PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) — Philly Fashion Week kicks off on Friday and one of the models represents more than just a designer’s brand. He represents people with disabilities.
“I like to think that I’m a man of many hats,” said Kyle Woodland when discussing his multifaceted career.
The 26-year-old can currently be seen dashing down the catwalks and posing for photos for various designers and brands with his tall stature and shoulder-length locks.
His photos attract a lot of attention. But there’s one thing you don’t see from Kyle.
“[I’ve]learned about and dealt with autism since I was two years old — with autism and pervasive developmental disorder,” he said.
The two disabilities make it much more difficult to navigate the modeling world.
“When you get into this industry, people really aren’t patient with people with autism spectrum disorders,” Woodland said. “Everything is very fast-moving. And when you have autism, sometimes you just want to take time out to process things. Sometimes it’s just really difficult to read the room when you have autism.”
With the help of his agency Main Line Models in Glen Mills, Kyle’s first year in business was a success in style, appearing in national campaigns and at New York Fashion Week.
“They love him,” says Laraine Colden, owner and director of Main Line Models, of the designers and stores who have booked Woodland.
“He’s a go-getter! And he’s not going to take ‘no’ for an answer,” she said.
Kyle approaches every booking, including Philly Fashion Week, with the same open mind.
“I tell them right away, like hey, I’m very creative. I’m talented, but I have an autism spectrum disorder,” he said.
That kind of openness is important, advocates say, for people with disabilities. Vicki Landers, founder and CEO of Disability Pride PA, says no one should feel like they have a disability to hide.
“One in four people has a disability, visible or invisible,” Landers said. “I think everyone should be proud of who they are.”
Part of Kyle’s success is related to the support he receives from his agency.
“One of the runway shows that he was at, one of my bookers actually went to the show with him,” Colden said.
But for the most part, Woodland shines on his own, including his appearance in the Netflix film Hustle with 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 computer screen on 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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