When she moved to Alaska as an adolescent, her goals of strutting down the runway pale.
On April 15 in Koreatown, she lastly had her probability. At 59, she was one of many youthful contestants in a Silver Fashions USA audition.
Dressed casually in a dishevelled white shirt and pale denims, she took a query from a choose: “How would you persuade somebody that you’ve got what it takes to be a mannequin?”
She addressed her reply to her son, Josh, who died in an accident 4 years in the past, when he was 29.
“Josh,” she declared, pausing for a second. “Mother can do it.”
Yoo’s odds of successful weren’t unhealthy. Of about 80 contestants, 20 to 30 could be chosen to work with Silver Fashions USA, beginning with a coaching program and progressing to runways at a trend present in Paris and on the Los Angeles Korean competition.
For these older Korean immigrants, the audition gives an opportunity to meet goals of glamorous careers they put aside as they labored to place meals on the desk of their adopted nation.
The demand for older fashions is rising within the Korean American neighborhood, as a booming senior inhabitants appears to be like for folks like themselves in commercials and trend exhibits.
Getting older child boomers have fueled the same development worldwide. Maye Musk, 74 — Elon’s mom — appeared on the duvet of Sports activities Illustrated’s 2022 swimsuit concern. A 106-year-old Apo Whang-Od lately went viral as the duvet mannequin for Vogue Philippines.
Silver Fashions USA, or SM USA for brief (no relation to Okay-pop behemoth SM Leisure), developed from a nonprofit to a full-fledged modeling company in January.
Co-founder Jenny Cho hopes to attach senior residents to alternatives starting from films to commercials for medical teams.
“They lived all their lives working onerous and struggling, with out their very own lives, with out their very own names,” Cho stated. “They’re attempting to problem themselves to allow them to stay a contented life.”
Yoo, who teaches English as a second language in Anchorage, stated she purchased her airplane ticket to L.A. 4 days earlier than the audition.
“In America, with a non-American face, I believed I couldn’t be a mannequin,” she stated. “However I need to do that for myself.”
Earlier than the audition, make-up artists and hairstylists utilized remaining touches for contestants ranging in age from 55 to 84.
Three girls practiced strutting in a hallway as an teacher clapped and barked directions, reminding them to not stroll too quick.
Company staffers disbursed suggestions: Look immediately into the digital camera. Be pure, however stroll ssig-ssig-ha-ge — bravely or confidently.
“I really feel like I’ve develop into a star,” a contestant quipped.
Tammie Cho, 66, of Stanton, who was a cafeteria employee for many years and is now an artwork instructor, stated her black mesh gown “makes me look a bit extra skinny.”
Jae Hoo Hwang, a 59-year-old physician of Korean medication from Hancock Park, selected a shiny gold gown “as a result of I need to stroll the kkok-gil” — a path crammed with flowers.
“I have to shine to stroll that path,” she stated.
The six judges included an actor, a designer of conventional hanboks and a health care provider from occasion sponsor Seoul Medical Group.
“We need to perceive the contestants’ motivation and keenness,” stated John Go, a choose and a senior mannequin himself. “We will see immediately if somebody has the expertise.”
The occasion started with contestants strutting throughout the ballroom to digital instrumental music as digital camera operators captured their each transfer.
Judges requested wide-ranging questions, from how do you keep skinny to how typically do you put on a swimsuit.
“I don’t actually put on a swimsuit,” a male contestant answered. “I put on golf garments extra typically.”
After her audition, Seonghee Jung struck up a dialog with Sharon Kim, who’s already working as a senior mannequin for SM USA.
Jung, 56, studied theater on the Seoul Institute of the Arts, the place she was a hubae, or youthful classmate, of Kim, 62, who studied dance.
“If you happen to see me from behind, folks inform me I seem like I’m 20,” stated Jung, a former preschool instructor who’s a homemaker in Palm Springs.
Jung dabbled in modeling in Los Angeles within the early Nineties. Now, she has her fingers full caring for her mom, who’s sick. She hesitated about auditioning, however Kim’s success impressed her.
She utilized secretly, telling her mom that she was going to see a pal.
“I actually need to do that. … If I maintain pushing this off, I really feel like I’d not have the ability to do that,” she stated. “After I placed on make-up, I’ve develop into extra assured. I really feel like I’m a special individual.”
Rising up in South Korea, Grace Ju appeared like a mannequin — folks known as her “Miss Korea.” Her son fashions in Korea.
Ju, 55, who lives in Koreatown, got here to the U.S. a decade in the past on the invitation of her older sister, who was on the audition to cheer her on.
She considered her 89-year-old mom, who’s in a hospital in L.A.
“Earlier than my mom closes my eyes, I need to present her my finest self,” Ju stated. “I need to present her how we are able to come to this huge nation and stay otherwise.”
After about 4 hours of auditions, it was time for the ultimate stroll down the catwalk, that includes each hopefuls and present fashions, with Lizzo’s “About Rattling Time” blaring.
The winners can be chosen in a couple of weeks.
Yoo strutted towards her daughter, Paulina, who snapped cellphone photographs.
‘She has by no means accomplished one thing like this,” stated Paulina, who flew in from Denver. “I didn’t assume she would really do it. … It made me pleased watching her do it.”