In an age where every other millennial with a Mac and Instagram account peppered with pouty changing room selfies is calling themselves a fashion blogger, it can be difficult to tell apart the pretenders from the professionals. But model Sonya Esman is no such imposter. For a start, Esman, who grew up in Toronto, Canada, has been vlogging (video blogging) since what the fashionista terms the “beginning” (2009); she has just shy of 100,000 Twitter followers, over 400,000 Instagram fans and the Russian-born ‘YouTuber’ has starred in a clutch of movies. Oh and she’s only 19-years-old. The girl behind the blog classisinternal.com, which, by the way, is available in Russian and English, explains why blogging is now a part of the cultural landscape and what it’s like being a social media celebrity.
The blogging world is a saturated market. What sets you apart from the rest of the blogger community?
I started on YouTube, which I think is what makes it so unique. I started as an acting ‘YouTuber’ because I didn’t want to just be another fashion blogger, so I made videos about how to be an actor. The goal of my videos is not to just show people my outfit, or show people how cool I am or where I’m traveling, it’s to inspire people.
Did you initially have dreams of being an actress?
I did, yes. I always thought that that was the one thing that I was meant to do on this earth.
So how’s that side of your career progressing?
I mean, I kind of realized that I don’t have a talent for it. If someone gave me the opportunity I would do it but I just don’t want to audition. I’m over it.
It sounds like you’ve had a bad experience. What happened?
You know what… I had an audition for “Degrassi”, which is one of the biggest shows in Toronto. I studied for this script for like weeks and it came to the audition and my mind blanked and I couldn’t speak. I was like standing there for a minute paralyzed. And I was like, “I’m never doing this again ever”.
Have you tried acting lessons?
Oh yeah, my mum paid like $7,000 for acting classes. She hates me, she’s never going to forgive me. Yeah, and it turned out to be a scam.
Do you meet any scammers in the modeling industry?
You meet a lot of people who are like “We’re going to make you a star”. And it’s like, “No, please don’t. Just let me work hard”.
Generation Y seems to be the age of the model-slash-actress-slash-DJ. Is it essential that models have a few jobs on the go?
Yes, it’s incredibly important because you’ll go insane if you only have modeling to depend on. It’s because people will tell you anything like, “You’re too this way or that way”. So if you don’t have something to lean back on and something that you’ve studied or another passion you’re going to go insane. It’s like being in love with somebody and then them being like, “I don’t want you anymore”. I mean who are you, if you’ve made that your life?
Does the fact that you’re a blogging personality give you a certain autonomy? Are your modeling agencies happy for you to promote your own personality?
Of course, they make me an independent person. I think they understand that because I’m a blogger. I’ve never been told to lose weight or not to dye my hair or get a tattoo. I’m respectful and grateful for that.
There was a time when models like Kate Moss were encouraged to be seen and not heard. Do you not think that the fact that they were less accessible added to their exclusivity?
Maybe. But I feel like it’s important for models to have a voice, so they can shed some light on the industry. Now they can speak out and fight for things.
Nowadays, bloggers sit side-by-side with the biggest fashion editors in the world. Why is a blogger’s opinion on a runway collection as valid as, say, someone from Vogue?
I remember four years ago, I would not even watch a fashion show because it seemed so unattainable and not for me. But now with bloggers showing the new collections, I feel like everyone has become a part of the fashion industry through following social media. It gives so much social media press and new press to a younger audience – it’s a new culture.
Are people starting to recognize you in public?
Yes! It’s insane. I honestly feel like I’m never alone. Yesterday, on the subway, this girl was like, “Oh my god, you’re Sonya!” If I go to the really touristy places I have people running up to me and I’m like, “What’s your name? Let’s talk, we don’t have to rush into a selfie… come on.”