PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) — Friday begins Philly Fashion Week, and one of the models represents more than just a designer brand. He represents people with disabilities.
“I like to think of myself as a man of many hats,” Kyle Woodland said of his multi-faceted career.
The 26-year-old can currently be seen hitting the slopes and posing for photos for various designers and brands with his tall stature and shoulder length locks.
Her photos are getting a lot of attention. But there’s one thing you can’t tell by looking at Kyle.
“(I) learned about and dealt with autism since I was 2 years old – with autism and pervasive developmental disorder,” he said.
Both disabilities make the world of modeling much harder to navigate.
“Coming into this industry, people are really not patient with people with autism spectrum disorders,” Woodland said. “Everything happens very quickly. And when you’re autistic, sometimes you just want to take the time to process things. Sometimes it’s really hard when you’re autistic to read the room.”
With the help of his agency, Main Line Models in Glen Mills, Kyle’s first year in the business was a stylish success with appearances in national campaigns and at New York Fashion Week.
“They love it,” Laraine Colden, owner and manager of Main Line Models, said of the designers and stores that booked Woodland.
“He’s a go-getter! And he won’t take ‘no’ for an answer,” she said.
Kyle approaches every booking, including Philadelphia Fashion Week, with the same candid attitude.
“I tell them up front, like hey, I’m very creative. I’m talented, but I have autism spectrum disorder,” he said.
This type of franchise is important, advocates say, for people living with disabilities. Disability Pride PA Founder and Executive Director Vicki Landers says no one should feel like they have to hide a disability.
“One in four people has a disability, whether visible or not,” Landers said. “I think everyone should be proud of who they are.”
Part of Kyle’s success is down to the support he got from his agency.
“One of the fashion shows he was in, one of my bookers walked him to the show,” Colden said.
But for the most part, Woodland shines on its own, including its appearance in the Netflix movie “Hustle” starring Adam Sandler.
“Adam Sandler is really down to earth, man,” he says of the star who took the time to pose for a photo with him.
Woodland lights up the big screen and the computer screen in his own Youtube show, the Kyle Woodland show. He hopes that by sharing his story, he can change the face of autism.
“I’m a strong advocate for being yourself,” he said. “You will never succeed or show your true self if you try to hide or be someone else.”
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