iCandy Talent Agency CEO Christina “Heaven’ Vergara Tackles Exploitation in the Entertainment Industry – The Hype Magazine
iCandy.com is a Talent Agency that specializes in providing full-spectrum model & talent management for Fashion and Lifestyle Print, Runway, Promotions, Showroom, Fit, Music Videos, Tv/Film, and Commercials. iCandy is best known for its boutique personal approach, model brand development, and loyal client relationships, and aims to set the standards with professional service and integrity.
CEO of iCandy, Christina Vergara, also known as “Heaven” in the entertainment industry, started this company four years ago. She wanted to provide a safe haven for models to work from. This came from many modeling opportunities that were offered to her but the doors were quickly closed after she refused to do sexual favors in exchange for work. After the horrific experiences heaven has encountered in the past she wanted to be a voice for girls that had experienced the things she has and ran away from a dream due to a corrupted industry.
Shortly after, Heaven started learning that the corruption didn’t stop there. The girls were getting tricked into doing videos for free while the directors pocket the money. She was determined to put a stop to unpaid gigs. Starting her hashtag #PaidGigsOnly she quickly caught the attention of a lot of upcoming and rising models and started demanding paid hourly salaries for her talents. She also educated the talents on how to identify the signs of bad business, and advising them on the right time to sign an exclusive contract.
After helping her talents get paid for their work, she continued to help them grow. From paving the way for some former models who are now CEOs of their own modeling companies, to getting choreographers to perform on stage with the hottest musicians today, it warms her heart to watch how much the performers have grown with the help of iCandy.
The company also works directly with many A-list celebrities & networks. From Flipp Dinero, Rich the Kid, Daddy Yankee, TV/film networks. She is best known as the one-stop-shop in the entertainment business today. Heaven’s company helps clients get branding opportunities such as paid ads and posts, paid social media campaigns, endorsements, sponsorship, verification on certain platforms, securing personal assistants, and anything they may need to make their daily lives easier.
The Hype Magazine sat down with Heaven to unpack how she achieves her mission with iCandy:
What inspired you to enter the entertainment industry?
Heaven: Growing up I always had a desire to learn about the industry. Especially the music industry. It started when I was in 7th grade. I remember watching the premiere of Lil Kim’s Music Video “Crush On You.” That was the first time I was introduced to hip hop. I remember vividly just stopping what I was doing as soon as I heard the song start I told myself wow this is a creative video, how did they even come up with this!?
Then shortly after I learned about Diddy and all his artists in his Bad Boy label and my heart was stolen from there. I couldn’t understand why I was so in love with music at that age but it made me so happy every time I listened to it. Especially growing up in an abusive household. Music has always been my escape from the painful reality I was living. That moment I saw Lil Kim’s video is when the spark went on. I told myself “one day I’m going to be on TV or be the creative brains in this industry. What did I know right? I was a kid with BIG dreams. Lol
How did your talent agency iCandy come about?
Heaven: My friend Ericka introduced me to Sha Mack & my right hand Andrea. He hired me & Andrea to work as a Ciroc Girl Model at the Revolt Music Conference in Miami. There is where I met Nick Storm. Nick & Sha Mack are very dear to me. They mentored me when I didn’t understand how the business works. Also, they gave me my first few model gigs and supported our company. With the support of my right hand, Andrea Ciroc Girl Models was growing faster than we expected and we had a few liquor brands inquiring to work with us so to avoid any conflict of interest I came up with a new division and called it iCandy.c0m.
What had your journey been like so far as an entertainment industry professional and CEO?
Heaven: Good question. I put a lot of pain, sweat, and tears into this. At first, I did a lot of free work to build up my connections and strength my business relationships. I never asked anyone for any freebies. I learned and grew from several mistakes that I made on my own and also with the help of a few mentors. One of my very first mentors was Maino HustleHard. He put me under the wing as his little sis and because of that a lot of people were welcoming me with open arms and wouldn’t dare disrespect me in this industry.
Shout out to Maino cause I honestly feel like if it wasn’t for him believing in me the way he did I’d probably wouldn’t be here today. It’s not as easy as it looks. It really takes a village and a loyal team which is hard to find nowadays especially in this industry. I’ve dealt with a lot of unloyal people in this industry but having a mentor like Maino quickly taught me how to shake it off, get back up & keep going. It can get overwhelming a lot of times When your juggling multiple businesses by yourself. Which is why I had to learn to trust again. I now have an amazing team and a loyal staff. I couldn’t have done it without them.
What impact do you intend to make on the world through your business?
Heaven: Change. We currently are starting a new movement called #YesWeCan which gives disabled or special needs cases a chance to prove themselves in this industry. It started when I hired my first assistant Axha Haughton. We were emailing about scheduling an interview video conference and Axha explained that she was a college graduate that has cerebral palsy and that at times some companies weren’t as welcoming due to her condition.
