TCHS student signs modeling contract

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Justice Gregory models for New York agency

By Calen McKinney



It began with a Facebook post.

A year later, that posting has resulted in a professional modeling contract, trips to New York and potentially a long-time career.

Justice Gregory, 16, a sophomore at Taylor County High School, has signed a modeling contract with Ford Models office in New York. He is one of about 2,000 people who model for the company and one of about 190 at the New York office. He is one of only a handful of Ford's models who are younger than 18.

And, Kati Brown, men's manager at Ford Models in New York, said Justice is the only model from Kentucky she knows about.

Justice plays baseball and basketball for TCHS and is involved with show choir. He also plays the drums at his church, Campbellsville Christian.

Gregory's work with Ford Models began about a year ago when his mother, Cindy, took a photo of her son and his sister, Hailey, as they do every year. Cindy posted the photos on Facebook, her husband, Billy said.

"As every proud mother does."

One person commented on the photos, Billy said, asking if Justice had ever thought about modeling. So, for fun, Cindy submitted photos of her son for Ford's V Man model search. The casting call was available for anyone to submit information and photos in hopes of becoming a professional model.

Brown said those at Ford monitor the V Man submissions every day and were impressed when they saw photos of Justice.

"He's got a great look," she said.

After seeing his photos, it didn't take long for Ford Models to reach out to Justice. The New York office called Cindy.

"Literally, the next day, they contacted her," Billy said.

The company stayed in contact with the Gregory family for several months. In June, they told Justice he had been chosen as a finalist for the V Man search.

However, Brown said, Justice ultimately didn't win the competition because he is too young, but something about him stuck with those who saw his photos.

Billy took Justice to New York in July and met with Ford agents. After a meeting, they offered him a three-year contract. They took the contract home and talked about it as a family.

"And we decided, what an opportunity. Let's go with it," Billy said.

After signing the contract, Justice went back to New York in October for photo shoots to create his modeling "book" to be shown to clients in hopes of them booking him jobs.

"It was fun," Justice said. "They're good people you work with."

While in New York, Justice met with fashion blogger John Tan for a photo shoot and interview. Tan said Ford Models staff members often suggest up and coming models for him to take notice and meet. He said Brown spoke highly of Justice. And that led to Tan featuring Justice on his blog.

To see Tan’s blog about Justice, visit johntancasting.blogspot.com and enter Justice Gregory in the search window.

Tan said he believes that modeling is a great way for people to travel, meet new people and learn independence.

"For Justice, I think he has potential, but it needs to combine with a lot of elements in order to become successful - hard work, persistence and luck," Tan said. "Everyone's journey is slightly different, I wish Justice all the best!"

Until Justice turns 18, his parents will have to give him permission for the jobs he books. And one job could be in just a few months, Fashion Week in February.

Justice recently broke his leg, however, which might cause him to not be able to work during the week of runway shows and photo shoots.

But this summer, Justice will spend several weeks in New York focusing on nothing but modeling. He will have a job there and might stay in an apartment with other Ford models. Billy said he and Cindy will help their son as he gets acclimated in New York and be there for whatever he needs.

Until then, Justice says Brown will be showing his book to clients in New York for potential photo shoots.

"We just kinda wait to hear from other people," he said. "They think I'll be up there a lot."

Though Justice says fashion hasn't really been something he is interested in, he keeps up with the trends now.

"All of this happened so fast," he said.

Justice said he is excited to go to New York this summer, but also nervous to be by himself in the city.

"I just want to see where it leads me," he said. "I mean, it'd be cool if I did this for a long time."

Justice said Ford Models has a history of contracting with models for 30 years or even longer.

"It's whatever's in God's plan, honestly," he said.

"If it doesn't work out, there's not too many people that can say they've signed a professional modeling contract. It if doesn't work out, it doesn't work out. There are other things I can put myself into."

He said he might want to be a sports anchor, broadcaster or even an actor.

"It'd be cool. I feel like I could have the personality to do it. Maybe not."

But attending college is something he says he knows he will do.

Justice said his friends and family members have been very supportive.

"Some of them joke about it," he said.

Brown and Tan said Justice will be doing lots of photo shoots and working with stylists and groomers to build his portfolio.

" ... Which eventually will lead to fashion shows, e-commerce and advertising campaigns," Tan said. "It can happen immediately or build up to that after he gains all the experiences in modeling."

Brown said she believes Justice could have a very successful career as a model.

"Oh for sure," she said. "We don't sign models every day. When we sign a model, it's because we believe in him."

She said it's very rare for a 16-year-old to sign a professional contract.

"He doesn't look 16, so that helps," Brown said.

When he works for Ford in New York, the company will get special permits and permission for him.

Brown said she hopes Justice is healthy enough to come to Fashion Week. She said he has taken his modeling seriously and gotten into great shape in preparation.

She said this summer will be a great opportunity for Justice to meet people in the modeling business and start what she hopes will be a long career in the industry.

The Gregory family has been great to work with, she said.

"We're happy to have them on board," she said. "We'll see what happens."

Billy said his son's foray into the modeling world could just turn into his career. He said Brown has been very helpful and encouraging and it's exciting that his son is one of about 2,000 people with an opportunity to work with a leading modeling company.

When looking at Ford's website, Billy said, his son's profile is on the same page as Channing Tatum's.

"It's endless, the possibilities, if you think about it," Billy said. "But it's happening for some reason. We'll see."

Justice's official Ford Models profile is available on the company's website at models.fordmodels.com/models/7/talents/45124.