When business senior MaKayla Washington isn’t attending classes, making music or juggling other extracurricular activities, she’s most likely modeling. She has worked with several local photographers and has been featured in fashion shows and magazines such as Voyage Dallas. However, her latest creative endeavors are centered around POSE, a UNT organization she established to empower other UNT creatives to practice their craft, network and learn about the industry.
Washington said she started modeling about a year ago after deciding to change her image. After she gained experience within the industry, she created POSE to help other creatives, such as models, photographers and stylists, learn about the industry and overcome some of the challenges of networking.
“I created POSE because it’s difficult for models out here,” Washington said. “When you’re just starting out, you don’t know who to go to and how to make connections. Let’s say you’re an aspiring model who goes to UNT but doesn’t know where to start, POSE is a place where you can start. “
After generating the idea for POSE, Washington enlisted the help of her friends, rehabilitation studies senior Sierra Haynes and biomedical engineering senior Skylar Williams to help her vision come to fruition.
“POSE started with my good friend MaKayla,” Williams said. “She came to me with an idea, and she started describing what UNT needed more of, which were things like modeling, fashion and an outlet for people to be creative and express themselves.”
Both Haynes and Williams said they believe POSE is an important organization because the platform is different than what UNT previously offered and has a positive impact on the community.
“I think it’s very unique,” Haynes said. “I don’t think there are any organizations around campus that promote creatives. It’s a platform where like-minded people can explore their talents. It’s good because everybody can have a place to fit in.”
For Washington, POSE is an organization that allows students to discover their individual gifts and express their talents.
“I feel like everyone has a creative talent or gift, they might just not know about it yet, but everybody has one,” Washington said. “I feel like we should express that because everybody has something to say in this world. Whether that be through pictures, singing or poetry, we all have something to say.”
Haynes says POSE has given her a space to grow both creatively and socially.
“I’m more of a behind-the-scenes type of person so I don’t say too much,” Haynes said. “I usually sit back and just observe, but learning how to interact with different individuals and being open-minded to different feedback and perspectives is really good because you never know what other people can bring to the table.”
Washington said she also believes POSE has allowed her to grow. She attributes her newfound confidence to her experience within the modeling industry. She hopes those who join POSE can learn about and gain confidence in their abilities.
“I want [creatives] to stop underestimating themselves and learn how to be the best photographer, stylist, model or makeup artist they can be,” Washington said. “I also want to make people get out of their comfort zones and to be confident in themselves and stand out and be different. You don’t have to be like everybody else — I’m definitely not like everybody else.”
Williams said POSE has granted her the skills to successfully pursue her creative endeavors in the future.
“It’ll give me a taste of how the modeling industry works and teach me about branding and entrepreneurship so that when I’m ready to create a brand or start a business I can use what I’ve learned in POSE to build off of that,” Williams said.
Washington’s organization has also inspired Haynes to take the skills she’s learned and pursue a similar project in the future.
“In the same way MaKayla has stepped up and empowered people to embrace their dreams and ideas, I hope to do the same thing with youth as well in every aspect,” Haynes said. “Just getting an idea and starting something that’ll help individuals grow within their skill set. Any way that I can help and assist.”
Washington encourages anyone who is interested in her organization to attend one of the biweekly meetings, which are held on Thursdays at 6:30 p.m.
“Everyone is welcome. Just be yourself, be creative and be interested,” Washington said. “We are here to help you and push you to be the best creative person that you can be.”
Featured Image: POSE founder Makalya Washington poses in the Administration Building on Jan. 13, 2020. POSE is a modeling organization at UNT. Image by Quincy Palmer