In recent months, brands such as River Island and Marks & Spencer, and television shows on Channel 4 and CBBC, have become more inclusive in the talent they are hiring – actors, performers, and models with disabilities or additional needs. A leading agency for diverse casting in the entertainment industry was created by Grimbarian, Zoe Proctor.
Zoe, born and raised in the Grimsby area, began modelling as a curve model after finishing her degree in Fine Art and Performing Arts at university, working for the likes of JD Williams, Avon, and even Macys in New York City. She travelled around the world, returning home to earn some more money before heading across the globe once again. She applied for the position of a Performing Arts Lecturer working with people with learning disabilities, and loved her work, her students, and teaching so much that she ended up staying for 13 years.
This became her passion and so, in 2012, Zoe started her own classes, Zebedee Performing Arts in Old Clee. Many of her students wanted to act, model and perform professionally but sadly, Zoe couldn’t find many agencies accepting talent with disabilities. Then, in February 2017 when walking their dogs along Cleethorpes beach, Zoe and her sister-in-law, Laura, decided to create their own talent agency, Zebedee Management.
Today, Zebedee represents over 300 models and performers, from babies to grandparents. Their talent has worked for the likes of Mercedes Benz, Apple, TK Maxx, and Primark, and appeared on the pages of Vogue and Grazia as well as on the catwalks of London and New York Fashion Week. CBBC’s ‘My Life’ featured Zebedee’s models, and this episode was the highest-rated CBBC show ever on BBC iPlayer.
Zoe said: “Our mission is to see people with disabilities, differences and additional needs cast in mainstream and high-end media and fashion jobs as the norm, which will lead to a caring more understanding and empathetic society. We aim to run a high-end, pro-active, awareness-raising agency and represent our models to their fullest potential.”
For those who have ambitions for modelling or performing but do not feel included, Zoe says: “Try and find good people to work with, there is a huge brilliant talent pool in the local area – try not to waste time or money on poor quality or scams. Be prepared to travel, unfortunately most auditions and work is in London, Manchester and sometimes Leeds. And, research the best local dance or drama groups. There are lots of brilliant ones and some inspirational talent and teachers locally to learn from.”