By Gina Salamone
Daily News Staff Writer
Tuesday, May 5th 2009
Olivia Mignone Overcame Height Bias
…The 18-years-old from Queens dreamed of becoming a model since childhood. But at just 5′ foot 1″, she knew that wouldn’t be easy. Instead of sitting around sulking, she started her own modeling agency for girls, donating money raised from shows to charity. “I’ve always wanted to model,” Mignone shares. “I watch ‘America’s Next Top Model.’ My freshman year of high school, when I was 14, I joined my high school charity fashion show.
“My mom was friends with Hal Eisenberg who is the executive director of Windows of Opportunity, Inc., the nonprofit agency that I work with,” she adds. “He saw me practicing for the fashion show one day and said, ‘You should really model.’ I explained how you have to be like 5′ 8″ or taller and super thin. I would never be accepted.” Since Windows of Opportunity encourages kids to volunteer, Eisenberg suggested Mignone start a program for girls like her who want to model. With his help, she launched Shortstack in 2006.
“We have 20 girls from all over the city,” Mignone says. “We’ve been in a couple of magazines. And we did have a clothing line.” But she’s most proud of the annual fashion shows Stortstack produces, which have raised $34,000 for Windows of Opportunity’s HIV awareness and other programs.
For her work, Mignone was recently named a semi-finalist by Build-A-Bear Workshop’s search for “Huggable Heroes.”