For years, I blamed my mother for my prematurely white hair. Ever since high school, when the first wisps of white appeared at my temples, I hated our shared genetic flaw. I can’t count how many hours, and dollars, I wasted dying, frosting and reverse highlighting what eventually turned out to be one of my mother’s greatest gifts to me.

In my early 50’s, when my white hair gradually refused to be hidden for longer than three weeks at a time, I decided that I had way better things to do with my time than spend hours in the hairdresser’s chair every few weeks.  I gave up the fight and embraced the white.

Not long after, while in New York, I was approached by a woman who invited me along to a casting call for a well known cosmetic company. She said she liked my look. Always the skeptical New Yorker, I thanked her for her kind words and escaped down 5th Avenue before she could try to sell me anything. But the following day, on my flight back to Denver, I began to wonder if she might actually have been serious. Maybe there really was a call for white haired models? Someone had to be in those ads for retirement homes and dental adhesive. I signed on with a local talent agency in Denver to try my luck.

While I haven’t been deluged with offers, I have managed to get a couple of jobs each year. The demand may be low but the pool of talent is small and the competition far from fierce. Casting directors expect young models to have perfect hair, perfect skin and perfect bodies. For my age group, their expectations are low. If you have white hair and you’re mobile, you’re in.

At a recent casting call, I was asked if I could ride a bike, ski and/or snow shoe and did I have equipment for any of those. When I replied “yes” to all of the above, the young casting assistant looked genuinely impressed.

“Wow!” she exclaimed.

I wasn’t too sure about that wow.  Was it  “Wow, I can’t believe you’re just what we’re looking for”?  Or, more likely, “Wow, how adorable that someone your age still owns athletic equipment!” Not that it mattered really.  As long as I’m paid for my time, I can be whatever version of senior citizen they’re looking for.

Working with older models can be a challenge for the crew.  The young photographer for the craft magazine asked me to pose at the window, with my hand resting on the window sill to capture the late afternoon light. As he zoomed in on the intricate embroidery on the cuff of my blouse, I noticed how old and decrepit my hand looked.  My veins had become engorged, creating a puffy roadmap weaving its way through a sprinkling of brown age spots. The photographer had seen the effect of gravity on my veins and it was obvious that it was not the look he was trying for. Too polite to insult someone who reminded him of his granny, he just stood there, looking awkward and uncomfortable.  I needed to think fast to save us both from further embarrassment.

“Would the light be better if I rested my hand up higher, like this?” I asked.

I slid my hand higher along the window frame, elevating it higher than my heart and allowing the blood to flow back out of my bulging veins.  Now the embroidery stitches would be the most prominent feature in the photo and my hand could fade into the background where it belonged.

“Oh yes,” he agreed.  “The light is much better that way.”

We both pretended it was all about the light.  At my age, it often is all about the light.

If you are looking for excitement and glamour, you won’t find it modeling as the granny on the set.  But, if you are looking for a fun way to spend a few hours and earn a few dollars, you should give it a try.  You never know when a casting director may decide that you have just the look he needs to sell senior living centers or walk-in bath tubs.  Just please don’t try the Denver market.  I’ve already got it covered.






About Carol Bryant

Hi. My name is Carol Bryant. I'm a transplanted New Yorker, living in the shadows of the Rocky Mountains. While it was skiing that initially drew me to Colorado, it's been the laid-back, outdoor lifestyle which has kept me here for nearly 30 years. I'm a writer, nurse, travel agent and mediocre tennis player. I began my writing career 20 years ago, writing essays and magazine articles. Recently, I completed my first manuscript and am currently seeking representation for this work. It's a memoir of my nursing career which spans two continents, forty years and some of the most intriguing characters who have ever entered a hospital. I’ve been told that if I ever hope to have my memoir published, I need to establish a platform – a following of readers who enjoy my writing. So, I am shamelessly asking for you to become part of that platform. I plan to blog on various topics that I find entertaining. If you are entertained, moved to cry or laugh out loud, then I have accomplished what I have set out to do. I feel as if I am taking that first, timid step out onto the frozen lake, hoping that the ice will hold me. It’s scary as hell but I’ll give it a go. After some of the things I have faced down in my 40 years of nursing, how bad can blogging be? It beats shaving scrotums.
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  1. Diane Huling says:

    That is GREAT!!  Thanks for sending it. 

    — Sent from Mailbox

    On Wed, Dec 17, 2014 at 10:42 AM, carolbryantblog


  2. Virginia Smith says:

    A nice read today! In fact you inspired me to do the same thing here in Sydney, and I have been enjoying the occasional job too. Go supermodel!


  3. Phil B says:

    You were too modest to mention that it doesn’t hurt to be beautiful to be chosen for the bulk of modeling jobs. But like you said, it’s a good way to pick up extra cash, and you never know what look they are after.


  4. Peter Thorburn says:

    How wonderful to gladden our hearts with another extremely entertaining & enjoyable blog after a short break. You have the blogging thing covered too, and not just in Denver! Judging from your previous amusing critiques about diapers and nurses gifts, the long awaited golden grandchild has arrived, and you have been far too distracted to blog for far too long a time. Keep up the modelling work; you may yet have to pay for the gkids’ education expenses (unless they also have your good looks and white hair)


  5. Pingback: NEVER TOO OLD TO GIVE IT A GO | carolbryantblog

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