New Pandemics is the casting and management agency dedicated to increasing LGBTQ+ visibility. Founder, Cody Chandler and Broadway Performer and Model, Isaac Powell discuss the importance of donating 10% of profits to LGBTQ+ non profits, body positivity within the Queer community and LGBTQ+ icons.
“New Pandemics serves as a testament to the philosophy of Harvey Milk and many other gay revolutionaries; visibility and queer empowerment stomp out marginalization, bullying, and discrimination.”
FOUNDER - CODY
Tell us about New Pandemics and the manifestation of the concept?
New Pandemics is a casting and management agency dedicated to increasing LGBTQ+ visibility. 10% of profits are contributed back to LGBTQ+ non-profits and organizations. A while back, a transgender model wrote after having to endure being addressed by the wrong pronouns on set all day, that was one of many events that transpired and served as an impetus for creating the agency. I was working as a casting assistant at the time, and realized then that there was a need for a mediator in the industry. New Pandemics serves as a testament to the philosophy of Harvey Milk and many other gay revolutionaries; visibility and queer empowerment stomp out marginalization, bullying, and discrimination.
What role do you think New Pandemics can play in the conversation of body positivity within the Queer community?
The Queer community in itself can be very divisive and judgmental when it comes to body types-but fortunately there’s a big push and demand for advertising to mirror the general population. From a subconscious level, advertising has classically been known to portray the stereotypical ‘ideal.’ When choices are made to be more inclusive and we see more diversity in Queer bodies or bodies in general reflected in media, that has a powerful impact which shifts the perceived form of the ‘ideal.’
There’s a prevailing consensus that the fashion industry is a progressive and inclusive environment to work in. However, gay male models in particular have been groomed to hide their homosexuality to secure work. Do you think homophobic attitudes are still engrained in the industry?
The short answer is yes. The long answer involves individuals at the top of the industry who hold tightly to the narrative that coming out equals career suicide. Their mentors taught it to them…they passed it on, so on and so forth. This is not isolated to just the fashion industry, but the entertainment industry as a whole. We can simply do better and that involves representatives, corporations, directors, talent, casting directors, and everyone in between having the backbone to support a new idea-that Queer empowerment and standing up for the community and future generations is far more valuable than the irrational fear of losing a few dollars or business from bigots.
New Pandemics encapsulates values of a human rights institution. As a socially responsible organisation how does New Pandemics address the issue of “fast fashion”?
I recognize the fashion industry’s role in the environmental crisis. I feel when we value ourselves we generally buy less to compensate for our insecurities. Maybe I’m an idealist in thinking that in some weird way New Pandemics can instil more self-love and perpetuate changes at the consumer level. I advise anyone interested in diving deeper to read some of Vivienne Westwood’s thoughts on the matter as well.
What ideologies does New Pandemics endorse that differentiates New Pandemics’ models from models signed to what are considered the most influential agencies?
New Pandemics offers a true sense of community while valuing all of the eccentricities and unique qualities of each individual. It offers companies and other industry professionals a space to engage authentically with individuals across the spectrum and fills a much needed gap in communication. The talent and everyone involved can know they’re giving back and making the ride a little easier for someone else as 10% of agency profits are re-invested back into the LGBTQ+ community. It’s a beautiful thing, and I know that since New Pandemics simply exists, the industry and larger agencies will have to try and create a response in the form of action to maintain their relevancy.
What message would you advocate to an agency guilty of a homogenous modelling board?
I hope you know how to swim, your boat has gaping holes and it’s sinking fast.
“We can simply do better and that involves representatives, corporations, directors, talent, casting directors, and everyone in between having the backbone to support a new idea-that Queer empowerment and standing up for the community and future generations is far more valuable than the irrational fear of losing a few dollars or business from bigots.”
MODEL - ISAAC
Growing up did you have a role model who influenced your outlook on life or career path?
When I was about 5, I saw the Selena biopic starring Jennifer Lopez and became obsessed with the idea of being onstage. I remember even being five years old, feeling profoundly moved by that movie (which I don’t think I’ve even seen since). For show-and-tell I got up and gave a synopsis of the film for my unenthused classmates but I felt so powerful standing up in front of my peers and telling her story. Ever since that day I’ve been performing in some form or fashion either in life or onstage.
How about any LGBTQ+ icons?
Frida Kahlo, Harvey Milk, Dumbledore, Marsha P. Johnson, Jonathan Van Ness and the Pink Power Ranger.
How did you start modelling? Is it something you actively pursued or a natural progression from performing?
Instagram. I never pursued it but social media has opened up a lot of opportunities for me. I suppose it was a natural progression though. Photographers I really liked started reaching out on insta and asking me to pose for them. Then Cody who founded New Pandemics reached out and pitched his agency to me and now I’m represented as a model. Never really imagined that for myself but I’m enjoying it.
What are some of your own personal mental / physical routines or daily rituals that help you perform at your best?
I’m on Broadway doing 8 shows a week, singing and dancing in a physically demanding production. So I go to the gym for my mental and physical well-being. I need to exert that energy to feel physically expressed and to be able to maintain my stamina. I go everyday. And the best mental medicine for me is time outdoors so if it’s nice out, I Iike to start my day with coffee on my fire escape or take a walk but time outdoors is a must for me.
Your Go-To tracks for working out?
These days it’s ICY GRL by Saweetie.
“Frida Kahlo, Harvey Milk, Dumbledore, Marsha P. Johnson, Jonathan Van Ness and the Pink Power Ranger.”
Are there any young creatives, models, or performers who excite you for the future?
Hunter Schafer. We overlapped at school for a year when I was in undergrad and I was so taken with her. She’s an incredible trans artist, activist and model and just the sweetest soul. She’s also the badass who at 18 years old, sued the legislature in our home state of North Carolina over House Bill 2 (the bathroom bill).
What are you currently reading, listening, and devoted to this month?
Listening to tons of Khruangbin and Alabama Shakes. Reading Passing by Nella Larsen.
We find it “ribbeting” that you have pet frogs. What are their names and how did this all come about?
Sofia is the big brown one and Reggie is the smaller green one. I walked into a pet store on a whim one day. I found myself in front of the frog tank but all the frogs were hiding. Just out of curiosity I asked if I could hold one. The worker put the frog on my arm and I swear to god it was like when a baby latches to its mother for the first time. I’ve had frogs ever since. 5 years now. And I could never decide on names so they were nameless for months until my friends decided what to name them.
Goals for 2018?
Finally complete The Artists Way.
What would you graffiti on the back of a toilet door?
A dick. Always a dick. A very detailed dick. That’s all I can draw but I’m very good at it.