Anne Therese Gennari is the co-founder of Role Models Management, an ethical modeling agency that represents mission-driven models. Brands who want their products and services to be represented by humans with a strong voice and point of view, not just a pretty face, are her clients.
With apparel being the second-most polluting industry behind oil, activism within the fashion industry is not just impactful, but also glamorous. As pop culture icons, models have the unique ability to influence culture. What they do, we all want to do. Where they are, we all want to be.
So despite historically being the silent face of a brand, the potential for models to change culture is limitless. We wanted to hear Anne Therese's thoughts on how making activism fashionable can help lead us to a post-consumerist society with higher values.
Above: Anne Therese is an avid hiker and camper.
Tell us a little about you. Where are you from? What do you like to do for fun?
I’m from southwest of Sweden, from a small town called Halmstad. I grew up by the ocean and have always felt a sense of sanity and healing when I’m close to the sea. To be honest, my absolute favorite thing to do for fun is to hike up in the mountains for hours on end - like, full days.
Nothing is more satisfying that putting one foot in front of the other, breathing in clean air, and occasionally stopping for a snack or animal spotting. However, living in NYC it’s hard to do this frequently, so I’ll have to settle for morning walks in Central Park for now — I am incredibly grateful to be living so close to the park!
I also love to read, cook, and be creative just for fun.
Above: Anne Therese is a frequent guest on podcasts and produces her own called Hey Change, focusing on positive and inspiring reactions to the climate crisis.
Who or what helped you rise above the idea that a model is just a face/body for hire, and embrace your influence on culture?
I started modeling with the idea that it would provide me with a platform where I could speak my voice, naive in my thoughts that this was how it worked. But thrown into the industry I soon learned that it was anything but, and I felt a huge disconnection from my mission.
I didn’t know change was coming but I had a sense that it was and I wanted to help nurture that change and be part of a new kind of industry. I thought that there must be other models out there feeling the same way, who wanted to use their voices and platforms to do good, and so the idea of an ethical modeling agency was born.
Turned out I was right, and since our inception in 2017 we’ve met with and on-boarded a lot of mission driven, strong models who want to help better the world.
Above: Together with members of Model Mafia, a community of hundreds of activism-minded models, Anne Therese helped raise awareness for the 2019 youth climate strike months in advance of the international event. Framing it as an event not to be missed by anyone who's anyone helped fashion lovers discover their inner activist.
Activism is having a moment where it's now trendy — how can we ensure it never goes out of style, especially with generational amnesia being a factor?
Great question! But I honestly don’t think activism will go out of style, not as long as we do it authentically and with intention. Activism brings joy and a sense of satisfaction, it’s like a rebel sanity that we’re out doing the change we want to see in the world. It’s the opposite of apathy, or amnesia if you will, and when we do things out of good, we feel good! And honestly, I don’t think anything that feels good will go out of style. I think (I hope) activism is here to stay!
Above: Anne Therese says, "I call myself a stubborn climate optimist because I truly believe that a world filled with mission driven, passionate human citizens can get this right."
People today tend to define themselves by what they consume — and often times it's exclusive products or experiences that are too expensive for the masses to buy that have the most cache. How do you envision fashion and pop culture will look in a less-consumerist world where we have embraced higher values?
We currently define ourselves by what we consume because that is what pop culture, marketing firms, and brands have wanted us to do. We are brought up in a world where consumerism means status and acceptance, where having more and newer things is considered “cool”. However, as awareness grows and change is more or less forced upon us, that will all be flipped on its head. I believe we will soon face a time where it’s actually cool to have lesser and better things, and where recirculation of goods is the new norm. I don’t think we can fully comprehend what we’re in for here, but it’s going to be a huge paradigm shift and everything is about to take a new form. I’m known to be a stubborn climate optimist and that is exactly the outlook I have for the future - I stubbornly believe that we can all change, and that we will find ourselves having a great deal of fun doing so!
Thanks to Anne Therese for sharing her story with us. Follow her @annetheresegennari