For the past three decades, Page Parkes has made a living scouring the earth in search of beautiful and talented people and has worked inexhaustibly to nurture and transform their self-identities, in hopes that their potential might be realized. While one could easily make assumptions about what kind of person the namesake and co-founder of the largest model and talent group in the Southwest might be, the truth is that most of those assumptions would be completely off the mark.
“I’m a Texas girl in every way,” Parkes asserts proudly, as she warmly recounts the story of her humble beginnings. Born in Denton, Parkes was raised by a single mother of three, who packed up her family and drove to Houston in search of a better life when Parkes was six years old. “She showed me how to survive. My upbringing taught me a lot about what wanting something means. I’m very grateful that I know how to want, and what that feels like.”
After teaching herself to sew her own dresses out of old fabric, and even curtains, Parkes eventually made her way to the American College of Fashion in Europe. After studying in Switzerland, London, Paris, and alongside Emilio Pucci in Florence, she returned to Texas and began work at Michael St. James, a Houston-based modeling school and agency. A mere two years later, Parkes joined forces with longtime coworker Rachel Duran and opened Page Parkes Corporation, a development, training, and management agency designed for models and actors.
Boasting a long, familiar list of represented talent over the years, the company eventually established additional offices in Dallas and Austin. In 2011, Parkes became a prominent fixture on the E! docu-series Scouted, which chronicles modeling scouts on the hunt to discover the industry’s next big star. This August, in the midst of her Glamping Across Texas tour, Parkes shot the pilot for another series based on her character from Scouted.
Still, Parkes remains humble and uses her story to relate to and inspire the young people she works with. Her aspirations to help young people eventually took on particularly personal meaning, when Parkes and her husband adopted their three children, a trio of siblings, who she admits enjoy scouting talent as well.
“I try to be open and unashamed about where I come from,” she explains. “You have to tell your story so people feel like they can make it, too.” Known in her industry for her ability to find rare diamonds in the rough, she often intentionally scouts in small, isolated towns and low-income schools, granting scholarships to young people who wouldn’t otherwise have “a way out” or the resources to train professionally.
“‘If there was no possibility of failure, and money was not an obstacle, what would you be today?’ That’s what I ask these young girls. ‘What if I could shake all of these fears in your head for you, by teaching you to communicate? Wouldn’t you say yes?’ It’s painful not to be able to communicate. To create beauty which is purely visual can be perceived as deeply shallow, but we try to stay focused on what’s truly important, and that’s who we are inside.”
Parkes’s approach to her work is rooted in creating honest, trusting, and respectful relationships with her clients, while helping them to develop highly effective skills that extend beyond the realm of modeling and acting. “I think I’ve always been challenged by the word ‘trust,’ perhaps due to my own upbringing, because I thought that if I performed to my highest ability, people would trust me. I’ve stayed so addicted to this job over the years because of how difficult it is to get people to trust you. I’m completely invested in protecting these girls, though. I openly give myself to them.”
The level of passion and commitment Parkes brings to her work is incredibly inspiring. “I don’t think anybody could know what a sacrifice this has been of my own life to give like this. Obviously something suffers, and often it’s my personal life. I have to learn to put myself on the list, like I so often encourage everyone else to do. Then, I look out there at this beautiful garden, and there are flowers everywhere. All these people I’ve helped, one little flower at a time, they’re everywhere. It’s all about helping people, and that’s the emotional wealth I gain from my work. I just keep paying it forward.”