Transcript for Oriane
Kelly Bron Johnson (00:03):
Welcome to this episode of the intersections on the spectrum podcast. The intersections on the spectrum podcast is the brainchild of Doug Blecher and Kelly Bron Johnson created to discuss intersectional issues within the autistic community and give visibility to commonly marginalized, repressed, underrepresented, or erased identities and issues. We aimed to introduce you to the people and stories you didn't know about, but needed to hear and hope that by seeing yourself represented in the community, allows you to feel seen.
Doug Blecher (00:34):
We are pleased to welcome Oriane Toguem to today's episode. Thanks so much for joining us.
Oriane Toguem (00:43):
No problem. Thank you for inviting.
Doug Blecher (00:45):
Absolutely. And just kind of starting out, like what, what would you say are the identities that you're most connected with?
Oriane Toguem (00:55):
I'm most connected with, besides my disability, my heritage like being Cameroonian American, being born to Cameroonian immigrants was wasn't easy for me at first, but I've learned to embrace it and I've actually learned to love myself.
Kelly Bron Johnson (01:14):
Wonderful. So now you're a model and you're working with a talent agency that fits your needs and that can only help your career for sure. So you're represented by C talent and lead talent agency. These, can you talk about working with C talent in particular, especially in regards to their mission of representing, uh, high profile deaf and disabled talent.
Oriane Toguem (01:37):
Working with C talent I never thought I would was something I never expected. Like I knew I wanted to be famous. I knew I wanted to work with cause in the past I've ran to talent into talent management companies that just wanted my money. So when C talent reached out to me, I was grateful. I was happy.
I was excited, told my mom, we had to, we had a meeting with them and everything went well. And because of them, I'm actually signed with Lily's agency. Some things didn't work out with, with C talent, but I wouldn't have any other way couldn't have asked for any, for better talent manage managers.
Doug Blecher (02:21):
And how did, how did they learn about you initially C talent?
Oriane Toguem (02:27):
The talent manager at the time. Elizabeth so thankful for her. She's saw my social media on Instagram, which is the power of social media. And she emailed me back then when I didn't have a business email, I was grateful. I, it was a miracle that was able to, to find her email. I looked at all her, their successes with C talent. I was like, huh, let's give it a try.
Doug Blecher (02:57):
Now, you know, this is far from the industry, but unfortunately there's been lots of stories of black women who were not paid the same amount as their white counterparts for modeling jobs. What's been your experience in getting paid for modeling jobs that you've been hired for?
Oriane Toguem (03:18):
Well, as I haven't had that much modeling jobs, one modeling job I had was through Lilly's for the runway, promoting black own businesses and designers. They treated me equally. They treated me fairly.
Kelly Bron Johnson (03:34):
Okay. That's, that's good to hear. It's it's always difficult to get proper compensation now. Also, I find that, well, I, to our perception modeling jobs, or even walking the runway can be kind of overwhelming with all the lights, a lot of noise there's cameras, there's clothes that you're wearing that might not be
what you're used to. So how do you feel what, what's the sensory impact of you when you're doing this job? What's it like?
Oriane Toguem (03:59):
It could be crazy sometimes, but I'm just grateful. Cause I spent years wanting to be a model. I spent years wanting to do this and being underestimated have not having a lot of people believe in you. I had some people believe, but most people did not
Doug Blecher (04:18):
Now in like kind of overwhelming situations like that, you know, sometimes it can be really helpful to kind of plan for some of those things. Do you have any advice for people that want to model, but you know, like are concerned about dealing with the lights and camera and those types of things?
Oriane Toguem (04:38):
My, my question first, I would ask them how bad do you want it? Because if you're not willing to like pay the fees for photo shoots to build your portfolio, to get a job, then that means you didn't want it bad enough. And to love themselves because confidence is everything. You can have the best body the most prettiest space and the longest hair. But if you don't and the height, even the height for it, but if you
don't have the confidence for it doesn't mean anything.
Kelly Bron Johnson (05:04):
So you have become this international American nation 2021 as well as featured in Italian Vogue. Do you feel that there have been any benefits to you being autistic that has helped you in the modelling world, maybe that has given you an advantage in some way?
