Hannah Mussette: Q&A
By TADHI COULTER
In light of recent civil & racial unrest around the world, particularly in the United States, this series timestamps the perspectives, experiences and desires of a current selection of talent represented by the Marilyn Agency.
TC: Have you, a loved one, or friend experienced discrimination? Describe that experience or combination thereof.
Hannah Mussette. Yes, me and some of my friends have experienced discrimination in different ways. Whether it be on set for a job, or walking into a casting and immediately sent out because they didn’t ask for someone my color or darker to be casted, or because I’m not the specific height they asked for.
Discrimination can come in many forms. For me it’s mainly height discrimination and discrimination of my Black features. I’ve been sent out of castings before I could even open the door because I’m too short and I’ve been told by a casting director in front of 20+ models that I’m not a real model because of my height. In terms of being discriminated against for my Black features, most of the time on set hair stylists refuse to touch my hair because, to them, it’s unmanageable. Sometimes I’ll get pictures back from a photographer and they’ve photoshopped my nose to look smaller and more European. Other times, I find myself on set feeling like the brand has secured their “token black girl.”
TC: Describe the impact this kind of discrimination has had on your life, with special attention to the world of fashion & beauty, and whether you see yourself as a change agent.
Hannah Mussette: Being discriminated against for my height, specifically, has made me push even harder for what I want in this industry. It’s hard enough being a Black woman but a short one? In a 5’10+ industry? I often find myself second guessing and trying to be as skinny as possible to look taller than I am, which at times can not be healthy and definitely isn’t good for my mental health. I find myself as a change agent because I refuse to let the industry push me out of something that I’ve been wanting for a lifetime. It’s all about demanding what I want and proving to myself that I have what it takes as a model.
TC: How have you been impacted by the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement, and what would you like the fashion & beauty industry to take away from it?
Hannah Mussette: I’ve been impacted in so many ways. I went to one of the BLM protests in Cleveland, Ohio in June. It makes me feel empowered to be a part of something and to strive for change within the Black community. I couldn’t sit around and allow police brutality to carry on without saying anything. We have to be the change we want to see now, and in the future.
I would love for the fashion and beauty industry to understand that BLM isn’t just a trend and it’s not just something they can post about on their socials for a day and carry on with life. There needs to be more diversity. More Black models. More POC in shows and campaigns. There needs to be less attitudes and beliefs that would say, “We already have 2 black models on our board, sorry we can’t sign you” and more of “We already have 2 black models and we would like 20 more to sign with us.” I would love for the industry as a whole to embrace Black men and women’s beauty and stop using us as a trend to capitalize off of.