It’s cute seeing kids these days trying to model with pics on FB and IG. So full of hope and innocence.
The reality is that they have to be spotted by someone connected with influence that would hire them for jobs. They can have thousands of ‘likes’ but until someone from the industry that actually matters gets wind of them, they will be just another narcissist posting selfies.
Network is everything in this line.
I was lucky and blessed that I started my relationship with sports labels as a baby, because my dad worked for the regional distributor and my mum was in publishing. My first pair of sneakers were production samples of maroon suede & polyester mesh Nike baby road runners. This became prophetic to my eventual career in the industry.
When I got my first personal break on my own at 15, it was because I signed up for a low paid work attachment for a national expo event to get the job experience on my portfolio. I volunteered to work on the stage crew because I loved the stage and AV stuff. It just so happened that they needed an emcee to cover the filler segments and lucky draws. That was how I got my first paying hosting and stage modelling job. And started my relationship with another American sports label, because their distributor was the show’s main sponsor and the boss was an old boy of my alma mater who liked me for my personality and can do attitude. So begins years of free stuff and earning my own spending money.
So when I started racing competitively, and got hooked up with my pro team label, I wasn’t exactly new to the business. I’d been in and around it my whole life pretty much.
The opportunity came because they needed equipment testers for final run prototypes, my dad was friends with the owner of their supplier factories, I was already competing in a satellite circuit, had a diploma in Mechanical Engineering specialising in Design and familiar enough with biomechanics and ergonomics. So everything just fit.
The modelling was secondary, it was just convenient that I’d already been prepared for that growing up. I made all my own breaks building my portfolio.
During my active years I never had to take selfies because I was paid to let someone else take pictures of me, I also never carried a camera on me. I never had to talk about it because the label’s marcomms team did all that work for us, I just show up do my thing and get paid for it. I honestly didn’t care that the label owned all rights to every photo or video they took, because I got paid for it. As long as you get paid enough who cares what anyone else thinks. Let them say what they want about you, as long as that dollar goes in your pocket it doesn’t matter what the haters say or think. To me it was all just a job, I get paid to do it and that’s really the whole point of it. The best response to haters is to live well.
I find it amusing when people point to amateurs posting selfies and think that’s where the game is. The real game is in the pros when you don’t have to post jack shit about anything to get paid to do what you do.
Now when I share stories like this, it’s to help kids understand the difference between having ego driven pipe dreams and having legitimate practical professional ambition.
All this was because I got out and tried to make connections in the real world offline and made my own breaks. Posting selfies and videos will not be enough for most people to get the notice of the decision makers that matter. If posting pictures of yourself with pretentious captions was enough to get you a career as a model or pro athlete than nobody on IG would need a day job would they?
You have to venture out and pay your dues as early as possible. Build your portfolio where it matters. Build relationships where it matters.
And if you really do want to turn pro, the only career advice from amateurs you should be listening to is advice on how to not make their mistakes and get stuck below the bar like them.
I was lucky my dad was a pro and I had other pros from different sports to take example from.
Now with the internet, kids have access to so many resources to learn from. However nothing beats going out there in the real world and connecting with industry decision makers in real life.