Many thousands dream of becoming of a professional model, but what does it take to become one? And stay one?
In this series of “5 Models Answer 5 Questions”, various professional models share their modelling advice about working in the industry. The first model we talked to is Nicklas Kingo.
Nicklas Kingo has been working as a professional model for three years and travelling the world modeling for brands such as Calvin Klein and Louis Vuitton. Although he had a good start with modeling, Nicklas career journey has not always been smooth and easy. There had been hurdles he had to overcome in both the professional and personal level. In this interview, he shares with us a glimpse into his path, the industry misconceptions, and honest pieces of modelling advice.
“Most models won’t work past 30 and it’s hard to go back to earning minimum wage when you’re usually paid 1500 euros a day”
First of all, could you please describe yourself briefly?
My name is Nicklas Kingo. I’m 29 years old and I come from Denmark and Australia. I’m an actor living in London now. I worked as a model full time for three years and still do it now part time when the occasional interesting/well paying gig pops up.
I’ve modelled in Denmark, Germany, France, the UK, US, South Africa, Australia, Italy, Japan, Spain and Korea. I started out as a runway model with exclusives for Calvin Klein and Louis Vuitton.
What were the key steps you took to become a professional model?
Well, I was told I should try out modelling and I just sent in some pictures to a couple of different agencies in my hometown Copenhagen, Denmark. Got declined by four before one showed interest, but I had to drop a lot of weight. So I did, in a very unhealthy manner. So short answer: I sent emails and lost weight.
More modelling advice: What are the do’s and don’ts when showcasing yourself to an agency?
Any agency that asks for payment of any sort is a no-go. There are no ‘modelling schools’ – they’re all a scam. Also, any agency that sends you to ‘their’ photographer or whatever, is also a scam. Agencies take a percentage, so when you make money they make money. Simple.
When you’ve found an agency that agrees to see you, they get you in and take some pictures of you. Make sure you look good when you go and don’t wear distracting clothes – no funny t-shirts or whatnot. Plain clothes that look good and fit well. If they like you, you’ll have a conversation with them. It’s hard to mess up really, it’s not like a job interview, just act normal.
How do you master the art of posing?
To be honest I have no clue. I’ve never been told I’m doing anything wrong when working. Modelling is so much less actual ‘doing’ that people think. It’s mostly endurance. Remaining nice and not complaining when you’re close to having an epileptic seizure from the 7 hours of constant camera flashes. Just be loose and have a good time.
There really are no secrets to ‘posing’. It might be harder for female models, I don’t know. It’s not one of those things you just learn on the go, no reading or YouTube video will help you. Just be okay with doing poses that may or not looks stupid. It doesn’t matter. The photographer is going to be shooting thousands of photos anyway.
As a professional model, what are some of the aspects that people do not always see?
The up’s and down’s of being put on hold for potentially life changing jobs, getting pulled off massive runway shows last minute, living in an apartment with a dozen models and agencies charging each model a 1000 USD a month for it, dodging creepy promoters or just creeps in general, going to the other side of the world because you were told you would make good money and you don’t, developing eating disorders.
There are so many negatives that people don’t necessarily know about. That being said it’s fun at the end of the day. For me, modelling is a job that I did/do enjoy but it behooves oneself to spend ones free time to develop skills one can use in other arenas. At times I was working a lot, but I felt useless and my mind wasn’t stimulated. It was fun but there was no challenge.
Once I’d been to all the big cities, I got bored real quick. You have to figure out an ‘out’. Most models won’t work past 30 and it’s hard to go back to earning minimum wage when you’re usually paid 1500 euros a day because you haven’t developed any skills.
What modelling advice would you give to your younger self?
I probably would’ve done the same. I’ve lived all over the world while making money. I could say I should’ve told myself to start focusing on my career as an actor earlier but then I wouldn’t have gone to all those places and seen all those things. I also think it’s important to make your own mistakes, so I would’ve done the same all over again I reckon.