In the span of one week, TaMyah Jordan had taken the ACT exam and made her debut as a blind model for the Runway of Dreams fashion show in Los Angeles.
Jordan, an 11th grade residential student at Kentucky School for the Blind (KSB), traveled to Los Angeles in March 2022 to make her runway debut as a blind model for Target on the Runway of Dreams stage.
“[Modeling] is something that I could connect to things I loved. And I’ve always loved clothes,” she said.
Founded in 2014 by fashion designer Mindy Scheier, Runway of Dreams is a non-profit organization that envisions a world where the fashion industry embraces adaptive clothing for people with disabilities as mainstream and people with disabilities are empowered by confidence, independence and style. To achieve this, Runway of Dreams produces national runway shows. This was the first time Runway of Dreams held a fashion show in Los Angeles and it featured nearly 60 models with varying disabilities and differences, ethnicities and backgrounds.
It was a full schedule for the Runway of Dreams models on the day of the show. Upon arriving at the venue around noon, the models attended “school” for three hours. Throughout school, individual models were pulled away to practice on the runway. Once school finished at 3 p.m., the models headed off to hair and makeup. Two hours of glamorizing later and the models were ready for a full run through. After practicing the show, everyone had a quick bite to eat, changed into their outfits, and then it was time for the show to begin. And, of course, no fashion show is complete without a VIP afterparty for all the models and their families.
The Los Angeles Fashion Revolution show premiered globally on March 15th.
This was not Jordan’s first time on a stage. She previously modeled in several American Girl Doll fashion shows and in the Southern Women’s show, both in Nashville, Tenn.
In 2021, Jordan participated in a week-long model training program in Orlando, Fla. Jordan’s mother, Tonika East, posted a video on social media and one of her friends reached out about an opportunity in New York City. The girls had missed the deadline but luckily a Gamut Management representative reached back out to Jordan and her mother about talent management and Jordan quickly signed on. Gamut send out audition information about the Runway of Dreams show, Jordan applied and was later offered the job. The Los Angeles Fashion Revolution was Jordan’s first show under Gamut management.
Jordan still gets nervous before walking on stage, but it all goes away once she’s on the runway hearing the music and people cheering. Her mom and grandmother were part of the cheers in the audience that night and several of her teachers watched the recording once available.
“It feels amazing to get all kinds of support,” said Jordan.
Jordan plans to continue modeling and encourages other young girls to do the same. She said the best advice she can give someone who is interested in modeling is to not be afraid of criticism.
“You’ll hear a lot about what you need to fix and it’s not necessarily a bad thing,” said Jordan. “It’s just something that you need to work on. Like my nerves, that’s what I have to work on. It’s not bad, it’s just progression to be better. And to use what people tell you as criticism for fuel.”
Even though she missed a few days of school, Jordan does not find it hard to balance her schoolwork and her extracurricular activities. That is something that came with time.
“When I first started getting into modeling more seriously, it was difficult. Now it is a little bit easier,” she said. “With this certain area, you can pick and choose what you want to do. That was the hardest part, I wanted to do things that didn’t fit in the schedule, but now that there are people who can work with that thrown in, it’s easier to balance it all.”
This is Jordan’s first year at KSB after previously attending Tennessee’s School for the Blind.
“[KSB] is very different from Tennessee,” she said. “In Tennessee, it’s a little bit bigger than here. That was the biggest adjustment, but I am getting used to it now. It was easy to make friends, and everyone has been really welcoming.”
Jordan, a junior, attends Central High School (Jefferson County) in the morning and returns to KSB in the afternoon. The teachers of students with visual impairment (TVIs) at Central High help Jordan keep track of her schoolwork in between all her commitments.
“They’ve been communicative with things that I am getting behind on, so I don’t get too far behind and making sure I am still staying on top of it all,” she said.
Jordan stays busy, from track and field to cheerleading and dance. Her mother, Tonika, supports her in all her activities.
“Not a lot of people that I’ve met that are doing modeling and acting have a good support system and their parents don’t support them,” she said. “My mom has always supported me. If I want to go somewhere or do something, she says ‘Okay, let’s do it.’”
As far as what comes next for Jordan after high school, she admits it varies day by day.
“I want to go to college. That’s about the only thing I have thought of,” she said.