Agency Feature :: Rya Berkelaar of Richard's International Model Management


“Since 1982, Richard’s International Model Management has earned a reputation for discovering and developing models for local and international markets. It was founded by Richard A. Hawley at a time when there was a need in the Vancouver market for an agency with an international outlook, that also had the model’s best interests at heart.

Richard’s own experience as an international model and the relationships he has built over the years with top clients and agents around the world have helped him build one of the premier modelling agencies in Canada. Known for his honesty and straight-forward style, Richard has earned a trustworthy name in the business. To this day these are the values on which we pride ourselves.

This legacy is continued by Rya Berkelaar, a former Richard’s model with over 20+ years of experience in the industry as a model, booker and manager, having helped develop careers of some of Canada’s most successful models.” - (sourced from

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(photography by: @noahasanias)

What makes Richards Models unique in today’s agency landscape?\

I think what sets us apart is that we have maintained a reputation as one of Canada’s top agencies for over 35 years by holding true to our values while evolving with this ever changing industry. We pride ourselves in creating a family environment with a very personalized management style that addresses a model’s overall well-being and development. This approach has earned us respect and loyalty from our models and clients worldwide.

In the “About” section of Richard’s website it mentions “creating a healthy and informed environment” to help your models succeed. Can you elaborate on that for us, what makes for a healthy and informed environment for models today?\

We feel it is important that a model develops a healthy sustainable lifestyle that will allow them longevity in this industry. This includes physical, mental and emotional wellbeing and stamina. We support them with workshops, nutritional information, workouts etc. as well as coaching and feedback on how to be a professional in this field when it comes to attitude and habits. We empower our models by supporting and involving them in every decision. We try to foster an environment where the model feels comfortable to come to us with any concerns or questions about this fast evolving industry. It’s a collaborative effort, so that they can make the best choices for their career while being true to themselves.

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How did you get involved with the modeling world and stepping toward being an Agent?\

As a teenager, a photographer friend took my photos and sent them to a modeling agency owned by Richard A. Hawley. At 18 years old he sent me to Paris with Glamour and New York with IMG. After a short break from modeling I went back to visit the agency on an especially busy day, when Richard saw me the first thing he said was “Are you looking for a job? Answer the phone!” So I came in the next day with nothing but my modeling experience and a positive attitude. Over the years I learned how this business works from the agent’s perspective and with a lot of hard work and perseverance I went from answering the phone to now owning and running the business.

That is truly amazing and inspiring, Rya. And congratulations on all of your hard work and earned success. I think this is one of my favorite things about doing Agent interviews, personally, is that we find out so much more about the Agent and what it took to get to this point in the career… The journey.

Two parter. What do you find challenging about being an Agent, and what do find most rewarding about being an agent?\

Challenging- Negotiating digital usage in this social media driven era. Rewarding- having a positive role in our young models development, helping them to find their strengths and achieving their goals.

I can imagine the day to day work involved in being an Agent is super involved. What do you like to do in your free time to reset/self care/have fun?\

I like to hike the beautiful local BC Mountains with my dog Billy. I love to travel, practice yoga, meditate, spa days, volunteer, read and have a laugh with good friends.


What advice would you give someone trying to break into the modeling world?\

Make sure you really want to do this, do your research on reputable agencies and on what is required of your time, as success does not happen overnight. Plan on taking care of yourself, embrace your uniqueness, show up, have a positive attitude and perseverance. You can have the perfect height and look but if you are not willing to put in the effort with a good attitude, it’s going to be difficult to sustain success.

What are some misconceptions about modeling that people don’t realize before getting in to it, or attempting to get into modeling as a career?\

It’s not a quick money grab you can just jump into and expect a quick return. It can take years of development to build a career up to the point where a model is making good money.

Finally, how does Syngency play a role in your day to day work life, and what are some Syngency features you use on a daily basis?\

Syngency has streamlined many of our tasks, we simply could not get all of what we do in a day done without this technology. To have our website, database, booking and billing all connected to out accounting platform (Xero) has helped us excell our productivity year after year.

Our thanks go out to Rya Berkelaar for her time and wonderful interview! Check out the work Rya and her team at Richard’s Models are doing via
and be sure to follow them on Instagram HERE, and Facebook HERE