America's Next Male Model by Sophia DeVito
Photography by Janine Ngai from Curious Lens
Model: Tyler Jurelle of The BOLDNetwork
Think you’re the next big thing? Do you think you have what it takes to be a model? Well, let’s find out.
Adventuring into the modeling world is not an easy task. For years, women have taken over the modeling industry and now have an even bigger platform through social media. We often associate fashion models and models with tall and slender women walking the Gucci runway. Don’t be fooled! Men can be models too.
Let’s go over the basics of modeling for men and women:
You don’t need to have professional photos. Many models these days use their iPhones to snap sultry photos in the mirror to post on Instagram. If agencies think you have what it takes, they will call you regardless if you have professional photos or not. You could even try using polaroid photos. They will give an edgy look to your style. Former male model and now photographer, Stefan Pinto, agrees, “Contrary to popular belief, you do not need amazing photos to become a (male) model. That is the responsibility of the agency. If you are taken on as one of their models, you will be sent to a pro photographer for your photo.”
Anyone can become a model. You don’t need to start at any age. There are so many older male models and trust me, we fawn over them. Those salt and pepper guys for Calvin Klein? Yes! Don’t be discouraged by your age. If modeling is what you want, take a leap of faith.
Being tall is not a requirement. Years ago, all models needed to be tall and thin, however, times have changed and that is no longer the case. Especially if you don’t want to walk the catwalk. Size isn’t noticed much anymore. Back in 2015, Target did a campaign with “plus-size” male models.
Getting an agent is key. This rule applies to men and women. Getting an agent will not only help open doors up, but it will eliminate the possibility of people taking advantage of you and your time. There are fewer modeling jobs out there for men so getting into a good agency is like having a fairy godmother looking out for you. If there is a photoshoot or casting call, they will be the ones to hear about it. If you are someone who wants to do it on your own, that’s fine too. Use social media as your platform and go from there.
Discover your strengths! This is good for anything in life but make sure you know what your best angles are! If you are into fitness and workout every day, maybe becoming a fitness model is for you. Or maybe you have a sharp jawline and long legs; the runway is for you.
Don’t think being a model is going to happen overnight. For some people, it can take years before they are noticed so don’t get discouraged. It can be hard seeing people get discovered at the airport then the next week, they’re plastered all over NYC. Your time will come and when it does; you’re going to thank yourself for the time and energy you put into it.
Networking will become second nature. Try going out and meeting people in the industry. Get your name out there. We have all heard it before, “It’s who you know,” and that’s so true! There are even online networks that are for people in the industry. Take advantage of them.
Be persistent if you want to become a model. The truth is, not everyone makes it in the industry. Some people fail and some people soar. You’re going to need some thick skin if modeling is your passion.
Do your research! There are so many scams out there and the last thing you want to do is get caught up in one. Know what type of market you want to get into and read all the information out there. It’s just like any other job, you’re going to want to know the ‘ins’ and ‘outs’ before committing to anything.
Have fun and be yourself! Don’t let the industry change who you are as a person. It will come across in your photographs and everyday life. While it is a job if it’s something you love it will become fun.
What Do Modeling Agencies Look Like for Male Models?
Shane Allen is with the Dallas (fashion) chapter of DIFFA: Design Industries Foundation Fighting AIDS. Allen is responsible for finding male models for their yearly shows. “When you do get that first gig, be nice to everyone. The director, the patrons, the lighting person, the sound engineer, the craft services people. Everyone. This is a small industry and everyone knows someone else. The way you treat others can make the difference between your career taking off, or ending before it even started,” said Allen.
In the movies, models can come off as snobs and rude but in real life, being rude to someone will get you nowhere. It’s important to be humble in the modeling industry. Everyone talks and if someone implies you were mean to the photographer, there’s a possibility the next photographer won’t want to work with you. You are there to do a job just like the rest of the workers.
Starting in the industry can be hard, but not impossible. According to Pinto, “The industry has changed. But the procedures to be a legitimate model remain the same: all agencies have an open call day where anyone can walk in (during open call hours only) and they may or may not get seen. If the person running the open call feels you have what it takes, they will snap some digitals of you (or put you on camera) and an agent will see you immediately (very rarely) or someone will contact you if you fit a job and they don’t have anyone currently signed that fit the job.”
Open calls are usually held by male modeling agencies and are open to the general public. These open calls are a way for agencies to meet potential new clients and explain to them about the industry and their agency. It is also an opportunity for agencies to add a new client to their roster. If you are looking to become a male model, you’ll want to take advantage of these open calls. It’s a great way to meet other models in a relaxed setting.
For open calls, you will more than likely need to provide pictures of yourself; this could include multiple shots like up close, full-length or more. The agency will give instructions on what they are looking for each call. Once at the open call, each model will go through a brief interview process. You’ll want to come with a fresh, clean face. Treat this as a job interview, because that’s essentially what this is. The agency will ask a few questions to see if you’re the right fit for them as well as look at your photos and take your measurements. Be prepared to do a runway walk if they request and know what special skills you’ll bring to the agency.
The male model industry is small and can be competitive. For women, the requirements are a little more straightforward and not as vague as for men. Let’s talk about some requirements for becoming a male model.
You don’t necessarily need to have a six-pack and have a perfect complexion to be a male model. This can make it easier and harder because unless you are looking for a specific gig, every agency wants something different. While you might lack skills in one department, you can make up for it and still become a model.
Height can make a difference depending on what type of modeling you want to do. A height recommendation for male modeling is around 5’11” to 6’2”.
Age is not as important for males as it is for females. Some men in their 40’s are still working but there is a group of young models that range from 15-26. Don’t let age hold you back in this industry.
Manscaping is important in this industry. Agencies typically don’t go for men with a ton of body hair. Make sure you are cleaning up for your face and making sure your body hair is kept neat and to a minimum. Also, having good skincare practices is key.
While weight might not always be a huge factor, a flexible number to go for is around 140-160 lbs. Your Body Mass Index should settle between 18.5 and 24.9. Just remember, these are rough estimates when it comes to male modeling. Every agency is looking for something different.
Let’s finish up with the categories that fall under male modeling:
High fashion — Models who typically work with designer brands and high-fashion brands such as GUCCI, Louis Vuttion, and more.
Runway — Models who walk the runway during fashion shows.
Commercial — Models who appear in ads, billboards, newspapers, and more.
Showroom — Models who display clothing and accessories in boutiques, showrooms, or fashion parties.
Catalog — Models who appear in catalogs to display the average man.
Editorial — Models who work solely for certain publications.
Specialty — Models who specialize in one certain area like hand or feet models.
Modeling is a full-time job. It is filled with long days, eating healthy, maintaining a balanced lifestyle, working out, and living in and out of hotels. If this isn’t something you want, then this industry isn’t for you. If you aren’t willing to keep up with the fast-paced lifestyle, someone else will be. The modeling industry can be pretty cutthroat.