During my stint as a fashion show event organizer for a make-up artist based in Toronto, I came across people that I’ve never thought would have a significant impact in my simple life. I met ramp models, seasoned chefs, amazing DJs, hip-hop dancers and a skilled photographer. They all had their own unique talents and skills, but when they all collaborated, the result was harmonious and beautiful. I was lucky enough to get to know all of them.
I remember, during a photo shoot that was organized by Gabriel Johnson at LeVue as part of the fashion show, I was able to talk to model Victor Vargas about his life and how he got to where he is now. Honestly, I saw myself in him. He was also an immigrant just like myself, trying to make it to the fashion industry. Victor was originally from Colombia and has a degree in Mechatronics Engineering. He worked as a Production Supervisor in a Sugar Factory in his country. One day, he went on vacation to New York and instantly fell in love with the city, and he later on decided to stay. After awhile, he found the love of his life and they got married soon after. Here’s how Victor’s interview went.
Nicole: How did you start modeling?
Victor: I’ve always been an outgoing person. I’m not afraid or shy to try new things and I truly appreciate everything related to art. I am from Colombia, and I’ve only been here in NYC for two years. Back in Colombia, when I was still in college, I’ve always loved to be involved in a vocal technique group. We performed some musicals, and little concerts, including the Jesus Christ SuperStar. I also joined singing contests in college and fortunately bringing home the bacon each and every time. I also love photography -- being in front and at the back of the camera. I was always the one taking photos of my friends during parties. One day, I went to a modeling agency for a casting call regarding a pilot of a series. This exposed me to the modeling field. This is when I started doing photo shoots with friends and going to events. I then decided to permanently move to NYC and I started applying for fashion shows and photo shoots with photographers. Everything has been amazing. So far, I’ve done NYC fashion week, tons of photo shoots, and way more events are coming this year.
Nicole: Who inspired you to become a fashion model?
Victor: I don’t really have any iconic role male model. I’ve always been very ambitious and passionate when it comes to my dream. I do feel that I can do anything I want -- and this is what goes though my head -- I just feel so powerful. Being a model is one of the dreams and I’ve always wanted to become famous since I was a child. However, I have to say that my mother and my husband have really been encouraging me and pushing me to go for the gold.
Nicole: What does your career do for you?
Victor: Being a model allows you to become versatile. You have to express a lot of different emotions depending on certain situations. If you are doing runway, you have to show different facial expressions based on the clothes you are wearing and also according to the designer’s preference. If you are doing a photo shoot, then you have to project your feelings through your body position and facial gestures. Being a model helped me improve my self-confidence and body posture. It also opened the door to meeting tons of people who could help me succeed in this industry like photographers, managers, and another models -- whom I became good friends with. Networking is an important aspect when you are in this type industry.
Nicole: What’s your most memorable shoot?
Victor: One of my first photo shoots was when I was in college. A good friend of mine decided to take photos of me and the location was at the university. I had to be shirtless, and he filled my face with spikes, and pieces of glass to make the photo shoot unique and amazing. Since I was new to this field, I was a little shy and skeptical, because I know that people were watching me. Then, it started to rain, and I think that calmed me down and really helped me to loosen a tad bit. We continued the photo shoot despite the heavy downpour , and the results were still amazing.
Nicole: What’s the biggest highlight of your career to date? Why was it a highlight?
Victor: The most important event I’ve done so far, is the Plitz New York City Fashion Week. When I went to the casting call, I didn’t see any male designer, so I thought I wasn’t going to get picked. When they posted the list, I was picked by three designers and I was so stoked! At the day of the event, another designer saw me and decided to include me for his show. I ended up doing four shows in total (OMG). I did runways for designers from Maryland, Senegal, Barbados Islands, and China. It was such an awesome experience. It really exposed me to greater opportunities. I met a lot of people and I managed to add more contacts in my networking circle.
Nicole: What’s your biggest career mistake to date? What did you learn from this mistake?
Victor: I think that when you are trying to get extra gigs, you always put yourself at risk. Thank God I haven’t had a bad experience so far. You really have to be very careful and you should nitpick when it comes to choosing a gig. I try to get as much information as I can before meeting someone and I prefer to meet in a public space. I do some research on the internet and I always look at their social networking activities, then I decide whether it is a scam or not.
Nicole: What type of roles have you enjoyed the most? Why?
Victor: So far it’s the photo shoot I did for a special effect/make up artist photographer. I was transformed into a Dark Elf. It was fun portraying a character especially with all those different facial and body expressions. The make up took forever and I literally have to sit still for 3 hours, but the results were really awesome.
Nicole: How would you describe your personality and working style?
Victor: I think I am fun and outgoing. I’m not afraid to ask or start a conversation. I am pretty cool as long as I see some good vibes coming from another person.
My working style is pretty straightforward. I follow directions according to what I’m instructed to do, however I also love to give new ideas and express what I think just so I could express my own feedback.
Nicole: Did you ever imagine that you will go this far?
Victor: Yes -- and it’s not like I’m vain or anything. I am really just a confident and ambitious person. I put my energy and all my efforts into accomplishing my goals no matter what. My dreams don’t stay only in my thoughts -- I’m the one in charge into making them happen, and that’s what I’m focusing on now.
Nicole: What are your future plans for your career (5 or 10 years from now)?
Victor: I have a lot of projects that don’t involve modeling. Modeling is fun and it’s something I like to do right now, but it’s not my main focus -- you grow old and your physical features can change... as bad as it sounds, it wont last forever. In contrary, I am a mechatronics engineer (mechanical and electronics), so I would really want invent something that could help people in their everyday lives. I also want to open up a restaurant with my husband, and start a home improvement business. But in the meantime, I am going to take advantage of modeling while I still can.
Nicole: Do you have any advice for those who want to start modeling?
Victor: Modeling could definitely open a lot of doors for you. If you'd like to venture the entertainment world, then this is a good stepping stone. You, and only you, are the only person who can tell how far you can go -- you can set the limits -- but dream big and fight for what you want !!! :-)
So there you go folks.
Nicole Kenneally is the owner of www.etutorschool.com, an online language learning website which connects tutors with students all over the world. She is fond of writing articles about up and coming artists from New York City.