Many Americans wake up every morning to head to the typical office job – filing papers, answering phone calls, dealing with creepy bosses and trying to fix copy machines that only occasionally work. But occupations without these difficulties do exist. Imagine an office filled with beautiful women and statuesque men. William Ball, a 2009 Temple alumnus, is the head booker for Wilhelmina Philadelphia, and for him, that office is a reality.
As part of a prominent U.S. modeling agency with locations across the country and associations with Vogue and “America’s Next Top Model,” Ball serves an important role, searching for diamonds in the rough of the modeling industry.
But this was not Ball’s original idea of a dream job.
“I wanted my own late-night talk show or [to] screen write,” Ball said. “After college, I decided to pursue acting in Philly. Being part of the Philadelphia film scene helped [me] make so many connections with the movers and shakers that run this city.”
Not long after his acting pursuit, Ball took on an internship with Philadelphia’s Expressions Model and Talent Agency. Immersing himself in the fashion industry then was essential to his current career in the modeling business.
“I would just read stacks of Vogues and GQs,” he said. “I wanted to know as much as I could about the market I was trying to get into.”
At this point, Ball said, he was able to work with other actors and models to get a lot of the experience he needed. In this time, he became comfortable with the local market and started to gain confidence when it came to understanding clients’ wants, he said.
It didn’t take much time until Wilhelmina scooped up Ball’s talent.
Ball said the agency picked him up because he knew so much about the Philadelphia fashion market. Now that he has snagged a prominent position in the company, Ball’s responsibilities relate to modeling and scoping out new talent.
“My main job is to provide models and actors to the Philly market,” Ball said. “Our goal is to nurture the actors and models so they might get signed to one of our bigger offices like New York.”
Despite Wilhelmina’s larger offices being in New York and Los Angeles, Ball said Philadelphia is changing and becoming another major fashion hub, much like the traditional U.S. fashion hotspots.
“Fashion is very up-and-coming in Philly,” Ball said. “From Philadelphia Fashion Week to our events with Saks Fifth Avenue, people are starting to take Philly seriously.”
Ball already has some signed models from his office who have been catching the eyes of major designers, such as Tommy Hilfiger. With that kind of success also came various perks.
“It’s fun to get VIP treatment and throw events with celebrities, like ‘Project Runway’s’ Tim Gunn,” he said. “You get to meet a lot of interesting people.”
Knowing many students would love to party with celebrities after graduation, Ball divulged his secret to his success: The key to any job is to constantly develop oneself and be willing to take risks, he said.
Every learning experience will be beneficial, he added, because it can teach someone what did and didn’t work.
“[Taking risks means] jumping in wherever you can, but be organized,” Ball said. “Bust your ass.”
Although Ball has worked hard and taken the risks needed to attain his position, he still has many goals for himself and Wilhelmina Philadelphia.
“This office is still really young,” Ball said. “I just want it to grow.”
Jasmine Offor can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.