The ups and downs of life as a model

I think most people have the wrong idea of what it’s like to work in the entertainment industry. This includes music, TV, film, and fashion. As the saying goes “the only two guarantees in life are death and taxes,” but after over a decade in the entertainment industry, I’ve come to learn that there’s even less guarantees here. It truly is a rollercoaster ride; one filled with many highs, and even more lows. And in the world we live in, most people only ever see the successes or the highs. And many of those times you never see the work that goes into becoming a success.

When I was 15 I started playing in various bands. From the start, our goal was to get a record deal and become rock stars. We figured once we got signed, our tickets to stardom would be punched. So when I was 18 years old, I signed my first record contract. It was a small indie label out of New York, but after months of working our asses off, my band and I thought we had finally made it. However, the excitement was short lived and I ended up leaving the band. They wound up never releasing anything through the label, and we got a first hand lesson of life in the music business. This story is far too common, and something that almost every musician or artist deals with in some way.

Fast forward to life after America’s Next Top Model, most people think that the contestants have opportunities coming left and right from the show. I will say this; the show is a great platform to promote yourself and your brand. You certainly gain exposure and get a chance to connect with fans. But as is the case with most things in life, nothing is handed to you. After being thrown into this world, I thought all I had to do was getting signed to an agency and I would be set. I quickly learned two things. First, that getting signed to an agency is hard, even with all the exposure I had. And second, getting signed doesn’t mean your work is done.

After almost a year of trying, I did eventually sign with MSA Models in New York and Los Angeles. I have a great relationship with all the agents there and we work very well together. But what people don’t fully understand is just because you’re signed with an agency, doesn’t mean you automatically start booking work. I would guess to say that maybe 10-15% of all models are booked all the time and make a good living. The other 85-90% of us struggle every day and try to figure out how we’re going to pay our bills each month. I get out on castings quite often, but when it’s all said and done I book about 2-3 jobs a month. Sometimes more, sometimes less. But this is pretty common among most of my model friends. We work in an industry where we hear the word “no” much more than we hear “yes.” You have to learn to develop a think skin and be mentally strong; it’s not an easy thing. And in those down periods we all work numerous odd jobs and even help each other find other gigs. I know a lot of people who say they’re “models” will never admit this, but that’s the reality of working in this industry.

We’re all out here because each of us has a dream that we’re trying to chase. I want people who are thinking about getting into this crazy world, that just because you sign a record contract, or sign a modeling contract, or end up on a TV show, doesn’t mean you’ve made it. Keep working and keep improving yourself. It's something I struggle with every day, we all do. There will be highs and there will be lows, but just keep moving forward. Focus on being the best you. It sounds cheesy, but the only person holding you back is you.

Mike