INSIDE THE WORLD OF MALE MODELING
by Jeremy Danté
this blog has revolved around my singular interest in modeling. whether male or female, from agencies to bookings- models have been the greatest focus on my site. this has allowed other facets of the fashion industry to become interlaced over time. gratefully, i have been able to come into contact with a new pack of individuals who have inspired greater creativity in me. this crew ranges from models to bloggers, videographers to designers to stylists. in an effort to continue this conversation of style & the creative process, i am releasing a series of interviews with these individuals. there is a certain energy that i am looking to channel, as a writer, there is an angle i am looking to represent. over the course of the next six months, you’ll be able to get to know these individuals through intimate conversations & thought provoking subject matter.
s a prelude to my men’s fashion week coverage for the summer/spring 2013 show season, this interview is the first of that series. given my original interests in building the site, this was more than necessary. as a writer, i look to represent angles that i feel are not being represented by other sites in the fashion blogosphere. i remember seeing jhanelle castillo in a showpackage for new york fashion week, then with click models. there was an immediate response i had to his presence. im constantly saying it in pieces of writing here, but it’s incredibly necessary to reiterate. when viewing forms of media, we naturally look for or are drawn to individuals who look like us. it was that form of reaction when i first noticed jhanelle. somehow in the wide world of the internet we were able to get connected. jhanelle’s entrance into modeling happened by chance, some would even say luck. his leap into fashion was kick started by cosmo & an ex-girlfriend. “i thought it was a joke so i hung up the phone thinking it was a prank by one of my friends”, says castillo on the editors of cosmopolitan women’s magazine contacting him to participate in their “50 hottest bachelors in america” feature. representing the state of california, where castillo calls home, the shoot brought about inner thoughts of modeling as a career. through suggestions by the photographer & staff working on the shoot, jhanelle took the ultimate risk, leaving home & a steady career for the unpredictability of male modeling.
regularly, i receive emails with questions regarding how to break into the modeling game. in looking for ways to address this area of interest for you as the readers, i felt jhanelle’s story to be extremely relevant, as well as helpful in lending a dimension of reality to fashion which is very rarely addressed. the challenges posed in the world of modeling are that much more difficult for male models. essentially, fashion is a female dominated industry & functions unlike any other in the existence. upon relocating from west coast to east, jhanelle found himself weighed down with doubts & fear of the unknown. “i am not going to lie, i was very scared and on various occasions questioned whether or not pursing modeling was a good idea.” on leaving behind the security of a steady castillos says, “most of my colleagues at work thought i was crazy…i thought my mom would be disappointed in me for quitting my job to pursue a career with so much uncertainty, but she was very supportive.” shortly after being signed to click models upon his arrival in new york city, jhanelle began to go to casting for campaigns & found himself competing with top male models. thus began the battle between commercial & high end, in castillo’s own career.
for the agencies, jhanelle explains the methodology of modeling & the approach agents take in building portfolios for new models on the scene. “if the model has very edgy look, they (the agency) will do more high fashion pictures to lure in high fashion clients. believe it or not, booking commercial jobs such as JC penney or other catalog jobs pay more money than high fashion jobs. many high fashion campaigns, magazine editorials and runway shows will not pay that much but will build a model’s name, give them exposure & create a buzz”, explains castillo. amidst his career, jhanelle began to desire a much more high end, editorial direction in lieu of booking so many commercial jobs while represented by click models. upon our getting in contact, this was the dilemma of the moment & we often discussed other agencies or ways to diversify as a model. for models, their careers can feel very restricted when the agencies that represent them do not identify in the direction in which a model wants to go. these challenges, posed to jhanelle during his stint at click ushered in a new era for his career. an era which is well underway at the current moment.
never one to let a lesson pass him by, jhanelle remains vigilant through his professional approach & how best to strategize in this new phase of his career. looking back, jhanelle explains, “when i was signed to my previous agency (click models) i felt frustrated that we did not see eye-to-eye on the direction of my career. they wanted me to entirely do commercial jobs. the money was good but i did not get any exposure or get to do any cool jobs or editorials. their argument was that my look was too commercial and that i couldn’t do high fashion. that frustrated me. a model’s transition from commercial to high fashion is hard but not impossible. many people don’t know but joan smalls was once only booking commercial jobs until givenchy noticed her, that opened her career into high fashion”. jhanelle continues, “i have been signed with major models and i have worked with awesome clients. now, i have worked a good balance of high fashion and commercial jobs. i finally have a team that believes in me and pushes me in many different directions.” excited for what this new year will bring, jhanelle has booked & continues to land jobs that bridge the gap he has longed for in both commercial & high end facets of modeling.
“i try to hangout with people who are not in the industry..to get my mind out of work. i feel like talking about modeling to other models can be counterproductive to your own career”, explains castillo furthering the discussion on the challenges that models face. on speaking about challenges due to race, castillo continues with, “the fashion industry can be very discriminatory but there are definitely improvements being made”. providing examples of the diversified castings by companies like the gap, united colors of bennetton & high fashion powerhouse, givenchy, castillo says, “most campaigns are an all white cast but there are some clients that go above and beyond to be diverse..i definitely see progress but there is still big improvements to be made”. jhanelle has a presence that seems to transcend the limitations of fashion & when discussing the importance of life after modeling, castillo proclaims, “it is extremely important for models to plan a life after modeling, many do not organize their finances so it makes it really hard. modeling is not a career with much longevity, so it is imperative to plan a life after modeling.” shedding further light on an unspoken aspect of model life, castillo explains, “out of all the jobs models book, agencies take a 20% commission. model agencies are not considered employers. as a result, agencies do not deduct taxes out of a models jobs, therefore models are responsible to pay those taxes.” jhanelle remains thoughtful in perspective & thorough in his explanation of the industry that employs him & adds, “don’t get me wrong, i love my job & what i do but there is more to life than modeling & fashion. after a long day of castings, fittings or jobs, all i want to do is spend time with my girlfriend & unwind”. currently represented by major models, jhanelle is hoping to further his career through editorial bookings that will allow his portfolio to develop beyond the commercial bookings he once was restricted to when signed to click models. most recently, jhanelle can be seen alongside male model paolo roldan in the fragrance advertising campaign for men’s fragrance, zipped rebel. shot by fabien montique, the campaign spot featuring jhanelle can be viewed below.