Twenty-six-year-old Theresa Longo is Peterborough born and raised. She has been a professional model for over 10 years with international modeling experience. After high school in Peterborough, she attended Trent University, where she received a 4 year Honors Degree (B.B.A). Her downtown Toronto office now acts as a home base for her ever expanding international business centred upon "the public image and likeness of 'Theresa Longo'", with her business primarily focused around corporate representation, public appearances, modeling and acting. Here's an interview we conducted with Theresa taking us into her career and what Peterborough means to her...
PTBOCANADA: You were discovered at 16 at Lansdowne Place, which kickstarted your career as an international model. Tell us about being discovered at the mall, joining Peterborough's Strutt Central modelling agency and where it's lead you.
Longo: When I was discovered at 16, I was elated. I began to gain considerable experience in front of the camera. I practiced posing through dozens of photo shoots while also styling several different scenes and looks. I began going around to local bridal shops, clothing stores and hair salons in Peterborough to let them know I was available to model for them. I got a lot of call backs! I loved modeling in fashion shows, bridal shows and spring fundraisers. With a lot of exposure, I was introduced to a photographer who set me up with a job working at Wakestock. I was recognized by Monster Energy Drink and brought on the team to be a Canadian Monster Model. I shot for the Toronto Sun for a feature as a Monster Energy Model Sunshine Girl commemorating the AMA Supercross. I was asked by the Sun to pose for their yearly calendar in 2010 (and swimsuit edition in 2012!), and shortly thereafter I was crowned Miss Budweiser Honda Indy! I was featured again (twice) nationally in Sun paper. Gaining considerable national exposure, I was acquired by Strutt Central Modelling Agency in 2011. Strutt invited me to be a part of a beauty pageant for women of Italian heritage, where I was crowned Miss Italy North America! I went to Italy for a month to represent North America on the world stage at Miss Italy of the World. My relationship with Strutt Central has been pivotal to my career; in 2013, Strutt has sent me to film several music videos, as well as the opportunity to land an MTV VMA commercial which aired across Canada!
PTBOCANADA: You attended Holy Cross Secondary School and graduated from Trent University with an honours degree in business. Tell us what it means to your career to have that business degree, and how you use it to run your marketing and promotions business, and be an entrepreneur.
Longo: Without a doubt, my education has provided me with a wealth of knowledge and tools to run a successful business. Taking business at Trent was the best career choice I made; every single day, I employ a part of my academic experience. Several fourth year classes were highly impressionable for me and will remain forever useful: Communications, Strategic Planning, Online Business, and Business Ethics. I fully plan on pursuing my education further to complete a Master's Degree, however for right now I enjoy the experience that travel and entrepreneurship provides.
PTBOCANADA: How many events do you model at per year? Any particular recent highlights/anecdotes you can share?
Longo: I model at hundreds of events each year. Recent highlights include modelling over $100,000 worth of DiamondTsar Diamonds at an Investment Exchange trade show. I wore a diamond necklace worth over $60,000 retail!
PTBOCANADA: Do you find you're getting recognized more and more when you travel? What does that mean to you?
Longo: Yes. It is unreal! People have recognized me on the street and in other countries! It is incredibly amazing, humbling and yet fulfilling to see the result of strong brand development.
PTBOCANADA: What do you call home now? Do you get back to Peterborough much?
Longo: Toronto is home. I travel a lot. I visit Peterborough several times a year!
PTBOCANADA: You recently finished teaching aspiring models and actresses at Strutt Central in Peterborough. Tell us what it means to you to come home and teach these girls, and empower them. What life lessons are you providing?
Longo: It means the world to me to return to Peterborough to positively influence aspiring talent. I think to my own experiences starting out as a model, and I would have loved to have a mentor in the entertainment industry to look up to. Some of the lessons include teaching the positive relationship between practising good leadership and achieving goals. Throughout the class, students will think about career paths, choosing wisely, and how to set yourself up for success. We also go over public relations tips, how to properly pose for the camera, and tips on fitness and staying healthy.
PTBOCANADA: Speaking of empowerment, there is this perception among many about a model's IQ. You work hard to combat that by the way you lead your life and your business savvy. Give us your take on the misconceptions that arise about models, and how they shouldn't be judged by their looks alone.
Longo: There are misconceptions and there are truths about models/the industry. I always look for the truth. Truth is sewn into everything; it becomes plain to see the truth of things with thoughtful intent. Personally, I carefully study, watch and listen to everything and everyone before I formulate an opinion. There are many smart, successful people of the world employing this truth seeking strategy who quickly pick up on personality and intelligence. I am quite confident in my ability to completely dismiss anyone's "perception of a model's IQ" in the way I carry myself and through the words I speak.
PTBOCANADA: What is your view on on women and beauty, and how they are projected in media (e.g. photoshopped covers of magazines)? Are young girls having to live up to unrealistic ideals? How do you teach them to be positive about themselves, have good self-esteem, live a healthy life?
Longo: There is a lot of pressure. There is also a lot of photoshop. I definitely think there is tremendous pressure for young girls to try to live up to unrealistic ideals. I teach ladies to be positive through the creation of a solid foundation of confidence and good self esteem. I love to show them unretouched photos. I teach young ladies beauty tips and tricks for healthy skin, teeth and hair—many of which my nanny taught me as a young girl. I also encourage young ladies to get involved in fitness/gymnastics/sports. I teach ladies to put themselves first, and to stay in school. Living a healthy, rewarding life comes first overall.
PTBOCANADA: You travel all around the world and get to see exotic places. But tell us what Peterborough means to you. Growing up here and coming home.
Longo: Peterborough is truly home for me. It is special to me in many ways because of the close friendships, experiences, business relationships and academic successes. I love our city. I am proud to say I grew up here.
PTBOCANADA: Tell us about your take on social media. You are on Twitter @theresalongo and tweet quite a bit. You have more than 23,000 followers. What does social media mean to your "brand"? How do you use it? How has it helped you? Do you interact closely with followers?
Longo: Social media is essential in brand development. I regularly use social media to connect with fans, share news and update followers. Using social media has opened many doors for me and allowed me to connect with other successful professionals in my industry. I try to interact closely with followers. I am trying to gain more followers to my official Facebook page.
PTBOCANADA: What is your next step(s)/goal(s) in your career? What's on your bucket list? Aspiring actress?
Longo: My next steps include additional acting roles and a continued focus on fitness and modeling. Currently in the works: I am writing and recording new, original music—as a child I took guitar lessons with John for several years at Bud Monahan Music in Peterborough! Creating, recording and performing an album is most definitely on my bucket list.
PTBOCANADA: Anything we missed you want to cover?
Longo: Readers can check out my blog at Theresalongo.com, where I regularly blog about fitness, travel tips, concert and event coverage and more!