving a call from her agency after a client called to complain, saying her hair was “difficult.” “My hair isn’t difficult,” she says, “it’s hair, it’s  inanimate. The thing is, it’s Black hair and they hired someone inadequate for the job,” she continues.

Ogilvie chooses not to buy from the designers for whom she went through those experiences. “They don’t represent me,” she tells us. “If you can’t have someone who looks like me in your advertising or walking your runway, you aren’t for me.” Once she signed with CoverGirl, she decided to stop doing shows.

Contrary to popular belief, being chosen to be the face of CoverGirl was not a snap decision. It was a lengthy process filled with months of test photography, ads and focus groups, but it was well worth it. “It was an amazing opportunity,” she says. “One of the biggest things I’ve done in my career.”

Influence and Legacy

Ogilvie didn’t consider modelling a long-term career option when she first entered the industry. “Back in the ‘90s, it was expected to be over at the age of 25,” she explains. “Things are a lot more inclusive now when it comes to age, size and ethnicity.”

An entrepreneur at heart, in addition to modelling and her CoverGirl deal in the early 2000s, Ogilvie was also a segment producer and on-camera host for Fashion Television. These days she continues to work freelance catalogue jobs, while also running Lana Ogilvie Cosmetics and working as a Jewelry Designer at Sabre Jewelry.

Kevin Pennant, Ogilvie’s friend and former PR agent tells us she has always had big visions and a desire to reinvent herself. “It took her four years and a lot of hard work to build the Lana Ogilvie brand from scratch, but she was finally able to launch it in 2019,” Pennant says proudly.

As someone with eczema and sensitive skin, she has always been big on skincare. She attended an online organic botanic formulation school to understand ingredients. “Establishing the business was a really difficult process, but skincare is something I’ve always felt passionate about,” she shares. “Plus I was also looking to branch out and expand my career options.”   

Lana Ogilvie has always stayed true to herself and her beliefs, even when it Isn’t appreciated or convenient. “I have always spoken up and called out anyone or anything inappropriate or unsafe,“ she adds. “I’ve never compromised my standards ever, and I never will.”

“It was more a case of some micro-aggressions that accumulated under the pretense of ’creative vision’, which is hard to call out.”

About the authors:

Over the years Prof. Gooden has built a multi-media career as an editor, writer, presenter, public relations consultant and special event manager, spokesperson, host, and educator. She...

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Over the years Prof. Gooden has built a multi-media career as an editor, writer, presenter, public relations consultant and special event manager, spokesperson, host, and educator. She...

Read More

About the author:

Over the years Prof. Gooden has built a multi-media career as an editor, writer, presenter, public relations consultant and special event manager, spokesperson, host, and educator. She...

Read More

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