While Girl Model has spurred some important discussions about problems in the modeling industry, there’s been little mention of the girl at the center of the story: Nadya Vall. We reached out to now-17-year-old Nadya through her agency, NOAH, and well, the response was pretty surprising.
“Nadya and her parents are humiliated with this as well as our whole NOAH team and it’s not going to be left without the lawful actions against this libel,” an agency rep wrote back to us.
When we finally got in touch with Nadya (she is living and working temporarily in Asia), the young model reiterated her agency’s sentiment. “I have not seen the movie, but I read the comments and a description for this film, recordings, and was unpleasantly shocked!” she wrote in an email.
“My agency Noah Models always sends me to good agencies abroad! do not deceive us and always care about us! [sic] in general I can say that I do not agree with the way modeling life is presented in the movie.”
We can imagine how hard it must be to have a difficult part of your life captured on film, for all to see (and judge), particularly at such a young age. However, it’s worth emphasizing that Nadya has still not actually seen the film (and we’ve only seen clips), so it’s hard to differentiate between the movie’s actual content and the media’s (often sensationalized) coverage of it.
It’s also worth noting that models are discouraged from speaking out, given their precarious position as freelancers–their jobs are on the line. (Blais, for one, told us she’s “working way less since the film came out.”)
When I spoke with the directors, Redmon told me he was trying to get the film translated into Russian so Nadya could actually see the film. He also told me that they had hired someone to go to Russia, in an attempt to get back in touch with the young model, and the investigator had reported back that they “should stop asking questions.”
“So, we stopped asking questions,” Redmon said. “We didn’t want to get in trouble and we didn’t want Nadya to get in any trouble.”
When we asked Nadya if she had had any contact with the filmmakers, she responded:
“after the release of this film, I wrote him a short message asking why I kept on getting letters from unknown people from different countries . They were offering me help considering me a victim and asking if I wanted to get the film to watch it full. he replied that he didn’t understand why people wrote to me this kind of messages, and promised to send me the movie after in Russian. but so far I have not got anything from him! In any case I’m not going to have any possible communication with these horrible people who did such a junk out of a real story. They are NOT TO TRUST!!!!”
Redmon and Sabin are adamant that there was no trickery involved when filming. “Ashley [Arbaugh] was the one who selected Nadya, because she scouted her, and we basically just followed up,” Sabin told me. “We went back and spoke with the family about whether they were comfortable with us filming her daughter. That was important to us.”
Despite the directors’ initial intentions, Girl Model is clearly making changes in the modeling industry–and though most of them are positive, they may have been at the expense of Nadya. Or at least that seems to be how Nadya feels. What’s your take?