Diverse talent agency Urban Angels celebrates 20 years
The pioneering London-based child modelling agency Urban Angels, which features in one of our exhibitions, is celebrating 20 years of showcasing diverse talent. Founder Alysia Lewis tells us why she wanted to change the industry – and Warren Reilly, our Associate Creative Director, reflects on joining the agency aged seven.
The pioneering diverse child modelling agency Urban Angels is celebrating 20 years in business.
The agency, which features in By The Cut of their Cloth, our exhibition about racial mixing in Brent, was set up in 2003 by former fashion PR Alysia Lewis when she spotted a gap in the market.
“A friend’s little boy, who was mixed race, got turned down by three London kids’ agents,” she explains.
“Parents would be told that their child was ‘not definable enough’ or that they ‘already have their quota of Black children’. It was terrible, I, knew I wanted to try and change things.”
Alysia says that in the days before social media made connection easier, she “pounded the streets of London looking for models”. “We launched with just over 100 kids, and when we got our first booking with Woolworths within weeks, I knew that we would succeed.”
A friend’s little boy, who was mixed race, got turned down by three London agents. We knew we wanted to change things
Alysia Lewis, Founder, Urban Angels
Diversifying the world of child modelling
Urban Angels is now one of the UK’s leading child talent agencies, with more than 600 models across the country and clients all over the world. “We now have a third generation of models, which blows my mind,” says Alysia. It continues to represent and reflect “the diverse society we live in”.
Urban Angels celebrated 20 years in the business with an event at Hackney Church on 23 September, where 800 guests including past and present models gathered to celebrate the agency’s achievements. The event included a catwalk show featuring current and former models.
Below: images of Warren during his time child modelling, including at Urban Angels.
Warren Reilly, Associate Creative Director at The Mixed Museum, was one of the agency’s first models, joining when he was just seven in 2004. In a section about Urban Angels in our exhibition, By The Cut of their Cloth, he shared how, as a mixed child, his experiences with other agencies were not always positive.
Looking back now, he says: “I was truly honoured to be part of their 20th-anniversary celebration, making a speech to the crowd reflecting on my memories and achievements.
“This event not only marked two decades of nurturing diverse young talent, but also underscores the profound impact modelling as a child had in shaping my creative career today."