- Story by Sean McIntyreStyling by Shai ThompsonPhotography by Lia Crowe
North Saanich’s Connor Way is a rising star on both the football field and the runway. Here, he talks to Pearl Magazine about these two seemingly polar worlds … and presents spring fashion that is sure to put some prep in your step.
|Renaissance Denim Pant by 7 Downie St. ($178), skull shirt by 7 Downie St. ($178), double-breasted sports jacket by Coppley ($998), NOBRAND Shoe Grey ($225) and socks by Marcoliani ($32.50), all from d.g. bremner & co. Lia Crowe photograph|
Twelve months ago, 17-year-old Connor Way was on his way back from Texas, where he had joined the world’s best high school football prospects at the International Bowl.
Connor still has a passion for the game and, with high school graduation and university application deadlines closing in, he’s already been courted by colleges south of the border.
Yet Connor finds himself suddenly with more than just scholarship offers to choose from this spring.
Not long after his return to North Saanich following last year’s big game down in Dallas, the Claremont Secondary School student embarked on something entirely new when he seized an opportunity to do some modelling work. Never one to step away from a challenge, Connor has tackled his budding modelling career head on.
“As much as football is hard, the game comes easy to me,” he says. “When I started modelling, it required getting to know a whole different thing.”
He recalls the hilariously challenging modelling practise of producing 30 facial expressions in 30 seconds. Walking on a runway, too, it turns out, was also a whole lot different then playing defensive safety for various BC teams.
“It’s actually been really humbling to see how far my work has come,” he says.
And Connor has come a very long way. Within the past year, he’s gone from doing some local photo shoots to signing a contract with Coultish Management, a Victoria-based agency that’s managed the successful careers of hundreds of models since it was established in 1987.
|Cool denim by 34 Heritage ($198), blue check sports coat by Ted Baker ($725), white T-shirt by Robert Barakett ($67.50), salmon stripe scarf by Stones ($89), blue textured belt by Benchcraft ($150), all from d.g. bremner & co.Lia Crowe photograph|
Connor is regularly booked for photoshoots in both Victoria and Vancouver, and he’s slated to make his second appearance at Vancouver Fashion Week in March. He also acts part-time, has appeared in seven movies, a commercial and a soon-to-be launched music video.
The highlight of his rookie season in the fashion world, however, came late last year when Connor won the 2018 Senior Champion Male Model of the World competition at WCOPA (World Centre of the Performing Arts) in Long Beach, California. Competing against contestants aged 16 and up from 62 countries, Connor also won gold medals in the casual, formal, spokesmodel and photo categories.
According to Connor’s mother, Shauna Dorko, the competition is akin to the “talent Olympics” and features performers in categories that include vocals, dance, modelling and acting. To Dorko, who spends about three hours per day managing her son’s busy modelling career, the event was about so much more than winning medals. Being in Los Angeles, a major hub in the modelling universe, gave Connor the chance to sit down and meet with representatives from modelling agencies, casting agents and directors.
Dorko, who runs her own business, never imagined her son’s ascendancy in the fashion world. She believed he had what it takes, but she’s continually amazed at how quickly the process has evolved. Given how far he’s come in a year, Connor and his mother already have plans to head back to Southern California to follow up on some of the successful networking leads they’ve established.
“The minute we were in LA, we saw how things were playing out on a whole different scale,” she says. “There are a few people who want us to come back and meet with them.”
|Blue cardigan by William Lockie ($250), plaid shirt by Viyella ($145) and blue knit tie by Gattonero ($75), all from W&J Wilson; cool denim by 34 Heritage ($198) and blue check sports coat by Ted Baker ($725) both from d.g. bremner & co.Lia Crowe photograph|
Given his meteoric rise, Connor has stayed remarkably grounded. Within minutes of speaking with him, it becomes clear that his confidence, maturity and respectful demeanour are a major reason for his success.
In the notoriously competitive field of fashion and elite sports, it’s refreshing to hear an aspiring star speak of camaraderie and brotherhood. Rather than pit himself against those around him, Connor seems genuinely interested in their success. His competitive streak is bred not from how he ranks in relation to others, but with regard to how he looks at himself. That’s a valuable lesson to have mastered so early in life.
“I respect what’s best for everyone, and I love to see people succeed,” he says. “I’ve never been super nervous. Nothing really stresses me out because I feel I can turn to people if I’m lost.”
He credits his mother and strong network of friends for his success. Teachers and tutors, he adds, have shown great flexibility and patience with helping him fit schoolwork into a busy schedule that sees him travel extensively for one job and train relentlessly for the other. Despite all the excitement, he fully realizes that it’s nearly time to make a choice.
“I still haven’t made the switch from football to modelling, but it’s time for making decisions,” he says. “Now I need to figure out what I want to do for the rest of my life.”
Given his attitude, he’s likely to make the best of whichever pathway he chooses.
Special thanks to local skateboarder Zachary Wilkinson.
Photographed on location at the Sidney Lawn Bowling Club, Tulista Park and Iroquois Park. A huge thank you to the Sidney Lawn Bowling Club for hosting our team.
|Renaissance denim by 7 Downie St. ($178), green shirt by Stenströms ($295), blue cardigan by Belika ($165), green outer-coat by Milestone ($495), tie by Dion ($135), satchel by Bugatti ($295), shoe by NOBRAND ($245) all from d.g. bremner & co.Lia Crowe photograph|