Audiences got a taste of Julia Samersova as the director of scouting on the E! show, Scouted, but the longtime industry vet actually considers casting her passion, especially when it comes to broadening society’s view of beautiful children.
“I personally love casting kids, especially when we have to go out in the streets, into the playgrounds, soccer fields, and actually look for kids,” she tells PEOPLE.
“It’s a really amazing moment to walk up to a parent or to a kid and say, ‘I think you’re really special’ or ‘I think you have something.’”
“That’s the most fun part to me about what I do, changing somebody’s life within five seconds of meeting them,” she continues, “to make maybe a little girl who never even thought she was beautiful, think she is beautiful.”
The owner of Cast Inc., Samersova got her start in child casting in 2009, when she worked on the launch of Planet Awesome Kid, a street style blog featuring kids from around the world. The success of the project led her to be contacted by bigger name companies, such as H&M and J.Crew, who were seeking regular kids to include in their campaigns not often represented.
“I think for a very long time, especially in the kids market, it’s sort of been very cookie-cutter kids, the All-American, blonde, blue-eyed look,” she says, “and I think that we’re really moving away from that and I think that’s why companies are so interested in showing that all sorts of children can be beautiful.”
“It’s important for kids to grow up with images of kids that look like them,” she adds. “I’m always looking for the child that’s a little bit unique. It’s the boy that had his nose broken. The kid with the funky Afro. Even an albino kid with red hair. Whatever differences that actually make people stand out, that to me is the most beautiful.”
|Courtesy Julia Samersova|
While the appearance of young children in ad campaigns aimed at adults has sometimes caused controversy, Samersova contends that when done properly, there’s no harm done by it — and she would even be willing to let her own daughter, 3-year-old Violet, give it a go.
“I’m a mom, first and foremost,” she says. “But if somebody came to me and said, ‘Can we put your 3-year-old in an ad campaign for H&M or Gap?’ I would say absolutely. When it’s a reputable company and the images are childlike and pure, I have no problem with it.”
– Kiran Hefa