Oriane Toguem (05:22):
Yes. Because you don't hear that all the time. And even though I may not look, I may not look, even though autistic doesn't have a look, you can't tell, look at someone and tell her they have a disability or not.
Kelly Bron Johnson (05:37):
So that kind of almost gives you a bit more of a level playing field to some extent.
Doug Blecher (05:43):
I I'm interested in modelling the perspective of it's seems like at least in some parts it's a job where there isn't necessarily, you have to have a lot of spoken communication. Do, how do you feel like that type of job has helped you, particularly from your autistic identity?
Oriane Toguem (06:06):
Oh, it's encouraged me and pushed me to step outta my comfort zone because I'm a homebody. Like I don't go to clubs. I don't go to family oriented parties. I may hang out with my friends, but I don't go to clubs or, you know what I mean?
Kelly Bron Johnson (06:27):
That helps to not get taken up in some of the negative aspects of, uh, the lifestyle as well. Right. If you're not partying and stuff, you can stay away from some of the trouble.
Oriane Toguem (06:36):
Doug Blecher (06:41):
In addition to being a model, you are an opera singer. So what is it about opera that made you say, I wanna do this?
Oriane Toguem (06:55):
It all started when I did an open mic and when I sang a French song, it sounded, it was, it wasn't an opera, but my voice sounds operatic, so I thought, Hmm, why don't I do opera? And I started lessons for it. Wasn't cuz I wasn't sure I'd be good at it. Wasn't sure I'd be good at it. So I took lessons for it .
Doug Blecher (07:15):
And like, so how, like how did those lessons help you? Because I heard, um, you sing in a video and you were really good. So I'm just curious, like how long did it take you to kind of get to that point through lessons?
Oriane Toguem (07:31):
I would say I wasn't really paying attention. So I would say about six months.
Kelly Bron Johnson (07:36):
I just wanted to ask, um, being from of Cameroonian heritage, do you all speak French?
Oriane Toguem (07:43):
No. Oh my English, my parents do. My dad did while he was still alive and my mom does, my mom speaks three, actually French, English and Bati.
Kelly Bron Johnson (07:56):
I was wondering if that's how, why you chose a French song?
Oriane Toguem (07:58):
Kelly Bron Johnson (08:02):
So I also read, so you you're very accomplished. So I've also read that you're also, uh, you want to be a disability and anti-bullying advocate. So sadly we know that many autistic people have been bullied through their lives, you know, including me. So what are some things that help you deal with any bullying and harassment that you've dealt with?
Oriane Toguem (08:25):
I would say whenever a guy was whenever we would call me ugly, the way I handle it was not the best way it was not. And it could have gotten me in trouble and I regret that. But even though he was so rude, cuz cuz easier, you're not mad me about it. And now then when I was older, every time I guy would bully me, I would tell the teacher.
Kelly Bron Johnson (08:47):
Do you have any advice for other people going through a similar problem or how did you, how did you overcome some of these issues yourself?
Oriane Toguem (08:58):
However, I went through counselling and they told me that it says a lot about who they are and not who you are.
Kelly Bron Johnson (09:04):
Right. I gonna say that's just inspiring. I, I think that you're very inspiring for all the work that you're doing and what you continue to keep doing. I'm not sure what Doug was gonna ask, but I just wanted to ask you how can people find you if people want to connect with you and learn more about you?
Oriane Toguem (09:23):
Well, through social media you have asked appropriate questions. Do not, cuz I get those inboxes from people want me from sugar daddies. I'm like, oh gosh, like if I want money, I'll get a myself.
Kelly Bron Johnson (09:36):
Doug Blecher (09:37):
Lastly, you know, we try to share and highlight a lot of important stories like yours. What type of stories would you like to hear from, um, in the future from a podcast like this?
Oriane Toguem (09:55):
That's a good question. I'm not really sure.
Doug Blecher (10:05):
That's all right. Well, you know, we really appreciate your time. Thanks so much for, um, spending the time with us to today.
Oriane Toguem (10:15):
Thank you. And I thank you so much that I met you guys and thank you for inviting me.