I did not hesitate in giving her the opportunity to work with the company and help strengthen her skills. In efforts to prove to the world that Axha and many others like herself can In fact add value to growing companies in the entertainment industry.
What do you enjoy most about the work that you do?
Heaven: The thing that gives me great pride and joy is watching our models and talents grow & excel in their careers. A lot of them now run their own business. Some of our models are now CEOs of their own model agencies and we often collaborate and work together as a team. There’s never any competition. We treat them like family.
In our current climate which is amplifying women’s voices and talents more than ever. Please tell us why the hashtag #PaidGigsOnly is important to you?
Heaven: I started this company 4yrs ago. I wanted to provide a safe haven for models to work from. This came from many modeling opportunities that were offered to me by male-owned casting agencies, but the doors were quickly closed after I refused to do sexual favors in exchange for work.
After the horrific experiences I encountered in the past, I wanted to be a voice for girls that had experienced the same things as me and caused them to run away from a dream due to a corrupted industry.
Shortly after, I started learning that the corruption didn’t stop there. The girls were getting tricked into doing videos for free while the directors pocket the money. I was determined to put a stop to unpaid gigs. Starting my hashtag #PaidGigsOnly I quickly caught the attention of a lot of upcoming and rising models and started demanding paid hourly salaries for my models & talents. I also educated the talents on how to identify the signs of bad business and when is the right time to sign an exclusive contract.
What projects is the iCandy talent agency currently working on?
Heaven: Currently we are filming for a TV pilot that 2 Major TV Networks are very interested in picking up. I can’t disclose much information on that since NDA‘s are currently active. However, I can share that we recently started an Academy division for iCandy.c0m where we work closely with new talent and help them excel to the next level of their career.
We also give our talents the proper training they may need to prepare them for major gigs by helping them develop & strengthen their skills. We also help those that are looking to explore a new career field by giving them hands-on training, and helping them build the connections they need to succeed!
What are some of the most memorable moments in your career so far?
Heaven: Where do I start lol? There are quite a few favorite moments. I would have to say when I told Maino I also wanted to manage artist or be a great A&R. To my surprise he was very impressed with the talents I was working with formerly which were “Vice Versa The Twins” & now my current artist DaeUno. DaeUno was with me at Maino’s studio session. They were having some trouble with the hook. Maino stepped out for a few to take a call and my artist came up with the hook within minutes. Maino’s engineer was impressed and told DaeUno to lay it down in the booth. Maino heard it as he walked in and decided to keep it.
My artist is now on that song with Maino & Dave East. Another memorable moment was partying side by side with Diddy & French Montana I owe that to Sha Mack & Nick Storm at RMC. The next highlight in my company & career was casting models along with me in a few episodes of Black Ink Crew New York.
Last but not least booking my models with A-list celebrities and labels on an hourly salary. I felt like I finally broke the cycle when I was able to accomplish that for them. As they are always my priority no matter what.
What is some feedback you have received from clients you work with?
Heaven: The clients that book our talents are extremely happy with our quality, variety, and timing. Especially for last minute gigs. As for our Talents, they love the fact that they can work as freelance models within our company. The only time we sign them is if they are looking to work in TV/film or other big major gigs that are not music videos.
What was the experience like working with A-List artists such as Rich The Kid and Daddy Yankee?
Heaven: Our first time working with Rich The Kid was very fun actually. I had cast last minute with a few other agents. We were expecting about 20 girls that night and ended up with over 55 or more girls on set. We still have footage of that on our iCandy page. It was funny because as Rich The Kid opened the back of the Uhaul truck it was packed from the front to end side by side with models. It was an epic scene. Casting some of our models for Daddy Yankees video was an experience our models enjoyed as well. They learned some choreography and were able to network and take pictures after the set. They talked about it for days so to see them smile and enjoy what they do for work is always fulfilling for us at iCandy.
Are you currently looking for new talent? If so, what is your target demographic?
Heaven: We are hiring all year round in all 50 states. We accept both experienced and non-experienced models. Males & females. However, non-experienced models are required to join our Talent Academy to gain more experience for gigs they will be booked for in the future. So there are no target demographics really. We are a company that is willing to train and accept all types of races.
What else would you like our readers to know about your company?
Heaven: We are best known as the one-stop-shop in the entertainment business today. Helping A-list clients get branding opportunities such as Paid ads, PaidPost, paid social media campaigns, endorsements, sponsorship, verified on certain platforms, and also helping them with personal assistants, and anything they may need to make their daily lives easier.
As for our Talents, we specialize in providing full-spectrum model & talent management for Fashion and Lifestyle Print, Runway, Promotions, Showroom, Fit, Music Videos, TV/Film, and Commercials. We are best known for our boutique personal approach, model brand development, and loyal client relationships, We continue to set the standards with professional service and integrity.
How can you be contacted?
Heaven: Our company Instagram is @icandy.c0m with a zero, not a O.
& my Instagram is @iam_heaven_