Model Q&A: Cortasia Mariah

Cortasia Mariah | VIP Member | Verified Credits (4)

Model: Cortasia Mariah (self-portrait)

Where are you from? Where are you based now and do you travel for shoots?

I was born in Seattle, Washington, but I spent the majority of my life in Southern California. I’m currently back in Seattle where I’m a full-time tech student and working as a paid intern. I love traveling for photoshoots. Before the pandemic, I took a few weekends and school break trips to Los Angeles and Hawaii for modeling jobs. I’m planning a work tour of several US states and Europe when travel become safe again. I miss shooting so much!

Who or what inspired you to become a model?

I watched America’s next top model as a kid, and I was inspired by the grit and determination that some of the girls had to make it in the industry. I’ve always been inspired by photography as well and that passion is still strong in me. My family knows me as “the selfie queen,” and lately, while sheltering in place, I’ve started playing around with taking actual self-portraits using my iPhone 11, a timer, and lights. Some of the results have been pretty good (see above) but I still have a lot to learn.

Model: Cortasia Mariah; Photographer: Neon Tiger Photo

How and when did you start modeling?

In March of last year, a casting director found me on Instagram and reached out about a reality show TV project she thought I’d be good for. The show didn’t pan out but she stayed in touch and had very encouraging words about my modeling potential. I was shy at first and didn’t think it was for me, but after much reassurance, I decided to go for it and in July of last year I was fortunate to book my first swimwear shoot in Hawaii on the beautiful island of Kauai.

What type of modeling do you enjoy the most?

I love being part of a photographer’s artistic vision and being able to contribute to the process. As for styles, I gravitate towards the urban look and I love swimwear modeling. Nothing beats being on a beautiful beach, playing in the water, just being me and having fun. However, one small problem is that I can’t swim. I’ve never had a lesson and I have a fear of big bodies of water. Shooting on the beach in the ocean has been a great form of therapy for me.

I also love the boudoir genre. My recent session with the photographer, Robert Bliss, at Lavish Studios in LA was super fun and high-energy. I was humbled and blessed that two captures from our shoot won Model Mayhem’s POTD contest. I come alive in front of the camera. I love picking out wardrobe, doing my own makeup and hair, or when there’s a stylist that’s even more fun. I enjoy watching and learning when great hairstylists, makeup artists, and wardrobe people practice their craft. I try to be a sponge on every set and soak up as much knowledge as possible.

Model: Cortasia Mariah; Photographer: Neon Tiger Photo

What do you look for when deciding to work with a photographer?

I look for a signature style. In my opinion, the best shooters always have a unique quality to their portfolio that stands out in a definitive way. I study the Model Mayhem POTD winners and runners up for inspiration and I’ve begun to be able to tell who the individual photographers are just by their photo’s look and quality.

Which models or other artists currently inspire you?

I’m naturally busty and initially, I didn’t think that I’d be able to do some of the more traditional styles of modeling, so following the careers of full figure trailblazers like Ashley Graham, Charlotte McKinney, Audrey Ritchie, and Kate Upton has helped me to realize that great models come in all shapes and sizes. I also take inspiration studying the history of some of the amazing African American models past and present, like Beverly Johnson, Tyra Banks, Chanel Iman, and India Love, to name just a few.

Model: Cortasia Mariah; Photographer: Images of Bliss

What would be your dream shoot?

I love sunny weather and beautiful scenery, so off the top of my head, Jamaica comes to mind. I loved shooting on the islands of Kauai and Maui and I will definitely go back any time the opportunity presents itself. I would love to shoot a ‘stranded on a deserted island’ style shoot. Think ripped clothes but still sexy, maybe some camouflage. A little bit of masculinity but still very feminine. I also love shooting in animal prints, so anything in a jungle, out in the wild would really be fun for me.

How important is social media in your success?

I feel that social media is highly important. Getting your face known and out there is the first step. There are so many different types of models and so many people who do the same thing that you need to stand out, and social media can help you do that. You need to gain the following and supporters who are willing to come along on your journey and grow with you. I never saw social media as the tool that it is until I started modeling. Now I see the power of cross-promoting my content on the various platforms. For example, people go from my Model Mayhem page to watch my behind the scenes videos on Vimeo and from there they often link to my Instagram or Facebook to see more or to present me with a job offer. So yes, I think it is of the utmost importance to keep social media popping on all levels.

Model: Cortasia Mariah; Photographer: Images of Bliss

What else do you like to do outside of modeling?

I enjoy going to live shows, dining out, and hanging with my friends and especially my family. Family experiences bring out my inner joy and happiness. I really like roller skating too and I try to hit the rink with my mom every weekend possible.

What’s the best career advice you can give to new models?

Practice, practice, practice. I’m pretty new at this myself but I will say that time in front of the lens is very important. Learn by watching great models and how they connect with the camera, then copy their moves. Take a lot of selfies from all angles and get feedback from people you trust about when you look your best. Seek out photographers or friends with whom you feel comfortable and who won’t mind shooting a hundred plus shots in a session, then pick out the best images and determine what makes them good so you can replicate the look. It’s also important to be careful out there. The majority of photographers are good people but you need to carefully vet who you will be working with; contact references, check their links and social media pages, get their real name and use Google or do a background check. Lastly, have fun when you shoot. If you’re having fun it will come through in the photographs and often makes the difference between a good capture and a great one.

Check out Cortasia Mariah’s Model Mayhem portfolio to see more of her work. You can also follow her on Instagram, Facebook, and Vimeo.

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3 Responses to “Model Q&A: Cortasia Mariah”

  1. May 23, 2020 at 2:20 pm, Robert Vahle said:

    Wow, She is all there. Wishing you all the best.


  2. May 23, 2020 at 8:17 am, Haskell Jules said:

    Cool article about another way of being in this industry. Many times by accident


  3. May 20, 2020 at 3:16 pm, Ronald Warner Photography said:

    Great interview Cortasia, I hope you can make to NYC when this madness is over. I would love to work with you.

    All the best to you;



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