By Katelynn Whitaker
Everyone knows the modeling industry is cutthroat. So what’s the secret to becoming a major modeling industry exec while still managing to keep a sense of humor? Ask former stand-up comic and LA native Crista Sides Klayman, who heads the runway division of LA Models and has an unmistakable eye for the next beautiful thing.
LOS ANGELES CONFIDENTIAL: You started out as a stand-up comic. How did you decide to switch gears and become a modeling agent?
CRISTA SIDES KLAYMAN: From an early age I knew I wanted to be in Hollywood. Growing up in Hawthorne and taking La Brea over the hill into Hollywood made me feel alive. I decided to leave college and attend acting school. I met an entertainer, traveled with him and decided to give stand-up comedy a try. When our relationship ended, I returned to a Westwood restaurant where I had previously worked and befriended a patron whose modeling agent/girlfriend needed an assistant.
LAC: You’ve been with LA Models approximately 20 years and have built the runway division from the ground up. What’s been your key to success?
CSK: I think integrity is the true basis for success. You have to be a person of your word, and both models and clients have to trust you. I live each day in a place of respect for my clients, models, coworkers, family, friends and self.
LAC: You’ve also been influential in the careers of supermodels such as Tyra Banks, among others. How do you spot who the next big talent will be?
CSK: You never know what the next great “look” will be, so I go on my instincts. I know talent and beauty when I see it, and as a sort of “coach,” I strive to help each model meet his or her highest potential.
LAC: LA Fashion Week has struggled to make a name for itself. Why do you think having this event is important to Los Angeles?
CSK: Fashion Week brings a buzz to LA. It’s good for business because people often think only New York and Europe have the best designers and models. But LA has some of the greatest designers around. I think there are a lot of people ignorant to the fact that LA—with or without Fashion Week—is a thriving fashion market.