Model pictured: Liam (Copyright: Zebedee Management with thanks to photographers Shelley Richmond, Sarah Folega, Danielle Richardson and Aaron Cheeseman)

What is Zebedee Management?

Zebedee Management is a new specialist talent agency whose models and actors all have disabilities – either learning or physical. Representing both children and adults. Their vision is to see people with disabilities fairly and sensitively represented in the media. Zebedee Management is currently working with retailers, advertising agencies and production companies to make this happen. They are looking for people in Manchester, London and surrounding areas to join their books and take part in a professional photo shoot. To apply, please email: zebedeemanagement@gmail.com

Meet the Team

Zebedee has been set up by Laura Johnson, a qualified social worker, and Zoe Proctor, a performing arts teacher for people with disabilities. They are passionate about seeing people with disabilities in the limelight, and are hopeful that the media and the general public are ready for this.

Laura has been working with vulnerable adults and children for the past 7 years. Setting up this agency sits perfectly with her personal and professional values; challenging discrimination, and working towards having a society that is more accepting of people with disabilities. Zoe has been a performing arts teacher and a model for over 20 years. Again, setting up Zebedee Management sits perfectly with her values, as well as having industry experience and understanding.

Model pictured: Sebastien

Model pictured: Sebastien (Copyright: Zebedee Management with thanks to photographers Shelley Richmond, Sarah Folega, Danielle Richardson and Aaron Cheeseman)

Laura said: “Fashion has started to be more representative in terms of seeing a broader range of ethnicities, and also seeing some more plus size models, but there is still a long way to go, and models with disabilities are still not fairly represented. We have started speaking to people in the industry, and the response has so far been positive. We can’t wait to start getting our first bookings!! There is no reason why a person with a disability can’t be part of a high end fashion campaign, or work as an actor on a soap opera, or be on a TV advert. We are aiming high, and would love to see one of our artists modelling for a client like Burberry or Stella McCartney, as well as the mainstream high street retailers like Next or Mothercare.

“I’m not sure why the industry has taken so long to start to consider a diverse range of models, but from speaking to the general public, most people say that they would be more likely to buy clothes or products from a company that uses ‘real people’ as its models. In addition, we believe that the more that people with varying needs and characteristics are seen in the media, the more that people will be accepting and understanding.

“Penny Mordaunt, Government minister for disabilities has just called on gaming, fashion and television to urgently increase their representation of people with disabilities. I hope that these industries listen to this request and the government continues to do more to see this actioned.

Model pictured: Celice (Copyright: Zebedee Management with thanks to photographers Shelley Richmond, Sarah Folega, Danielle Richardson and Aaron Cheeseman)

“Disability effects us all one way or another, whether directly, or whether we have a family or friend with a disability. There are over 11 million people in the UK with a limiting long term illness, impairment or disability which shows its prevalence and therefore how important it is for it to be represented in mainstream media.”

The story so far…

Zebedee have held photo-shoots to develop model’s portfolios up and down the country and are now looking to develop their Manchester area model base. They are working with some excellent photographers, as well as retailers who have provided outfit changes so that the models get a real feel for what is involved when working as a professional model.

Our Models

Zoe said: “We have so far met some absolutely stunning models who are wonderful in front of the camera. We have a broad selection of talent, both adult and children, with a selection of needs and abilities including Downs Syndrome, Cerebral Palsy, Global Developmental Delay, Autism, Tourettes, Spina Bifida and Sotos Syndrome

“That said, we do not want focus on people’s disabilities, and would prefer to consider their abilities and unique characteristics which will help promote a positive portrayal of diversity in the media.

“Unfortunately, disabled people remain significantly less likely to be in employment than non-disabled people, therefore, we hope that we are giving our models opportunities that they would not normally have.”

Model pictured: Sara (Copyright: Zebedee Management with thanks to photographers Shelley Richmond, Sarah Folega, Danielle Richardson and Aaron Cheeseman)

Jen, a parent of Sara, child model, talks about her experience with Zebedee Management: “I would say Zebedee have real guts which is powered by their passion, something which you don’t see often especially when it comes to children and adults with disabilities. They make the models them feel so at ease so quickly and encouraging them to participate in the shoots. It was so nice and refreshing to see them and the photographers talk to Sara as they would any other child. They didn’t show any hesitation just kindness which resulted in Sara feeling confident and comfortable straight away and enjoying her time being centre of attention having photos taken.

“We 100% back their vision to represent people with disabilities in the media. I want Sara to grow up being able to relate to photos, commercials, adverts etc and not feel like she and other people with disabilities are not worthy, not good enough. It isn’t shown enough in toys or reading materials. They have every right to live their lives like anyone else so why exclude them from the media?

“What they are doing is truly amazing and it fills my heart with joy so many people are so proud and are really rooting for success for Zebedee and all their models.

“As a family, it has given us hope for Sara’s future. There isn’t as much as you’d like for people with disabilities on offer as they get older. When I saw Sara having her photos taken I saw her getting into character with every clothes change and I loved seeing her simply enjoying herself and for the first time it made me think… this could be a career for her?? She could really make something of herself, it could give her so many more opportunities. And for as long as she enjoys it I will support it.

“Sara just takes it in her stride and often when asked if someone can take a picture for example on world book day she was straight into pose, she’s a quick learner I can’t wait to see her class photo!! We are so proud of her and she has a lot of support from family and friends.”

If anyone wants to book one of the Zebedee Managament models, please email zebedeemanagement@gmail.com with details of your request.

Further information can be found on Facebook and Twitter, or by visiting www.zebedeemanagement.co.uk.